Case Study | Finding The Correct Route

An old client of ours was moving in to a new and much bigger office space as part of their business expansion plan. We were brought in to design and install a new network for their computer system. The office had been empty for nearly 2 years, and the marks on the building were starting to show. Whoever had been in previously had installed a very low budget network, and although the trunking was still intact, all the cables had broken connectors and needed to be removed, so it was as much about removing the old as bringing in the new. The building already had VDSL internet installed so we didn’t have to wait around for the telecoms company to do their bit which meant we could get in quickly with the aim of installing the network before the company moved in. The main office space had a very high ceiling with the cabling running along steel girders which surrounded the main office. This meant it would be easy to make the cabling discreet but it meant working at a height on ladders which would slow the process down.

We drew up a network diagram so we could submit this plan to the client. The office was split between 2 floors and they hadn’t decided where all the desks were going to go yet so although we could plan where the cabling would go, we couldn’t plan their exact exit point so we knew we would have to keep the planning flexible. The plan was approved and we estimated a 1 to 2 day time frame to get the work done. The network was going to be a combination of wired connections for the desktop computers and wireless access points for visiting clients. The most awkward part would be the installation of the main cable run from the server room upstairs through to the main working area on the lower floor. We ran the cabling along the pre-installed trunking to the exit point on the ceiling of the lower floor. Using ladders, we ran the cable along the girders and down to the floor level. We installed a second redundant line as a backup in case the main line ever failed. Now that the route was laid out we just needed to set up the server and desktops.

The server room was based upstairs in a small closet but was big enough to house the server rack. We couldn’t get around the rack once it was in the closet so we had to build it and then slide it in. We had pre-installed Mac OS server on to the hardware along with a mirrored RAID set for data backup. The server and internet router were then connected to an 8 bus switch which was connected to the main line and was sent to the downstairs office. The 8 bus switch gave us 5 inputs for connecting any desktop computers that would be in the upstairs office, as well as being able to connect wirelessly to the Wi-Fi router. We then installed a 24 bus switch downstairs which connected to the cable we previously installed. That gave us plenty of sockets for the downstairs desktop computers. We also connected a wireless access point to the switch to give Wi-Fi to the downstairs office.

The main installation was now complete, however we realised that due to the size of the downstairs office, the wireless signal struggled to reach to the other side of the room. We decided to add a second wireless access point to the other side of the office by using powerline networking. Powerline networking utilises the building’s mains electric sockets and via an adapter, sends the broadband signal through the mains of the office which can then be picked up by any other socket as long as it’s on the same circuit as the entry point socket. Luckily all of the downstairs sockets were on the same circuit so we had no problem sending the signal this way. The exit point adapter plugged in to the extra wireless access point and that completed the network installation. When the desks were installed we connected the desktop computers to the switch by running the cabling under the floor panels which kept everything nice and tidy.

The installation was relatively simple, thanks to good planning and allowing for a degree of flexibility. Networking isn’t as complicated as most people believe thanks to the advances in automated technology but it is such an integral part of any workspace that needs to be done to a very high standard, so always call the professionals!