What is IT Infrastructure & How Has It Progressed

IT Infrastructure

 

When we talk about Infrastructure, we are talking about physical connectivity (identified as Layer One within the IP Stack, 7- layer model)

In the past 40 or so years, connectivity has evolved from individual, system specific and bespoke cabling systems, to what became known as structured cabling.

 

There are two main elements to structured cabling; Copper, twisted cable and RJ45 terminations as defined under universal “Category” standards and Fibre Optic cable, based on transmission standards cable and universal connectors.

 

The advent of structured cabling came about as a result of two things:

A need to define a single connectivity architecture, based on universal cable specification and connectivity, that could deliver multiple protocols at speeds and capacities that could support all known applications, within a defined distance (100m). This architecture was then codified into a set of universally accepted standards (the originally defined standard was defined Category 3, which utilised 4 pairs of copper cable, that were twisted together in a uniform way, within a single outer sheath, and RJ45 terminations). A need to provide a connectivity system that offered guaranteed performance capabilities that would enable Manufacturers to design and build new network systems.

 

Overtime, network protocol requirements have narrowed to the extent that TCP/IP (IP) has emerged as pretty much the universal standard. In parallel, performance demands for greater speed and operating capacity have significantly increased.

This in turn has led to improvements and enhancements to the physical make up of cables in particular:

  • Category 4; the standard was raised to guarantee IBM’s 16Mbps Token Ring capability.
  • Category 5; the standard was raised again to support all other known capabilities, whilst trying to standardise on 10Mbps Ethernet.
  • Enhanced Category 5, (universally referred to as Cat 5e); same architecture but upgraded to support up to 100Mbps.
  • Category 6; again, similar architecture, but also introducing 4 pair shielded cable and upgraded to support up to 1Gbps.
  • Augmented Category 6 (universally referred to as Cat 6a); again, similar architecture, but requiring that the 4 pair cable had to be shielded and upgraded to support up to 10Gbps.
  • Category 7; a departure from the architecture of the preceding standards in that it offers significantly higher operating frequencies, within a similar cable, but uses GG45 terminations. This standard was principally designed for Data Centres and the requirement to deliver “backbone” traffic at significantly higher speeds.

This process has continued on similar design lines and we are now on the cusp of Cat 8A

 

In parallel, Fibre Optic cabling systems have been adapted to support similar, architectural protocols. Originally, Fibre Optic cable, where communications protocols are delivered by converting data to light sources, was defined as singlemode and deployed for long haul, cross continental and inter-continental communication connectivity. Singlemode is defined as a single, continuous and straight line, light transmission between two points. The universal standards for these types of data transmission have been defined as OS1, OS2 and currently OS3

 

Overtime, these systems have been adapted to deliver high density and high-speed transmissions over much shorter distances and then within and between buildings, defined as multimode. Multimode architecture supports the simultaneous transmission of multiple signals in wave forms. The universal standards for these types of data transmission have been defined as OM1, OM2 OM3 and currently OM4

 

As a general rule, when defining an IT cabling infrastructure, the designers focus on delivering Copper cabling to all outlet locations, within an overall cable length of 90m maximum, with an allowance of a further 10m for the final connection lead at each end. The other key criteria are that any circuit must have the fewest possible connections; ideally, patch panel directly to outlet with patchcord connections to device at one end and source at the other.

 

Fibre Optic cables are typically used as “backbone” connections to enable much higher speed data transmissions between floors, or between adjoining buildings.

 

There are other applications for each; we are currently delivering Fibre Optic cabling into new domestic properties on behalf of Virgin Media. In addition, the relationship between and deployment of, Copper and Fibre cables become somewhat interposable within datacentres.

 

We are proven experts on all aspects of design and implementation of these systems. Indeed, for two years, I served on the standards advisory board that defined and adjudicated all of the standards for delivering IT cabling systems for all Government Departments.

 

If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

 

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