Features

17 Sep: Getting cabling into buildings the smart way

In logistics, the term ‘last mile’ refers to a short distance that needs to be spanned in order to reach a final destination. When laying out or expanding fibre networks, the last mile is generally the most time-consuming, costly part. Of course, there are many variables to take into account, and often different types of cabling are used in different zones in a project. To avoid overspending and working with exaggerated specifications, Hermann Christen, Market Development Manager, R&M suggests it’s definitely worth consulting with an expert.

10 Sep: How network visibility can protect businesses in the new tomorrow

No one expected this year to be as testing as it has been and few organisations were prepared for the financial difficulties, IT issues and security threats created by this new norm. With companies expecting 50% of their staff back in the office by September, the flexible approach to working from home is set to complicate networks further. The road ahead is challenging to say the least, says Ollie Sheridan, Security Principal at Gigamon, but, with network visibility as the cornerstone of their cyber-strategy, organisations can to optimise investments, adapt agilely and ensure protection in the next phase of the pandemic and beyond.

03 Sep: The Data Centre of Tomorrow

There is no doubt that data is one of the world’s most valuable commodities today. Across the world’s business hubs, data centre demand has been driven by the rapid adoption of cloud services and the emergence of digitally transformative business models born out of the Internet of Things (IoT). With sustainability now at the forefront of many people’s minds, it would be great to think that the data centres of the future will impact the planet far less than they do now. Philip Bridge, President, Ontrack thinks that remains to be seen.

01 Sep: Disrupting the built environment with converged network infrastructure

There is growing recognition of the power for IP-based networks to transform the built environment.

IP-based building networks and connected services are helping to enhance the ‘data view’ of buildings and also enabling the creation of new personalised experiences for the users of a building. Indeed, these IoT-enabled services are increasingly seen as a must-have to boost occupant satisfaction and maximise property values. Mike Hook, Executive Director, LMG takes a look at the full potential of the IP approach.

12 Aug: Let’s Get the Industry Moving Again

This year has seen one of the worst financial crises since the Wall Street Crash. The economy has seen a rough start to 2020, thanks to COVID-19 causing mass disruption for manufacturers globally. The electronics sector, much like all major industries, has been substantially affected by the virus in all divisions including events, manufacturing, supply chain and staffing. With COVID-19 grinding spending and production to a halt, official data shows that China’s economy suffered a sharp decline of 6.8% in the first quarter of 2020, according to Business Leader. However, from this date onwards, the global economy looks as if it is starting to bounce back – along with the electronics industry.

11 Aug: Did You Stockpile Because Of BREXIT?

For those unaware, the United Kingdom held a referendum vote on its relationship to the EU back in 2016. The United Kingdom leaving the European Union on Jan. 31, 2020, ten months after its initial scheduled departure has caused a major geopolitical shift. This caused many UK companies to panic buy their stock to prevent access taxes and border gridlocks. However, with Covid-19 circulating the globe, the organisations who stockpiled ahead of Brexit may be in favour. Amy Leary, Marketing Manager at eBOM.com considers whether stockpiling was an intuitively good idea.

10 Aug: Reducing the risk of infectious virus in the indoor air using high efficiency air filtration

With Covid-19 infecting thousands of people since it was discovered in Wuhan, China in December last year, whole countries have been placed in lockdown in a bid to control the spread of this virus. However, this virus is by no means the only threat to human health.

This begs an important question – what can you do to protect yourself from these infections (not to mention other biological contaminants that pose health risks for building occupants such as smoke, mite, bacteria, house dust and pollen)?
Unlike with many other risks, we have no choice about breathing. But while most of us don’t have the power to make the air cleaner, there are some things individuals can do to reduce the effect of these infectious particulates in the air.

06 Aug: Today’s Digital-First Culture: Why We Need Networks That Can Adapt

It’s no secret that the internet is critical to how we live and work and the current pandemic has certainly reinforced this message. Networks need to be well prepared to handle more demand and surges in traffic to continue to deploy scalable, adaptable technologies. Jamie Jefferies, VP and GM of EMEA at Ciena sees how this challenging time has shown how critically dependent we all have become on the network.

04 Aug: Future Proof Resilience for the Data Centre of Tomorrow

The challenge of this decade will be how to prepare for the unknown. The convergence of increased data usage and reliance on digital technology calls upon organisations of the future to be resilient in both their critical infrastructure and their calibre of leadership.
The Resilience Imperative, a report by Sungard Availability Services examines some of the greatest threats to organisational resilience today and their effect on business leaders within the UK and Ireland. Cyber-attacks (53%) within the UK and network failure (56%) within Ireland were the top crises leaders surveyed and believed were most likely to threaten their organisation in 2019. For organisations surveyed the financial impact of downtime equated on average to £1,105,000 a year.
Whilst data centre owners and operators have always sought to mitigate the risks of downtime highlighting the financial impact or reputational damage, increasingly the potential risk to life and the extent to which digital communication underpins the way we live and work is undeniable. The question is not are technology leaders prepared, the question is how prepared?

04 Aug: Keeping the Remote Workforce Up, Running, Connected and Secure

With the lives of so many workers being turned upside down from increased remote working and school closures, one of the big questions for businesses is how to stay productive and safe. This can be a challenge if old business continuity plans (BCP) haven’t kept pace with available technologies.

Unfortunately, attackers are now leveraging fear and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus spread to try to extract money and critical information from organisations and individuals. As a case in point, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of attackers posing as WHO representatives phishing for donations or corporate information and user credentials. The tactic often includes malware-riddled attachments and links urgently imploring the user open the file or click the link.

Some teams use virtual private networks (VPN) to help stay securely connected to their corporate network and applications. Other teammates may use corporate applications that are deployed to public clouds or that are SaaS-based. It is now a major challenge for businesses to ensure everyone is connected, productive and – crucially – able to access vital applications which, today, can be located in any location and across a multitude of devices.

30 Jul: Tips for cybersecurity when working from home during COVID-19

Remote working comes with its risks, mainly in the form of cybersecurity threats. Cyber hackers are on the hunt for network vulnerabilities and opportunities to exploit valuable data, which not only puts employees’ own privacy at risk, but could result in company security breaches too.

Most employees are able to work from their home, where they can secure their Wi-Fi, but others may use unsecured public Wi-Fi networks. This could create opportunities to breach the network, track internet traffic and potentially collect confidential data. It’s also important for businesses to consider the personal devices that their employees are using at home. These will often lack the same level of security tools built into corporate machines, increasing the risk of malware finding its way onto devices, leading to information or data leaks.

28 Jul: Achieving SD-WAN Network Resilience with a “Virtual Hands” Approach

SD-WAN has rapidly become the standard in enterprise deployments. especially as deployments have moved to the edge. An SD-WAN network can manage multiple types of connections, from LTE to broadband to multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) links. This means that traffic can be routed over the most cost-effective services, such as broadband. Services that require high quality, such as video or voice, or high security, with sensitive information, can still be routed over remaining MPLS lines, although many enterprises are freeing themselves of MPLS entirely. Because of this flexibility, SD-WANs can dramatically lessen the cost and minimise the complexity of traditional WANs.

Given the growing prevalence of SD-WAN in corporate infrastructures and the move to home working driven by the current pandemic, keeping these key networks up and running and providing secure remote access to them is increasingly critical.

23 Jul: Significant energy savings for Data Centres with the latest in LED Lighting

Lighting may only consume a fraction of the energy used in data centres but its impact and cost savings go far beyond lighting costs. In addition to saving energy, money and maintenance efforts, LEDs can offer data centres a simple solution that maximises safety and efficiency for staff.
LED lighting has an extremely long life, low carbon emissions and excellent light quality yet, despite all of these positives, data centres have traditionally been slow to adopt it, perhaps because it is estimated that lighting only comprises 3-5 per cent of a facility’s energy load. Lighting may be only a small portion of energy use within data centres but it can have a significant impact on minimising costs and energy used.
Graeme Shaw, Technical Application Manager at Zumtobel Group, explains the benefits of LED lighting in a data centre and the key specification considerations.

21 Jul: Designing data centres for efficiency yields tangible benefits for Enterprise IT

When deploying IT infrastructure to support an enterprise organisation, there are several factors to consider. All of the decisions are based on the specific needs of the business; its type, the customers it services and the applications it needs to support. For many, the first decision however, is whether to own or outsource?
Do the needs of the business require predominantly commercial applications, which can be delivered via the cloud? Or does the organisation depend so crucially on local IT assets for performance, data sovereignty or application speed, that it is more preferable to keep their resources on premise?
As always, cost, mission criticality and performance are the ultimate factors determining the decision, but if it is decided that control of its own IT assets is essential, then an organisation’s task will become focused on designing and building a data centre tailored to meet these demands. In most cases this leaves one final question. How does one deploy the most resilient, secure and operationally efficient data centre solution, in the most cost-effective way?

16 Jul: Corporate WAN at home

With the rapid switch to remote working, many IT departments are struggling to support staff that are now seeing their home networks become an extension of the corporate intranet. Home broadband and WI-FI is no longer just for Netflix, gaming, and social media but now an essential work resource that is competing for bandwidth against other activities in the locked-down home. Although SaaS and cloud-based technologies can help, each displaced user needs a uniformed and managed method that allows secure and reliable remote access – while organisations need to ensure that remote working doesn’t become a security gap for exploitation by cyber criminals.
The immediate response from IT departments to a massive surge in remote working is to deploy additional VPN capacity. Although this provides a more secure tunnel from homeworkers across the internet to corporate resources; VPN does not solve any performance issues.
However, raw bandwidth is not the only issue. Not only are devices treated equally but so is all the application traffic. This means a critical Zoom-based conference call with an important client will have the same delivery priority as another user sending data packets for an online gaming session or streaming cat videos from Facebook.

14 Jul: How converged networks support IoT and building management

Not all that long ago, systems used for different network-based services in buildings would employ a wide variety of protocols and cabling types, often from different manufacturers. Today, however, organisations are increasingly relying on converged infrastructure to consolidate systems, centralise IT resources and boost resource utilisation, and reduce costs.

Increasingly, integrated pools of computers, storage and networking resources are shared across multiple applications using policy-driven processes. By pre-integrating technology components, merging IT resources and automating IT processes, huge efficiency advantages and lower costs can be realised. IoT (Internet of Things) with built-in intelligence and increasing AI integration is rapidly changing Building Automation Systems, helping save energy, increase sustainability, reduce the chance of human error, and enable faster response times and easy customisation. Sensors ensure optimal use of heating, cooling, lighting and ventilation systems. With IoT, highly granular building data from previously separate systems can easily be collected and compared. Advanced analytics and reporting are making buildings more manageable, flexible and future-ready, whilst ensuring ongoing improvement.

09 Jul: Implementing and expanding LANs and Structured Cabling in Healthcare

New technologies are helping manage healthcare costs and boost effectiveness and efficiency. As more digital solutions are introduced, bandwidth demands will continue to soar. IoT is an important driver for this, along with innovations such as remote diagnostics and consulting and telemedicine.

More healthcare applications and devices are converging and migrating to IP-based Ethernet networks. These provide an integrated monitoring and control platform supporting data, WAP, VOIP, IPTV, security, video, communications servers, Picture Archiving and Communication Systems, and Hospital / Radiology Information Systems as well as other applications and devices, from ECGs to VPNs.

However, these innovations add very little value if the network can’t keep up with demand for (symmetrical) bandwidth, uptime and latency. In addition to increasing data volumes, healthcare facilities everywhere are facing challenges in the areas of limited budgets. That requires smart decisions.

07 Jul: Controlling Power and Gathering Data at the Cabinet is Essential

Performance, availability and efficiency in IT infrastructure often seem to be a contradiction in terms. Data centre availability crucially requires a secure power supply, which begins with the feed-in and distribution. Whether core, cloud or edge data centre – the current market drivers require three attributes from data centre infrastructures: to be smarter, more efficient and more secure.

In the expanding world of networked IT, it is estimated that by 2025 there will be up to 75 billion end devices (source: Statista), generating vast amounts of data. According to an IDC study, within five years the global data volume will be 175 Zettabytes (175 x 1021). Operators, managers and designers of data centres face enormous challenges when designing or modernising their IT infrastructure.

30 Jun: How the internet keeps pace with the surge of traffic during a pandemic

Todd Kiehn, VP of product management, GTT, shares how global internet service providers have been collaborating to scale the internet’s capacity to meet surging demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, the internet has become even more vital as a means to help people stay connected. It allows us all to overcome physical distances, share information instantaneously and continue to collaborate. Across the world, the internet is enabling critical applications that help us adapt to life in the home environment including teleworking, distance learning, telemedicine, video chat, streaming and remote gaming.

While online usage rates have seen exponential growth at times over the past decades, nothing compares with how much more we’re interacting online during this global pandemic. At GTT, we have seen a surge of roughly 30 percent in total traffic across our internet network since the outbreak of the pandemic. This growth rate is typically experienced over the course of an entire year, rather than a few weeks.

Network operators are well equipped to manage dramatic increases in traffic, but to understand how this works on a global scale, it’s useful to understand how the global internet works.

25 Jun: When is Edge technology NOT Edge ready

The IT hardware industry’s history is littered with attempts to tweak traditional kit and claim it as a fit-for-purpose new solution for emerging requirements.

Recent news from notable IT server manufacturers appear to signal a fast to market solution for high-performance computing at the edge, however, are these solutions what they appear to be?
David Craig, CEO, Iceotope, believes that many of these new solutions are not the innovations that edge compute requires. If the latest and possibly the largest generator of data over the next decade is to be a benefit there’s more inside the box than reconfigured servers.

David gives us his opinion on what he believes is big IT firms repackaging rack systems and claiming they are Edge optimised.

23 Jun: A holistic approach to open networking

As businesses grow and become more diverse, so do their networks. Most administrators are used to thinking about their networks in terms of tiers, sitting neatly in their individual compartments: access is different to branch, which is different to campus, which is different to the data centre. While it can be easier to focus on one area at a time, the reality is that networks consist of numerous connectivity options which occupy multiple teams across the entire business. In order to manage this effectively, businesses need to treat their networks as a holistic entity.
Looking at the network holistically—both as it exists, and as it’s likely to evolve—is a complicated, but very important, process. Companies will inevitably experience periods of organic growth, which may necessitate the acquisition of new equipment, as well as periods of unexpected growth, such as with mergers and acquisitions (M&As).

18 Jun: Data Centre Sustainability through Digitalisation

Data centres have evolved from a few servers sitting in the closet of an office building to 50+ MW dedicated facilities. But data centres today are not just larger, more power-hungry commercial facilities, they are part of the fabric of our digital lives.
As the demands for efficiency and capacity increase for data centres, Ciarán Flanagan from ABB discusses the role digital solutions have to play in ensuring their sustainable future.

16 Jun: Greening the data centre – how a power-hungry industry can meet its environmental commitments

It’s no secret that the data centre industry has a significant environmental impact. In response to ever-increasing demand from end-users and content providers, the world’s data centres use more than 400 terawatts of energy every year – more than Britain’s total electricity consumption. Indeed, at three percent of the global electricity supply and accounting for about two percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, data centres have a large carbon footprint.

On the surface, the issue looks set to get worse. The reliance on data centres is only going to grow as internet penetration rates increase across the world in locations where internet freedom is only just becoming widespread.

David Watkins, Solutions Director for VIRTUS Data Centres looks at how we can green the data centre further.

12 Jun: Misconceptions About Insurance

The majority’s perception is that a UPS protects a critical load from power outages. However, it also provides protection against other supply anomalies such as dips, surges, spikes and brown-outs, to provide clean continuous power to that all important critical load. It is a bit like an insurance policy. If at the end of the year there are no problems, then you may think your investment in a UPS has been wasted. However, one small interruption to that critical load (even 20ms!) could cost you thousands of pounds in business interruption, lost revenue, and potentially most damaging of all: customer confidence.
Mike Elms, Managing Director at CENTIEL UK Ltd finds the common misconceptions around UPS systems that may cause that insurance policy not to pay out when needed.

10 Jun: Could Fixed Wireless Access be the answer to keeping people connected during the global pandemic?

Many aspects of daily life have been able to continue while respecting all-important social distancing, thanks in part to the ability to stay connected with family and friends, remain up to date with the latest news and government advice, or work remotely from home. But whilst things are changing constantly, getting everyone and everything connected can still be a challenge. Here we look at some of the examples of where the flexibility of fixed wireless access (FWA) can help to overcome the barriers caused by COVID-19.

05 May: Ensuring Network Continuity in Times of Crisis

At times of crisis, keeping networks up and running and providing remote access is increasingly important to organisations. Large numbers of workers need to work from home but still need to be able to access the corporate network in order to keep the business going. At the current time there is a higher premium than ever on secure remote access and network resilience – as business continuity becomes even more vital.

07 Apr: Keeping the information superhighway clear

Air filters in data centres offer a host of solid business benefits in a whole range of different applications.They can prevent expensive and disruptive equipment downtime and failure as well as shield against electromagnetic interference that causes data errors and equipment failure. Data centre customers rely on air filtration to maintain the flow of clean air as well as the secure flow of data. Read our feature on data centre air filters.

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