Building Corporate Backbone

When the owners of ING Investment Products Group decided to build a new headquarters in West Chester, Pa., cabling infrastructure was a big concern. Recognizing the fast pace of technological developments and how difficult it is to avoid rapid obsolescence, they wanted a voice and data infrastructure that gave them not only reliable performance, but also longevity.

01/01/1970


When the owners of ING Investment Products Group decided to build a new headquarters in West Chester, Pa., cabling infrastructure was a big concern. Recognizing the fast pace of technological developments and how difficult it is to avoid rapid obsolescence, they wanted a voice and data infrastructure that gave them not only reliable performance, but also longevity.

This three-story, 120,000-square-foot facility now houses the primary operations for the company, a business that has become one of the fastest growing annuity companies around, managing more that $4.8 billion in assets. Managing data is obviously a big concern, and with a growing base, scalability needed to be factored in. The best solution appeared to be a category-6 cabling specification.

Building the network

The category-6 cabling specification—still undergoing development as a standard—currently represents the most advanced standard for high-speed data transmission over unshielded twisted-pair copper wiring. The design approach decided upon for the ING facility runs "cat-6" cabling to each desktop, utilizing 50/125-micron multimode fiber as a backbone and connecting the network switches in five wiring closets to the firm's first-floor data center.

Each of the approximately 620 communications faceplates at the users' workstations has space for four wiring jack inserts. Two of these jacks are wired as cabling drops for the data network, with the other two as voice jacks. The data drops use cat-6 cabling and RJ45 jacks, while the two voice jacks are fed by a single category-3 cable. One wire pair within the voice cabling connects to the firm's private-branch-exchange voice switch and terminates at the user end with an RJ45 jack. The second wire pair is terminated with an RJ11 jack at the user faceplate; this line can be used for a modem, an analog phone or an analog fax machine.

The wiring coming from users' work areas converges on five wiring closets located throughout the building. Here, autosensing 10/100 megabits per second (Mbps) Ethernet switches serve as wiring concentrators and offer speed conversions between the various network links. In addition, 6-strand 50/125-micron multimode optical fiber cabling provides the backbone connection between the 1,000-Mbps Ethernet uplink ports of the switches.

Backbone backups

In a fairly novel arrangement, there's also a copper-based Ethernet backbone run in parallel with the fiber backbone, as a backup for the main backbone. Two cables running to each network switch form the copper backbone, which was put in place just in case something should happen to a fiber or a switch interface.

In all, some 720,000 feet of copper cable and 1,800 feet of fiber went into the cabling plant. Seventy-six 48-port patch panels were also employed.

Now that the network is in place, the ING staff is getting the results they had hoped for. Plus, the design leaves headroom for future performance upgrades, as technology matures and its costs decline. One such upgrade could be Ethernet instead of copper connections for the servers. With the cabling that is deployed to the desktop, ING engineers even have the option of moving Ethernet to the desktop.

For more information on Quantum Cabling from AMP Netconnect, circle 101 on the Reader Service Card on page 73.





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