Sea change or sea of change?

Feb. 1, 2013
Somewhere along the line I was taught that no matter what corporate managers think they're doing (i.e. managing people, managing processes, managing technology) ...

From the February, 2013 Issue of Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine

Somewhere along the line I was taught that no matter what corporate managers think they're doing (i.e. managing people, managing processes, managing technology), what they're really doing (and in fact, what we're all doing), is managing change. On many occasions I have remembered that pearl of wisdom when it has shown itself to be true.

But how does such a belief apply to those responsible for managing communication networks' physical-layer infrastructures? As many of you recently, collectively told us through your participation in a survey we conducted, the “managing change” concept may be more true in our industry than in many places.

Some of you may remember completing a survey we sent out to our subscribers in December, with specific, pointed questions asked of those of you who manage cabling systems for end-user organizations.

The overall results are interesting, I believe, and I'd like to summarize a few data points we accumulated from managers of cabling systems in end-user organizations. For connection speeds in these networks' horizontal (to-the-workstation) runs, 100-Mbit/sec and 1-Gbit/sec dominate. To support these speeds, Category 5e and Category 6 are the most popular cabling performance levels currently in place. But what caught my eye was the greater-than-expected presence of singlemode optical fiber in enterprise horizontals. Specifically, among those of you who completed the survey, one in five told us that you have some singlemode in the horizontal. Admittedly, we did not probe any more deeply than we felt we could, given the number of questions we were already asking you to answer. So I don't have deep insight into the reason(s) for singlemode's presence. It could be distance, plain and simple.

But another data point from these users shows that just about half are planning to increase the speed of their horizontal connections within the next 18 months. And of those with such plans, only 20 percent (also, coincidentally, one in five) say they know for sure they won't need to upgrade their cabling in order to accommodate that speed increase.

So are we experiencing a sea change, with singlemode fiber in place and ready to take on next-generation speeds or applications, like particularly passive optical LANs? Or are we in a sea of change, where users will be upgrading to Cat 6/6A, or multimode fiber to accommodate higher speeds? I don't have the answer, but believe me, I'll be paying attention. ::

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN
Chief Editor
[email protected]

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