SA research institute deploys new network infrastructure

Wednesday, 24 July, 2013

Network infrastructure is a vital part of the South Australian Health Medical Research Institute’s (SAHMRI) new research facility in Adelaide.

SAHMRI is a new, $200 million facility built to attract researchers from Australia and around the world.

Network infrastructure is the foundation for all scientific and administrative systems at a major research establishment, so network performance is critical to research efficiency. The project team assessed a variety of structured cabling options, ultimately choosing SYSTIMAX 360 solutions from CommScope.

Their decision included iPatch, a solution that gives systems managers a real-time view of the network physical layer.

“Up-to-the-moment information on connection status helps minimise costly network downtime. Displays on the patching frames provide technicians with guidance as they make moves, adds and changes, so they work faster with fewer errors,” said Michelle Gheorghiu, project director at SAHMRI.

In addition to connecting data systems, the SAHMRI network also supports other extra-low-voltage systems including building management, security, voice over internet protocol (VoIP) and lighting control. With so many critical applications depending on the same infrastructure, SAHMRI needed reliable copper and fibre cabling.

SAHMRI worked with TAF & Associates and Aurecon Consulting. Their decision was to use GigaSpeed X10D copper cabling for horizontal connections and a combination of TeraSpeed and LazrSpeed fibre for network backbones.

Copper and fibre connections in the SAHMRI installation are managed using iPatch panels that allow system managers to monitor network connections and attached devices from a desktop PC. The iPatch software can also automatically alert managers to any unauthorised network connections changes.

Change orders can be created and sent to displays on the distribution frames. On-screen instructions guide technicians on where to make new connections. When completed correctly, the iPatch software notifies system managers and updates network diagrams held in the iPatch database.

The network infrastructure designed and installed at SAHMRI by TAF & Associates has nearly 5000 Category 6A outlets. To provide connections for all current and future systems supported by the network, the building’s 10 floors are flood-wired with GigaSpeed X10D cabling. This is linked back to 18 distribution frames via multiple distribution points on each floor, making it easy for the institute to reconfigure work areas.

As research teams initiate new projects and complete existing ones, systems and equipment can be added or removed from the network very quickly. In this dynamic environment, iPatch helps optimise the allocation of cabling resources and ensure new connections are made quickly and correctly.

“With the vision, knowledge and control they get from iPatch, our facilities managers can stay a step ahead of demand for connectivity throughout the building,” said Gheorghiu. “They can instantly see what connections are available - and they know that the network diagram in the iPatch database is always accurate. This is essential for providing high-quality service to researchers at the institute.”

To complete the configuration and commissioning of all these systems, TAF & Associates deployed a team of te10 engineers and technicians. In total, they installed 366 km of GigaSpeed X10D cable routed above ceilings to dropdowns connecting desk-mounted outlets. All of these connections and their fibre backbones are monitored and managed via 90 iPatch panels and 17 iPatch rack manager units installed on the distribution frames.

To accommodate the consolidation points for the horizontal cabling, the TAF team worked with Aurecon to design floor plates that provided sufficient space. They also designed the backbones cables with redundant fibres, connecting all floors to improve network resilience.

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