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Black Box Explains…Remote monitoring.

Beyond virus protection.
It has become almost automatic to protect your data center by backing up your servers, installing firewalls and virus protection, and keeping the protection up-to-date.

But what about... more/see it nowmore tangible threats? Do you have hot spots in your racks? If the cooling system shuts down, how will you know when temperatures climb out of control? Are you alerted to humidity changes or water leaks that threaten your equipment?

Planning for the unexpected is a critical task because there are more systems performing mission-critical functions than ever before. These systems are often deployed without the proper environmental infrastructure to support them. Equipment density is increasing constantly, which is creating more stress on ventilation and power.

The top three IT risks:
1. Environmental disruption.
The number one cause of downtime for remote locations, environmental problems go beyond fires and floods and affect as much as 30% of a company’s mission-critical infrastructure. Cooling and power are key points of exposure and increase as equipment density does.

2. Unnecessary risk.
When systems are housed in less-than-optimal settings, or are in remote and unsupervised locations, any error causes downtime. Yet, it’s not practical to have someone babysitting the servers.

3. Sabotage.
Regardless of the probability, terrorism is now something each of us must plan for. Your systems can also be brought down from within if the proper security safeguards are not in place.

What’s an environmental monitoring system?
Environmental monitoring products enable you to actively monitor the conditions in your rack, server room, data center, or anywhere else you need to protect critical assets. Conditions monitored include extreme temperatures, humidity, power spikes and surges, water leaks, smoke, and chemical materials. With proper environmental monitoring, you’re alerted to any conditions that could have an adverse effect on your mission-critical equipment. These products can also alert you to potential damage from human error, hacking, or prying fingers.

Environmental monitors consist of three main elements: a base unit, probes or sensors, and network connectivity and integration. The base units may contain one or more built-in sensors, as well as ports for hooking up external probes. Additionally, they include an Ethernet port and have software for remote configuration and graphing. This software may also work with existing network management software, such as SNMP systems.

Measurement.
An environmental monitoring appliance displays the values measured by the attached probes, e.g. temperature, humidity, airflow, status of dry contact, door, motion detector, and other sensors.

Data collecting and graphing.
Measurements are periodically stored in the internal memory or external storage media and displayed as graphs.

Alerting.
When the measured value exceeds the predefined threshold, it triggers an alert: a blinking LED on the front panel, an audible alarm, SNMP trap, e-mail, etc. The environmental monitoring appliance can also activate an external alarm system like a siren or strobe light.

Benefits of environmental monitoring:

  • Reduced downtime—When things go wrong, you’re the first to know. Minimize downtime by being alerted about conditions that cause damage to servers and other network devices.
  • Increased profits—Environmental monitoring systems are easy to implement. Also, they help you cut replacement equipment costs and redistribute your workforce more effectively.
  • Increased employee satisfaction—With built-in notification features like e-mail, SMS, and SNMP traps, a remote monitoring system enables employees to better manage their work.

  • Applications:
    Envornmental and security monitoring systems can be used for a variety of applications, including:
  • Data center monitoring
  • Computer room monitoring
  • Rackmount industrial equipment
  • Telecommunications
  • UPS/battery backup
  • Educational institutions
  • Food and beverage applications
  • Buildings/warehouses
  • Air conditioner/refrigerants/freezer monitoring
  • Greenhouses
  • collapse


    Black Box Explains...Category 6.

    Category 6 (CAT6)–Class E has a specified frequency of 250 MHz, significantly improved bandwidth capacity over CAT5e, and easily handles Gigabit Ethernet transmissions. In recent years, it has been the... more/see it nowcable of choice for new structured cabling systems. CAT6 supports 1000BASE-T and, depending on the installation, 10GBASE-T (10-GbE).

    10-GbE over CAT6 introduces the problem of Alien Crosstalk (ANEXT), the unwanted coupling of signals between adjacent pairs and cables. Because ANEXT in CAT6 10-GbE networks is so dependent on installation practices, TSB-155 qualifies 10-GbE over CAT6 up to 55 meters and requires it to be 100% tested. To mitigate ANEXT in CAT6, it is recommended that you unbundle the cables and increase the separation between the cables.

    You can always contact Black Box Tech Support to answer your cabling questions. Our techs can recommend cable testers and steer you in the right direction when you’re installing new cabling. And the advice is FREE! collapse


    Planning a digital signage system.

    How to plan a digital signage project. Considering the many available digital signage solutions might seem like an overwhelming task. But taking some time to research and understand your options will... more/see it nowbe well worth the investment for your institution. Follow these key steps: 1. You need to understand and articulate the objective at the start. Clearly define the goals and determine how you will measure and analyze against the goals. Determine what information you want to communicate and for what purpose. You may want it to give you one or more of the following: • Sales uplift. • Brand messaging. • Entertainment for waiting customers. • Better internal communications. • Public messaging. • Third-party advertising. It is not only imperative to understand what you want the signage to accomplish but also how it will be evaluated. In short, “How will the success or failure of the system be judged and by whom?” What metrics of judgment will be used: ROI, ROO, or other qualifiers? 2. Clearly define the content: The success of any digital signage system starts, of course, with the content. It must look fresh, exciting, and professional. Who will create it and how will it be presented? Do you have internal resources and expertise, or will you need to outsource content creation? A good source of creative and editorial help can be found in aspiring graphic designers culled from the student ranks, in addition to your school’s art department, yearbook and newspaper staffs, and TV studio (if you have one). 3. Invest the time to understand your options: Once you’ve decided on content, you need to consider the infrastructure that will deliver it and study your display options: LCD vs. plasma? RSS feeds? Live video? Remote management? Playback verification? The options will seem limitless, so taking time to sort through them is imperative. 4. Involve all the appropriate stakeholders: The communications/information department should be involved at the start, considering that your digital signage will likely be used for external community relations. If it‘s a K–12 application, you’ll need to include not only your district’s superintendent, principals, purchasing personnel, and IT staff, but also quite possibly instructional technology and AV staff, as well as maintenance, curriculum, athletic, and cafeteria directors. 5. Figure out how you’re going to pay for it: Digital signage is often viewed by some as a luxury item? —? particularly in the face of shrinking school budgets. But because it can also be used as a tool for emergency communications and notification, administrators can easily make the case that digital signage is a must-have component of any crisis plan — especially in this day and age when school violence incidents capture news headlines. Consider government sources of funding for your digital notification system (federal funds are available from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for pre-disaster mitigation and preparedness, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice, for instance). Whether it’s earmarked entirely as an IT expenditure or apportioned across multiple departments in your budget, you need a spending roadmap in addition to a developmental one. The hardest part with this may be determining the total cost of ownership over the life of the system, including any nickling-and-diming with ongoing licenses and upgrades. College administrators, however, can easily make the case from a cost-savings perspective. Having to constantly update traditional signage across a campus can be quite costly. Paper signage is expensive to print and replace regularly. With digital signage, no printed material is necessary, so both time and cost savings can be made, and the environmental impact is minimized. 6. Decide how to implement the solution: Based on your deployment size and scope, decide if you can implement it in-house or if you need the help of a professional integrator. A number of “out-of-the box” systems can be set up with relative ease. But the more dynamic and complex the system, the more complicated the implementation and ongoing management? — ?and the more likely you’ll need outside help. collapse


    Black Box Explains...SCSI Ultra2 and LVD (Low-Voltage Differential).

    Small Computer Systems Interface (SCSI), pronounced “scuzzy,” has been the dominant technology used to connect computers and high-speed peripherals since the 1980s. SCSI technology is constantly evolving to accommodate increased... more/see it nowbandwidth needs. One of the more recent developments is Ultra2 SCSI.

    Because Ultra2 SCSI is backward compatible, it works with all legacy equipment. Ultra2 doubles the possible bandwidth on the bus from 40 to 80 MBps! Just as importantly, Ultra2 supports distances up to 12 meters (39.3 ft.) for a multiple-device configuration. Ultra2 uses Low-voltage Differential (LVD) techniques to transfer data at faster rates with fewer errors. Don’t confuse Ultra2 with LVD. Ultra2 is a data-transfer method; LVD is the signaling technique used to transfer the data.

    Cables are very important when designing or upgrading a system to take advantage of Ultra2 SCSI. Cables and connectors must be of high quality and they should come from a reputable manufacturer to prevent crosstalk and minimize signal radiation. BLACK BOX® Ultra2 LVD cables are constructed of the finest-quality components to provide your system with the maximum protection and highest possible data-transfer rates. collapse


    Black Box Explains...Component video.

    Traditional Composite video standards—NTSC, PAL, or SECAM—combine luminance (brightness), chrominance (color), blanking pulses, sync pulses, and color burst information into a single signal.

    Another video standard—S-Video—separates luminance from chrominance to provide... more/see it nowsome improvement in video quality.

    But there’s a new kind of video called Component video appearing in many high-end video devices such as TVs and DVD players. Component video is an advanced digital format that separates chrominance, luminance, and synchronization into separate signals. It provides images with higher resolution and better color quality than either traditional Composite video or S-Video. There are two kinds of Component video: Y-Cb-Cr and Y-Pb-Pr. Y-Cb-Cr is often used by high-end DVD players. HDTV decoders typically use the Y-Pb-Pr Component video signal.

    Many of today’s high-end video devices such as plasma televisions and DVD players actually have three sets of video connectors: Composite, S-Video, and Component. The easiest way to improve picture quality on your high-end TV is to simply connect it using the Component video connectors rather than the Composite or S-Video connectors. Using the Component video connection enables your TV to make use of the full range of video signals provided by your DVD player or cable box, giving you a sharper image and truer colors.

    To use the Component video built into your video devices, all you need is the right cable. A Component video cable has three color-coded BNC connections at each end. For best image quality, choose a high-quality cable with adequate shielding and gold-plated connectors. collapse


    Black Box Explains...USB 2.0 and USB OTG.

    The Universal Serial Bus (USB) hardware (plug-and-play) standard makes connecting peripherals to your computer easy.

    USB 1.1, introduced in 1995, is the original USB standard. It has two data rates:... more/see it now12 Mbps for devices such as disk drives that need high-speed throughput and 1.5 Mbps for devices such as joysticks that need much lower bandwidth.

    In 2002, a newer specification, USB 2.0, or Hi-Speed USB 2.0, gained wide acceptance in the industry. This version is both forward- and backward-compatible with USB 1.1. It increases the speed of the peripheral to PC connection from 12 Mbps to 480 Mbps, or 40 times faster than USB 1.1!

    This increase in bandwidth enhances the use of external peripherals that require high throughput, such as CD/DVD burners, scanners, digital cameras, video equipment, and more. USB 2.0 supports demanding applications, such as Web publishing, in which multiple high-speed devices run simultaneously. USB 2.0 also supports Windows® XP through a Windows update.

    An even newer USB standard, USB On-The-Go (OTG), is also in development. USB OTG enables devices other than a PC to act as a host. It enables portable equipment—such as PDAs, cell phones, digital cameras, and digital music players—to connect to each other without the need for a PC host.

    USB 2.0 specifies three types of connectors: the A connector, the B connector, and the Mini B connector. A fourth type of connector, the Mini A (used for smaller peripherals such as mobile phones), was developed as part of the USB OTG specification. collapse


    Black Box Explains... Standard and ThinNet Ethernet cabling.

    The Ethernet standard supports 10-, 100-, and 1000-Mbps speeds. It supports both half- and full-duplex configurations over twisted-pair and fiber cable, as well as half-duplex over coax cable.

    However, the Thick... more/see it nowand ThinNet Ethernet standards support only 10-Mbps speeds.

    Standard (Thick) Ethernet (10BASE5)
    • Uses “Thick” coax cable with N-type connectors for a backbone and a transceiver cable with 15-pin connectors from the transceiver to the network interface card.
    • The maximum number of segments is five, but only three can have computers attached. The others are for network extension.
    • The maximum length of one segment is 500 meters.
    • The maximum total length of all segments is 2500 meters.
    • The maximum length of one transceiver cable is 50 meters.
    • The minimum distance between transceivers is 2.5 meters.
    • No more than 100 transceiver connections per segment are allowed. A repeater counts as a station for both segments.

    Thin Ethernet (ThinNet) (10BASE2)
    • Uses “Thin” coax cable (RG-58A/U or RG-58C/U).
    • The maximum length of one segment is 185 meters.
    • The maximum number of segments is five.
    • The maximum total length of all segments is 925 meters.
    • The minimum distance between T-connectors is 0.5 meters.
    • No more than 30 connections per segment are allowed.
    • T-connectors must be plugged directly into each device. collapse


    Black Box Explains...Advantages of fiber optic line drivers.

    Fiber optic line drivers are much better for communications than copper-wire alternatives because they offer three main advantages: superior conductivity, freedom from interference, and security.

    Superior conductivity for increased performance
    The glass... more/see it nowcore of a fiber optic cable is an excellent signal conductor. With proper splices and terminations, fiber cable yields very low signal loss and can easily support data rates of 100 Mbps or more.

    Immunity to electrical interference
    Because fiber optic line drivers use a nonmetallic conductor, they don’t pick up or emit electromagnetic or radio-frequency interference (EMI/RFI). Crosstalk (interference from an adjacent communication channel) is also eliminated, which increases transmission quality.

    Signals transmitted via fiber optic line drivers aren’t susceptible to any form of external frequency-related interference. That makes fiber connections completely immune to damaging power surges, signal distortions from nearby lightning strikes, and high-voltage interference. Because fiber cable doesn’t conduct electricity, it can’t create electrical problems in your equipment.

    Signal security
    Electronic eavesdropping requires the ability to intercept and monitor the electromagnetic frequencies of signals traveling over a copper data wire. Fiber optic line drivers use a light-based transmission medium, so they’re completely immune to electronic bugging. collapse


    Black Box Explains...How MicroRACK Cards fit together.

    Slide a function card into the front of the rack. Then slide a connector card in from the back. The rest is simple. Just press the cards together firmly inside... more/see it nowthe rack to seat the connectors.

    Changing systems? It’s easy to change to a different connector card. Just contact us, and we’ll find the right connection for you.

    Add a hot-swappable power supply (AC for normal operation, VDC for battery-powered sites), and you’re up and running. collapse


    Black Box Explains... Baseband, broadband, and carrierband transmissions.

    Depending on the environment and how the electrical signal is sent over the cable, coax can be used for three types of transmissions.

    Baseband transmissions use the entire communication channel capacity... more/see it nowto transmit a single data signal. Many LANs employ Thin coax for baseband signaling.

    Broadband transmissions use different frequencies to carry several analog signals simultaneously. Each signal can for be a different type of information—data, voice, even video. Broadband transmissions over coax employ either one or two cables. With single-cable coax wiring, frequencies are split into individual channels for each station; some channels are allocated for bidirectional communication. Dual-cable coax wiring uses one cable for sending and one cable for receiving data, each with multiple channels. Broadband transmissions are ideal for long distances. Thick coax is often used for broadband transmissions.

    Unlike broadband transmissions, carrierband transmissions can only use one information channel. Carrierband is best suited for the horizontal subsystems (subnetworks) in industrial settings. Many LANs use Thin coax for carrierband signaling. collapse

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