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This chapter is from the book

Installing and Configuring Equipment

  • Given a scenario, install and configure equipment in the appropriate location using best practices.

Topics in this chapter have focused on the benefits of various WAN technologies and safety practices. This section expands that to look at the actual installation and configuration of equipment using best practices.

Distribution Frames

A distribution frame is a concept from telephony of various stations. You have a main distribution frame (MDF) and various intermediate distribution frames (IDFs). The MDF is a termination point where cables originate from. Everything lesser than that (switching stations) are IDFs. Where these come into play with most networks is with wiring closets.

The main wiring closet for a network typically holds the majority of the network gear, including routers, switches, wiring, servers, and more. This is also typically the wiring closet where outside lines run into the network. This main wiring closet is known as the MDF. One of the key components in the MDF is a primary patch panel. The network connector jacks attached to this patch panel lead out to the building for network connections.

In some networks, multiple wiring closets are used. When this is the case, the MDF connects to these secondary wiring closets, or IDFs, using a backbone cable. This backbone cable may be UTP, fiber, or even coaxial. In today’s high-speed networks, UTP Gigabit Ethernet or high-speed fiber are the media of choice.

Cable Management

If you have ever looked in a telecommunications room, you have probably seen a distribution block, more commonly called a patch panel. A patch panel is a freestanding or wall-mounted unit with a number of RJ-45 port connections on the front. In a way, it looks like a wall-mounted hub without the light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The patch panel provides a connection point between network equipment such as hubs and switches and the ports to which PCs are connected, which normally are distributed throughout a building.

Cable trays can be used to carry cabling throughout the building. Trays run overhead and usually either resemble racks/wire shelving (having open bottoms) or have solid bottoms to blend in easier with the aesthetics of the environment. Trays are often used when reconfiguration may be a regular thing or it is too costly to run wiring through pipe, walls, and other building fixtures.

Power Management

As great as the configuration may be, a network just cannot run without power. When you design the network, make sure to include power converters (which step the voltage down), power inverters (which step the power up), redundancy (should a circuit become unstable), and plenty of UPS (uninterruptible power supply) devices.

Device Placement and Labeling

Device placement is important for safety reasons, electrical access, and for air flow. Make certain you install each device safely and in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations.

Make certain, as well, that you carefully label and document everything that you do. Imagine what you would need to have if you had to troubleshoot the system and had no prior knowledge of it and then create those necessary elements for someone who may have to step into your shoes. Be sure to label systems, ports, circuits, and patch panels. Be sure to follow standard naming conventions that you use consistently throughout.

Rack Systems

Most server rooms are now nothing more than rows of racks. When dealing with them, know that security is important, both physical (you cannot have them tumbling over) and accesswise, and you need to carefully monitor them (for access and for environmental conditions).

The four main components of rack systems are as follows:

  • Server rail racks: These are the rails that hold the servers within the rack.
  • Two-post racks: As the name implies, the servers are attached to the rack system at two locations (one on each side).
  • Four-post racks: The servers are attached to the rack system at four locations (two on each side).
  • Free-standing racks: These can stand on their own and support the servers within, as opposed to being mounted to a wall.

Cram Quiz

  1. Which of the following is a server rack system in which servers are attached to the rack at four locations (two on each side)?

    • circ.jpg A. Anchored rack
    • circ.jpg B. Four-post rack
    • circ.jpg C. Generous rack
    • circ.jpg D. Affixed rack
  2. Which of the following are often used when wiring reconfiguration in a building may be a regular thing or it is too costly to run wiring through pipe, walls, and other fixtures?

    • circ.jpg A. KVMs
    • circ.jpg B. Cable ledges
    • circ.jpg C. Cable racks
    • circ.jpg D. Cable trays
  3. Which of the following are used to step power up from one voltage to another?

    • circ.jpg A. Switches
    • circ.jpg B. Translators
    • circ.jpg C. Converters
    • circ.jpg D. Inverters

Cram Quiz Answers

  1. B. A four-post is a server rack system in which servers are attached to the rack at four locations (two on each side).
  2. D. Cable trays run overhead and can be used to carry cabling throughout the building. They usually have open bottoms like wire shelving or have solid bottoms to blend in easier with the aesthetics of the environment.
  3. D. Power inverters are used to step power up from one voltage (low) to another (high). The opposite of this is a power converter, which goes from a higher voltage to a lower one.
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