Your Network May Be Aging Faster than You Are: How to Keep Your Backbone Strong

By: Susan Larson, Marketing Communications Manager

Doctor operating CT scanner in hospitalConfession: I have a bad back. At the ripe old age of 41, I have a degenerated disc in my lower back that causes some really annoying pain anytime it rains or, to be honest, when I dance too much at a wedding.

Part of my treatment involves getting periodic X-rays to assess the dysfunctional disc and make sure it’s not getting worse. Every year, I make an appointment with my Orthopedist. The appointment starts with the X-Ray. After that, I walk to the other side of the building to meet with the doctor and review my X-rays. Continue reading

An Inadvertent Crash Course in PoE: The Top 4 Things You Need to Know

training roomAs I sat down to write this month’s post about Power over Ethernet, my mind immediately flashed back to my Berk-Tek job interview. Since it was a marketing position, my manager wisely constructed the interview process to include the creation of a mock marketing plan, and – gulp – a marketing presentation. Gotta prove you can do the job, right?

Continue reading

Balancing Your Migration Plan Budget (Part 1)

By: Teresa Hoffman, Fiber Optic Product Business Manager

Hardware and Codes

Let’s face it. Data center upgrades are expensive and risky. There are countless factors to consider, and more than a few mildly terrifying things that go sideways if you make the wrong move. In some ways, you have to be a fortune-teller. You need to be sure that the infrastructure you install will be able to support not only current needs, but also your next generation of equipment and ever-increasing bandwidth requirements. The last thing you want to do is install a cabling plant today that you’ll have to rip out and reinstall three years from now.

I’m not going to attempt to cover all of factors that play into a data center upgrade. There are entire books, websites and even college courses devoted to that. But if we boil it all down, we’re really talking about two main considerations – budget and performance.

In the data center world, there’s more than one type of budget to consider.

Financial budget

Of course, there’s always a financial budget to keep in mind. We all want to have “the best” system/product/solution, but financial realities demand that we carefully examine what we need, prioritize the requirements, and choose solutions that provide the best return on our investment.

For example, looking just at cabling, traditional cable plants have used OM3 multimode fiber. Going to OM4 – or OM4+ – is more of an investment, but worth it because the added bandwidth might be needed to overcome insertion loss. Another example is single-mode vs. multimode. Single-mode is the least expensive cable, but with higher connectivity and optics costs, single-mode as a solution can be up to three times more expensive than multi-mode.

Link budget

Financials are important. But they’re not the only budget you need to think about your migration path. What good is saving money on a system that doesn’t work? It’s critical to understand whether or not your cabling will support your protocol. To do that, you need to know your link budget – or power budget – and understand what you can do to maximize it.

In theory this is simple. Your system either works or it doesn’t, right? Not exactly. With the number of PMD options constantly increasing, it’s get difficult to keep track of all of the variables.  A PMD is the Physical Media Dependent form factor for the transceiver connection.  Each PMD has a set of conditions – fiber type, connector type, bandwidth support and cabling insertion loss – that are needed in order for it to operate correctly.

IEEE defines worst case conditions to ensure interoperability, but these limits can be very restrictive. As an alternative, many network managers take advantage of engineered links to improve performance.  An engineered link is one where one or more performance attributes are specified to be better than the standard. The better performance can come from any number of different attributes. It could be from higher bandwidth fiber, or lower loss connectivity, or better performing transmitters and receivers. With the number of potential options available, the number of possible solutions seems infinite.

So now that you’ve factored in all of your financial and link loss requirements, how do you go about determining the best migration plan – one that balances your budget with your desired network performance objectives? Part 2 of this series will discuss several approaches to this challenge.

History Interrupted: How a Bad Network Ruined the Most Epic Super Bowl Ever

By: Susan Larson, Marketing Communications Manager

superbowlViewed by more than 111 million people, Super Bowl LI was a definitely a game for the history books. Thirty NFL records were broken or matched. It was the first Super Bowl game to go into overtime. The Patriots broke the record for overcoming the biggest deficit to win. Tom Brady was the first quarterback to get five Super Bowl wins and four MVP titles. And, last but not least – the biggest news in my corner of the world – it was the first time my son was allowed to stay up for an entire Super Bowl game.

He was beyond ecstatic. Finally, he would get to rehash the whole game with his buddies at school, reliving every single play in excited, excruciating detail, as only 11-year-old boys do. It was a rite of passage for him.

But it didn’t quite end the way he had hoped it would. Continue reading

Who knew network infrastructure could be this exciting!?

By: Susan Larson

Last year, after attending my first-ever BISCI conference, I wrote a post about how blown away I was by…well, by everything really: the technology, the advancements, the collaboration between some of the smartest folks I’d ever encountered.

I went into that event having no idea what to expect. I had just started in the ICT industry a few months prior, and knew relatively little about what I was there to speak about, sell, and learn. (Side note: I still can’t believe they let me work our booth and talk to potential customers. Fake it till you make it, right?)

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Marketing vs. Engineering: A Love-Hate Relationship?

Inside the walls of Berk-Tek, we make a lot of jokes about the age-old tug-of-war between Marketing and Engineering. The Creatives vs. The Scientists. The Dreamers vs. The Pragmatists.

My guess is that, if you work anywhere remotely near the IT world, it’s the same in your organization. I suspect that our organizations are not unique in this respect. There are countless articles, blog posts, slide decks, and even cartoons (who doesn’t love Dilbert) online that talk about the Marketing vs. Engineering, or Marketing vs. IT, dynamic. Continue reading