3 Benefits of using managed switches

Managed and unmanaged network switches both have their purposes. Here’s a quick look at the advantages of using managed switches.

1.)    Minimizing network downtime
A major advantage of managed switches is the failover redundancy they add to your network, helping to achieve less network downtime. Recent studies exploring IT downtime found that that the average business loses $159,331 per year through downtime and data recovery. It’s estimated that businesses’ ability to generate revenue is reduced by 29%.

Managed switches can help companies avoid these problems by allowing for failover links in the network. Protocols, like an Alpha-Ring topology, that achieve a 30 millisecond or less failover time after a network link is broken help minimize downtime and help enable a more convenient network infrastructure with reduced cable costs. Standardized protocols like Rapid Spanning Tree (RSTP), Multiple Spanning Tree (MSTP), and Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) allow for failover links and interoperability over multiple vendor switches.

In addition, features like the Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP) enable the user to add more bandwidth for high flow-rate applications without changing the cable type on the switch. These features of managed switches, operating alone or in combination, can create a low-downtime, low-latency network.

2.)    Cutting operational expenses
Another area in which the managed switch can assist in lowering IT costs is in operational expenses. This can be accomplished because managed switches enable you to remotely access and monitor your network, removing the need to keep staff onsite 24/7 at remote locations just to monitor network health.

Management communications tools like Telnet, RS-232, a Web browser, or SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) enable you to get an update on the status of your network. And they give you the ability to access and control your device remotely in order to make changes or troubleshoot issues. Managed switches feature advanced network diagnostic tools such as Port Mirroring and Remote Network Monitoring (RMON) that give you a visual breakdown of network traffic per port, as well as the ability to troubleshoot and bench test network equipment/devices. Continue reading

Black Box Explains: The ANSI/ISA Standard for Hazardous Locations

Fires and explosions are a major safety concern in industrial plants. Electrical equipment that must be installed in these locations should be specifically designed and tested to operate under extreme conditions. The hazardous location classification system was designed to promote the safe use of electrical equipment in those areas “where fire or explosion hazards may exist due to flammable gases or vapors, flammable liquids, combustible dust, or ignitable fibers of flyings.”

The NEC and CSA define hazardous locations by three classes:

Class 1: Gas or vapor hazards
Class 2: Dust hazards
Class 3: Fibers and flyings

And two divisions:
Division 1: An environment where ignitable gases, liquids, vapors or dusts can exist
Division 2: Locations where ignitables are not likely to exist

Hazardous classes are further defined by groups A, B, C, D, E, F, and G:

A. Acetylene
B. Hydrogen
C. Ethlene, carbon monoxide
D. Hydrocarbons, fuels, solvents
E. Metals
F. Carbonaceous dusts including coal, carbon black, coke
G. Flour, starch, grain, combustible plastic or chemical dust Continue reading

The difference between CAT6 and CAT6A cable diameters

Although shielded cable has the reputation of being bigger, bulkier, and more difficult to handle and install than unshielded cable, this is not the case with CAT6A F/UTP cable. It is actually easier to handle than CAT6A UTP; requires less space to maintain proper bend radius; and uses smaller conduits, cable trays, and pathways.

CAT6A UTP is significantly larger than CAT6 and CAT6A F/UTP cable because it is designed with more interior space between the pairs to minimize ANEXT. The outside diameter of CAT6A F/UTP can be as large as 0.354” compared to 0.265” – 0.30” for CAT6A F/UTP, and 0.21” – 9.24” for CAT6.

CAT6A UTP cable design differs among manufacturers. It may have double interior pair separators and/or a rigid jacket with a gear-shaped interior wall to create interior air space and decrease crosstalk.

CAT6A UTP is constructed with larger conductors, usually 23 AWG, and tighter twists than are used in CAT6 and CAT5e cable. The heavier conductors and heavier, larger, rigid jacket combine to make CAT6A UTP more difficult to install. It also requires bend radius of 4x O.D., which is significantly larger than CAT6 and CAT6A F/UTP.

The CAT6A UTP outside diameter creates a difference in the fill rate of cabling pathways.

TIA-569 recommends a maximum conduit fill ratio of 40% to accommodate bend radius requirements and to allow for future expansion. An increase in the outside diameter (O.D.) of 0.1”, from 0.25” to 0.35”, represents a 21% increase in fill volume.

In general, CAT6A F/UTP cable provides a minimum of 35% more fill capacity than CAT6A UTP cable. For example, at a 40% fill ratio, you can run three CAT6A UTP cables in a ¾” conduit verses five CAT6 cables, and three CAT6A F/UTP cables.

In addition, innovations in connector technology have made terminating CAT6A F/UTP cable actually easier than terminating bulkier CAT6A UTP cable.


Black Box at NAB April 7-10, 2014

Black Box helps clients in the media and broadcasting industry design, build, deploy, and upgrade mission-critical monitoring and control solutions, video processing and distribution infrastructure, and high-performance networking systems to improve collaboration and productivity, lower operating costs, and simplify back-end support systems to deliver clear competitive advantages.

Come see these solutions in action at NAB (National Association Broadcasters), the world’s largest electronic media showing, April 7 – 10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

We’re located at booth N3119, next to Miranda and Ross in the North Hall. Stop by to learn about our professional broadcast and media solutions. This year we are featuring:

You can see more at blackbox.com/Broadcast. If you’d like to schedule a specific time to visit and see product demonstrations, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Win an iPad, Chromebook, Tablet, and Laptop Cart!

Last week we announced the launch of a contest that will award a Black Box iPad®, Chromebook®, Tablet, and Laptop Cart to a lucky winner once every quarter through March 2015.

Our Tablet and Laptop Carts are perfect for schools, and safely charge and store tablets, laptops, netbooks, notebooks, and e-readers in a secure cart that adapts to changing needs and technology. Carts can also sync iPad tablets using iTunes®.12-Questions-Tablet-Laptop-Cart

The carts are uniquely designed with a standardized rack system and flexible configurations, which means that carts won’t have to be replaced every time users change or upgrade their tablets, laptops, or other devices. The carts can be easily reconfigured to meet evolving needs. User-friendly cable management bars enable simplified cable routing while also allowing easy changes. Additional options are available, including pre-wired units for maximum savings and efficiency—no IT staff is needed.

In addition, the carts were designed with safety in mind and are ideal for schools that use e-learning devices in the classroom. The carts have no ledges for children to climb, no sharp edges, and have internal electrical components for maximum safety. One option is a “pinchless” tambour door that helps prevent injury. The carts have locking doors and a locking rear-access panel to keep electronic devices secure.

To enter the Tablet and Laptop Cart Contest and get our free 12 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Tablet & Laptop Cart white paper, go to http://www.blackbox.com/CartContest.

The promotion is open to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia who are at least eighteen (18) years old at the time of entry. Full Terms and Conditions here.


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