New Year, New Decade… and Another Exciting BICSI Conference

Are you heading to Tampa next week for the 2020 BICSI Winter Conference & Exhibition? If so, congratulations to all my Northern-half-of-the-country friends who get to escape the deep chill for a few days!

Bicsi GroupIf you’re going, be sure to stop by and visit Berk-Tek Leviton Technologies at booth #737! Not only are we a great-looking group of folks (I mean, come on, look at those smiling faces!) , but we’ll be showcasing lots of new products and solutions, like Berk-Tek’s new line of extended PoE solutions, an all-new Cat 6A cable, and Leviton’s new Wireless Structured Media Center.

If you’re attending the full conference, you should also check out the presentations being given by some of our experts:

The Key to 400G: Technology, Infrastructure and Design for Making 400 Gb/s Ethernet a Reality
Presenter: Gary Bernstein, Leviton
It was just last year that 100 Gb/s was next-gen, and 400 Gb/s was theory. As 2020 gets started, 400 Gb/s is already a reality. It is enabling innovation and efficiencies with data center interconnects, core infrastructure, and research & education networks with enormous data loads. Learn how more cloud service providers and hyperscale data centers will migrate to 200 and 400 Gb/s to support the growing 50 and 100 Gb/s server speeds.
Tuesday, Feb 11 | 2:45 – 3:45pm, Ballroom B (Level 1)

Single-Mode Fiber: The Perfect Fit for the Evolving Enterprise
Presenters: Sean McCloud, Leviton & Todd Harpel, Berk-Tek
The demands of new and emerging technologies – 5G, BIoT, Wi-Fi 6 and DAS – present both opportunities and challenges for enterprise fiber networks. While legacy applications for single-mode fiber centered on service provider, data center and large campus applications, several factors have made an OS2 cabling infrastructure a recommended enterprise network solution. Increasing data demands, market shifts and increasing contractor capabilities are making single-mode in the enterprise the logical next step.
Wed, Feb 12 | 10:30 – 11:30 am, Ballroom A (Level 1)

Hope to see you there!

Giving Back for Good

People amaze me. I’m blessed to be surrounded by a village that really, truly cares about the people around them. Family members, friends, and co-workers alike continue to astound me with their tireless efforts to give back, lift others up, and help those less fortunate.

This time of year is especially filled with giving back. I could write an entire novel about the good deeds doled out by my fellow Berk-Tek employees. But for now, I’d like to just celebrate two recent accomplishments. And I really do mean accomplishments; pulling off these massive acts of goodness is no small task.

PFT Eye Drop 2019 - 2This first act quite literally went to new heights. If you’ve ever met former Berk-Tek President Paul Trunk, you know he doesn’t do anything halfway, and this was no exception. Earlier this month, Paul raised more than $11,000 for the VisionCorps Eye Drop 2019 fundraiser.

Paul, along with other participants, exceeded his fundraising goal in exchange for an opportunity to rappel down the 10-story Holiday Inn overlooking downtown Lancaster. In all, the “eye droppers” raised more than $167,000 that will go towards providing preventative, rehabilitative and employment opportunities to blind and visually impaired individuals.

Clothing Drive6Another Berk-Tek employee who gave big this season was Kelly McGinn. Kelly is a member of this year’s Core Class at Leadership Lancaster . In the course of just two weeks, Kelly collected and sorted an entire SUV-full of gently used work apparel to donate to local clothing banks. Because of her efforts, hundreds of people joining or reentering the workforce will have access to no-cost professional clothing to help jump-start their careers.

It’s people like Kelly and Paul, and all the other generous souls both at Berk-Tek and in our greater community, who really encompass what this season is about.

Wishing you all a peaceful and happy holiday season!

It’s an Honor Being Nominated…

… but it’s even better when you win!

va-winner-fn-4c-v1-hi-resWe’re beyond excited to announce our uLANTM solution was recently awarded a Vision Award from!

What is the uLAN, you ask?

The uLAN is an emerging ecosystem of utility applications (lighting, security, AV, HVAC, etc.) that traditionally haven’t been IP-enabled, but are now being connected and powered by the IP network.

Earlier this year, together with Cree Lighting and Transition Networks, Berk-Tek launched the first complete solution for connecting and powering the smart building’s uLAN. This coalition collectively offers the smart building’s nervous system: Cree’s SmartCast® Intelligence Platform is the brain, Transition Network’s PoE switch technology is the muscle, and Berk-Tek’s cabling, along with Leviton’s connectivity solutions are the nerves.

The Vision Awards recognize best-in-class products, systems and technologies in 10 different facilities management categories, judged by an independent panel of facilities executives. The uLAN won in the Smart Buildings/IoT/Software category.

This award is especially sweet.

We’re especially proud of this award because it’s a nod to the significance that cabling infrastructure plays in the smart building. The Vision Awards honor innovation and excellence in products that contribute to the efficient and profitable operations and management of institutional and commercial buildings. That’s not typically a sandbox that cabling plays in. But with increasing IP-enabled system convergence, that’s changing.

While the term smart building can mean many things to many people, the essence of a smart building is really about connections. These connections enable building systems to collect data about its occupants and environment, respond automatically to conditions and activities, and communicate with other systems both inside and outside the building.

The effectiveness and overall success of a smart building hinges on its ability to collect, share and analyze data. And it’s pretty awesome to be a part of that!

Read the full press release.

Learn more about the uLAN and our solutions.

Frequently Asked Questions about the uLAN

Part 3 in our 3-part uLAN series

520132106-stack-of-game-cards-with-question-mark_FAQAs I mentioned in the first and second posts of this series, Berk-Tek hosted a webinar last month, where we introduced our uLAN solution for making the smart building simple.

We had a lot of interested viewers who asked some pretty great questions. The answers to those questions are below…

Can I use regular Cat 5e for smart lighting?

It’s not recommended. Even though your lighting doesn’t require a high-speed data connection, the PoE becomes a challenge. Remember that Cat 5e came about in the 1990’s, before PoE was even a thing. And when the first standard was passed, PoE allowed for 15W. Now with 802.3bt, we’re up to 90W. Most Cat 5e cables aren’t built to hold up to all that power and heat rise. That’s why we recommend – if you’re going Cat 5e – to go with a cable like LANmark-IP that’s specially designed to get the heat out.

Can the whole system operate under Cat 6 cabling?

Yes, Cat 6 will work, but it’s a matter of how well it works.  If large bundles will be the norm (>92 cables), and most will be energized with PoE, you need to consider the heat rise.  LANmark-IP is a 1Gbps cable with 22AWG conductors, which Berk-Tek has designed to support cable bundles of up to 720 cables with each cable energized to 100W.  For 10X the bandwidth for less than 2X the price, you could move to LANmark-XTP. It’s a 10Gbps cable with a discontinuous shield, so it doesn’t need to be grounded (UTP), and the shield acts as heat sync to efficiently dissipate heat. This cable will also support max bundles of 720 cables each with 100W.

Has the API been scanned through GSA IT (gov)?

(Author’s note: this question is asking about the open API technology available with Cree’s SmartCast software)

SmartCast (both PoE and wireless) is an approved technology, but IT approval for the API is done through an entirely different channel specific to the government entity. Cree Lighting hasn’t rolled out the API to any federal or state government customers, but would go down the approval path if a specific opportunity arose.  Connected systems (includes API and BACnet integration) have been implemented at a number of major defense suppliers, so Cree went through a rigorous approval process for those partners before anything was allowed to touch their network.

With the Cree system, do I need the SmartCast link to run it?

No. You can connect your system to your IP network, commission it, and run it with automated controls and analytics…without the Smartcast link. What that allows you to do is get your lighting system talking to your other building systems. Your HVAC system, for example: If you want your lighting sensors to tell your HVAC when to turn on and off, you’ll need Smartcast link’s open API to connect the two systems together.

May we use any managed switch?

You need a switch with at least 60W per-port capability to drive the larger light fixtures. We recommended the Transition Networks PoE++ switch because it offers the right balance of cost-effectiveness (25% less expensive than a Tier 1 switch), with PoE performance, tech support, warranty, easy-to-use software, etc.

For more information on the uLAN solution we’re offering in conjunction with Cree Lighting and Transition Networks, check out our resource page.

If you missed the webinar, you can still view the recorded version.

Don’t Take Our Word for It

BerkTek_6878I have a love-hate relationship with business jargon. That’s a lie. It’s a hate-hate relationship. I don’t understand why crossing the threshold of an office building makes people feel like they need to integrate jargon into their vocabulary. Just say what you mean, people. Use regular words and phrases. For example…

  • Let’s put a pin in that. = That idea is ridiculous, and I hope you forget about it before the next time we talk.
  • This idea could really have legs. = That is so far off course, that it might actually work.
  • Start with the low hanging fruit. = Please, please, please give me the easy stuff to do first.
  • Open the kimono. <Author’s note: I actually have no idea what this phrase is supposed to mean in the business world.>

All that ranting aside, there is one little piece of jargon that I’m going to allow for the purposes of this blog post:

  • Don’t take our word for it. = We know you have doubts about what we’re saying. That’s why we went to a third party to verify it for us.

In this industry, there are a lot of claims made – performance, dBs above standard, lifetime guarantees, etc. But how do you know what’s an actual claim and what’s just marketing fluff? (Don’t worry; I’m a marketer, so I’m allowed to use that phrase.) I

For example, when Berk-Tek first launched our Converged Application Score as a whole new way to evaluate a cable’s performance in real-world conditions, there were more than a few nay-sayers. I can’t say that I blamed them. Our product development team knew the score was legit, our TEK Center engineers knew it was legit, and everyone at Berk-Tek knew it to be a science-based way to evaluate cabling solutions. But not everyone in the industry was convinced.

I’m happy to announce that the nay-sayers no longer have to take our word for it, because our CA Score Process was recently third-party Verified by UL.

UL Verification is an objective, science-based assessment that separates fact from fiction. To earn UL Verification, a claim – such as the CA Score Process used by Berk-Tek to test cabling – has to pass extremely rigorous audit process that examines procedural documents, training records, equipment calibration, and system functionality. Click here for more information.

The Top 5 Reasons to Integrate Smart Lighting in the LAN

Berk-Tek recently rolled out a new initiative with Cree, a leading manufacturer of LED and smart lighting solutions, to help our customers better understand smart lighting and how to best integrate it into their IP networks.

LTG-ExtremeNetworks-CorporateCampus-MorrisvilleNC-031414-014Most people we talk to are familiar with smart lighting. They know what it is and the benefits that come with it. They’ve read articles and heard other suppliers talk about lower energy costs, reduced maintenance, and better productivity. But most times, these sources lack details and present only a portion of the big picture.

The most common feedback we get from customers is, “I want to learn more, but I’m not really sure where to start.” Most people are looking for someone to “stitch it all together” for them so they can fully understand WHY and HOW they should integrate smart lighting into the LAN.

Let’s start with the WHY. Below are the top 5 reasons why you should integrate smart lighting into the LAN:

  1. Centralized Control. No more trucking down hallways to go from room to room to adjust your light fixtures. From the comfort of your laptop or other IP device, you can adjust color tuning, max lumen output, the sensor sensitivity to movement, and much more.
  2. PoE. We look at the benefits of PoE first in terms of CAPEX, then in terms of efficiency.

CAPEX of PoE vs AC: Installing a PoE-powered smart lighting system costs about 15-20% less than installing a similar system powered via traditional AC. PoE is less complex, it is less labor, and the labor itself is less expensive per hour (low voltage contractor vs electrician).

Efficiency: A PoE-powered system is relatively efficient when care is taken in selecting the right infrastructure solution. Selecting the right cabling products – those with optimized twist rates and AWG size, and made with premium materials that minimize heat rise – can significantly reduce the losses inherent in a 100m channel.

  1. System Integration. An integrated smart lighting system serves as the communication channel for building automation systems to talk to each other via a common Ethernet language, and without the need to human interaction. This is relevant to a host of building automation systems, including HVAC, access control, security cameras, and more.
  2. LiFi. Light Fidelity (LiFi) is several years off from being adopted in any sort of scale, but it holds promise. LiFi uses light waves to carry digital information and is meant to complement existing WiFi LAN inside your facility. LiFi requires LED lights and they need to be connected to a network. Therefore, installing a smart lighting system integrated into your LAN is preparing your organization for future LiFi capability.
  3. Actionable Analytics. Arguably, one of the greatest benefits of a smart lighting system is the ability to act on the data collected from the sensor network embedded in the lights themselves. In addition to identifying and acting on energy savings, opportunities, you could use sensor data to identify underutilized spaces and reconfigure your layout to maximize the space you have instead of buying or renting space you thought you needed. For example, if your analytics are showing that your space utilization is only 60%, the system can make recommendations on how to relocate personnel to maximize space.

Want to learn more? Register for our upcoming webinar – Realize the Future: How to Integrate Smart Lighting into Your Network – on October 4!

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

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?)

Continue reading

All that data has to go somewhere.

By: Susan Larson, Marketing Communications Manger

All that data has to go somewhere.

ControlPanel_300x180When was the last time you did something that didn’t require an internet connection? Unless you’re living off the grid, chances are you’re connecting to an IP network at least every day, most likely at least every hour, and probably, if I had to venture a guess, almost every minute of your life.

Continue reading