After we've moved our IT Consulting business to our new office in Richmond,
one of the challenges was to install computer network.
Initially, it seemed like an easy task
- previous tenant of this office was a company doing web design, and
they left all the installation intact, I guess it wasn't worth to them
to go through the hassle of removing all the cabling, etc...
It was fairly new installation, they've been there only for one year, so I was hoping to simply reuse their CAT5 cabling. To my surprise, I discovered, that they used to have one central network switch (or hub ? who knows, they took it with them) located in the most akward location (a storage room), and they also had hundreds of CAT5 cables, laid out in the ceiling and floors, to connect each single computer in the office to the network switch.
I'm wondering who designs stuff like this ? I guess in the 80s or 90s, when network switches or hubs were pricey, it made sense to just buy ONE big switch, and spend rest of the money on the cables.
In many cases design like was a nightmare for network administrators, as usually after a year or two, the documentation and diagrams of the cabling was long gone and forgotten even by the oldest employees, and every new network admin had to tirelessly re-discover which cables connects to which computer or phone :) And I tell you, these cables all look alike...
These days human labor costs much more than fancy network switches, so it makes better sense to save on time and cables, and use several (e.g. four) smaller network switches or hubs, and less cables. In this case it's going to be less messy and hopefully more logical (e.g. grouping servers or workstation that talk a lot to each other on the same switch).
Wireless connectivity is still a no-no for bigger offices, as each wireless channel can only handle small number of users simultainously, and we simply can't have twenty people in the office using the same wireless router on the same channel, so network cabling is here to stay for at least a while.
Big network switches still can be of course used - e.g. if you have two racks full of servers, the only logical solution would be to have all of them plugged to one big, rack mounted switch. Too bad all these older switches are usually 10Mb-100Mb, rather than 1Gb, so it still seems reasonable to invest in new hardware and throw away the old one... It is strongly recommended to ask network IT consultant for opinion before laying down first cable and before buying any equipment.
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