Editor's Picks

March 1, 2017

Viavi Solutions introduces CERTiFi cloud-based test and certification project management platform

Viavi Solutions announced CERTiFi, which it described as a cloud-based system enabling enterprise cabling contractors to manage test and certification projects across increasingly distributed workforces with complex specifications. “CERTiFi, powered by Viavi’s StrataSync cloud management platform for network service providers, delivers a solution proven in large carrier networks that has been adapted for enterprise cabling contractors,” the company said.

Describing the industry dynamics that gave rise to CERTiFi’s introduction, Viavi Solutions said, “Enterprises are installing, expanding and upgrading data centers and networks to address a continuing acceleration in bandwidth use. According to Viavi’s State of the Network study, 48 percent of respondents expect bandwidth to double between 2016 and 2017. This trend is driving growth in the breadth and complexity of networks, technician workloads, and outsourcing to contractors. Contractors need an efficient way to manage projects across their technician base to improve accuracy and speed of certification.

“CERTiFi enhances overall project workflows by syncing test and certification instruments - such as the popular and proven Certifier40G and SmartClass Fiber OLTS-85P - and managing them via a centralized cloud-based system,” Viavi stated. “From that vantage point, an administrator can create and distribute project designs, assign projects to team members, preload test instruments with tasks and required test criteria, and assimilate, analyze and share test results in real time. With CERTiFi, team members establish alignment at every stage of their projects - from creating design requirements and assigning tasks, to performing tests and analyzing project metrics, which can significantly reduce the time, cost and errors associated with offline communications.”

The company added that a major benefit and differentiator of CERTiFi “is the breadth of options for user interfaces: from web-based, to mobile app, to on-instrument UI. These interfaces are part of Viavi’s workflow design to maximize efficiency. Field managers are constantly on the go, managing multiple technicians in different locations with limited time. Management responsibilities like gathering results from instruments and sending them back to the main office or preparing tasks for the next day typically end up happening in the off-hours, when everyone else has clocked out.”

Hand-bendable Universal Snake Tray features built-in mounting rings

As demoed at Snake Tray’s exhibitor booth at the annual BICSI Winter exhibition, the company says its Universal Snake Tray “is the latest advancement in cable management that is hand-bendable and can be mounted overhead or on walls with built-in mounting rings.”

Made in the USA, the Universal Snake Tray protects and secures both fiber and copper cables with its 360-degree design. The patented hand-bendable system installs with no onsite fabrication required, adds the company.

The tray maintains the proper cabling bend radius for optimal system performance via built-in mounting rings and can be attached either overhead or on a wall. Technicians can load cables easily from the side of the trays, which nest together for low-cost shipping and material handling.

SEL launches new fusion splicer, plus high-density data center module

Sumitomo Electric Lightwave (SEL) launched a pair of new products at the 2017 BICSI Winter exhibition.

Firstly, as the latest addition to the company’s Quantum Fusion Splicer line, the Q102-CA core alignment fusion splicer features a five-second splice time. Patented dual independent ovens and a new “smartphone-like” user interface are key features of the new splicer. The Q102-CA was demonstrated during BICSI exhibition hours.

Also at the show, as a complement to its PrecisionFlex Patch Panel portfolio, SEL released its 864F Field Transition Module for high density data center applications. The company claims the new transition module “achieves the highest density of LC connections per rack in the industry-288 LC connections per 2 rack unit.”

D-Tools showcases latest System Integrator software platform

D-Tools demonstrated the latest version of its data-driven system integration software platform at the 2017 BICSI Winter exhibition. Emphasizing greater productivity and workflow efficiency for the ICT industry professional, the newest version of D-Tools’ award-winning System Integrator software platform, SI 2016, was showcased at the company’s BICSI exhibitor booth.

The company says SI 2016 primarily features third-party integrations that improve and enhance workflow operations. Available now, as stated by a product press release, “SI 2016 adds valuable productivity features and enhancements that enable commercial and residential AV system integrators to both maximize the efficiency of their business processes and increase profitability, while simultaneously reducing overhead.”

“For nearly 20 years, the D-Tools System Integrator (SI) software platform has helped to increase ICT productivity and efficiency by bringing together estimation, system design, and project management into a single data-driven process,” notes the release.

D-Tools adds that the software upgrade aims to more completely deliver an “end-to-end solution that enables data to flow seamlessly throughout the project lifecycle - from initial client contact through the ongoing service relationship [which includes] a comprehensive library of manufacturer products.”

FSR brings large-format wall boxes, office-space cable management to BICSI

FSR exhibited select products at the 2017 BICSI Winter exhibition. The following products were highlighted by FSR in the BICSI exhibit hall.

FSR’s PWB-FR-450, a larger format wall box, provides multiple infrastructure mounting solutions for larger interfaces or equipment behind a display, or in other custom applications. Fire resistive material is integrated within the door assembly providing 1 hour of protection. The 14-gauge steel back box easily installs between wood or steel studs, leaving proper spacing for the door to mount flush with the wall’s surface. Connections and cables are hidden behind the cover for a neat, elegant look. Three pre-wired integrated AC outlets aid ease-of-installation. Internal compartments have a three-fourths-inch knockout and concentric knockout that goes up to 1.5 inches in the top and bottom for cable/conduit entry. A two-part vented cover provides convection cooling for internal components. One or all of the internal brackets can be removed for custom configurations. This box has also been designed to accommodate Crestron’s larger DM-RMC-4K-SCALER-C 4K scaler/room receiver. Hardware is included.

FSR’s WS-1 wiring solution makes quick, neat work of storing extra cable length under tables, behind desks, in podiums and credenzas. With its concentric dual coil design and variety of attachment points, multiple cables can be wrapped neatly in their own cable path, reducing cross cable interference. The unit helps prevent cables from being damaged and provides tangle-free cable management. It comes with pre-drilled mounting holes and includes mounting screws and tie wraps. Slots and emboss areas are provided to easily secure cabling.

Belden ups ante on digital building, data center connectivity

Belden offered a hands-on, up-close look at connectivity solutions that can be used across the enterprise at the 2017 BICSI Winter exhibition. To give information and communication technology (ICT) professionals a better understanding of how connectivity can be applied throughout an organization, Belden’s booth featured two different areas that showcased enterprise solutions.

The digital building area of the booth gave visitors a close-up look at an open 2-post rack utilizing Belden’s FiberExpress Enterprise Closet X patch panel solution, plus its HD WiFi patching products, as well as a passive optical LAN setup and an HDBaseT cable solution.

The digital building area also housed field-termination demonstrations of Belden’s REVConnect, its new connectivity system used for all Category 5e, 6 and 6A UTP and STP cables; and its FiberExpress fusion connectors, which combine the benefits of fusion splicing with the simplicity of field-installable connectors. A mock drop-down ceiling with a ceiling zone box and a wireless access point for the emerging digital ceiling was also featured.

Separately, the booth’s data center area gave visitors a close-up look at the following products: three cabinets representing the Belden XHM and XHS series; a core router cabinet, server cabinet and the company’s Open Bridge Rack; and a wall-mount box and in-wall box for multi-dwelling unit (MDU) applications.

Oberon’s latest low-profile ceiling mounts for WiFi access points are vendor-neutral

Among its new products for 2017, Oberon, a manufacturer of WiFi infrastructure solutions, highlighted at the annual BICSI Winter exhibition a new recessed mount designed to offer an aesthetic enclosure for most vendors’ wireless access points. Oberon’s model 1042-FL is an ultra-low-profile recess ceiling mount that recesses into hard-lid ceilings much like a recessed lighting fixture.

The unit’s low-profile, white, non-metallic cover snaps into place without any tools required. The cover is virtually transparent to wireless signals, and blends in with most ceilings. The 1042-FL is UL listed. Oberon notes that its 1042 series mounts “are a simple way to install wireless access points into hard ceilings, providing for an aesthetic, professional installation.”

The series features models “with a variety of trims, including many access-point-specific options,” adds the company.

Platinum Tools launches ezEX-RJ45 termination system, modular crimper

Platinum Tools, a specialist in products for the preparation, installation, hand termination and testing of wire and cable, announced the launch of its ezEX-RJ45 termination system at the 2017 BICSI Winter exhibition.

“In today’s networks, twisted pair cables are demanding more speed and bandwidth,” observes John Phillips, Platinum Tools, Inc. product manager. “To help meet these requirements, Cat5e/6/6A cables have increased in size. Both the outer diameter of the cable and the insulation diameter of the conductors are larger and vary by manufacturer, making cable and connector compatibility a challenge. Platinum Tools' new patented ezEX-RJ45 termination system is the solution, providing greater cable-to-connector compatibility to meet higher performance demands.”

The patented EXO Crimp Frame is a RJ45 crimp tool that can terminate multiple sizes of cables and conductors. The crimp frame highlights two interchangeable dies that work with the company’s EZ-RJ45 and ezEX-RJ45 connectors. The tool design allows for future upgrades by purchasing a new die. The new ezEX-RJ45 feed-through connectors with staggered channels matched with the EXO crimp frame + EXO-EX die are specifically designed to crimp and flush-trim the protruding conductors in a single operation. This patented new termination system couples two concurrently developed and matched solutions for terminating larger cables, notes the company.

Further, the EXO crimp frame features tool-less replacement of dies to minimize downtime due to damaged or worn dies. Interchangeable and ambidextrous dies for left- and right-handed operation ensure clean and precise flush-cut connectors. The connector tab locks into the die port for one-handed operation and ensures that the connector is locked in place for proper crimping. The tool’s patented push-button gun-style lock makes for easy storage, and the precisely aligned contact drivers provide reliable and repeatable crimping.

“The EZ-RJ45 die gives you the ability to terminate EZ-RJ45 connectors, and the EXO-EX die terminates the new and improved ezEX-RJ45 connectors,” Phillips continued. “The ezEX-RJ45 connectors are designed for larger cables and conductors with a Hi-Lo stagger of conductors, one piece/pass through, and no bars or liners resulting in high performance termination. Current modular connectors for larger diameter cables require multiple pieces that can get lost, are difficult to prep, and are very difficult to verify wiring sequence which leads to improper terminations and scrap. The ezEX-RJ45 connector and EXO crimp frame and EXO-EX die system minimize the cost of operation for the installer by eliminating mistakes in crimping and downtime.”

‘Neural network’ software enables AI for smart consumer products including drones, self-driving cars

Boston-based Neurala, the software company known for inventing “The Neurala Brain,” a deep learning neural networks platform that the company says makes smart products like toys, cameras and self-driving cars “more autonomous, interactive and useful,” recently announced the closing of a $14 million series A funding round led by Pelion Venture Partners.

“Neurala pioneered the development of deep learning neural network software for NASA to use in planetary exploration, where processing power, battery life and communications are limited,” expressed a company statement. “Instead of designing deep learning neural networks for super computers, as other companies do, The Neurala Brain was designed to work where the decisions need to be made. Today, Neurala has customers deploying a broad range of applications, including autonomous drones and cars. Customers include Teal Drones, Parrot and multiple members of the Fortune Global 500. Neurala is currently working with Motorola Solutions on new applications of video, image and audio analytics for public safety.”

Neurala says it will use the new capital investment “to accelerate servicing of its rapidly increasing customer demand, as well as to revolutionize additional application areas by adding built-in intelligence and autonomous behavior.”

“The Neurala Brain was designed from the beginning to transform industries,” commented Massimiliano “Max” Versace, co-founder and CEO of Neurala. “Bio-inspired brainpower can be built right into drones, cars, toys, cameras, and other devices found in the home so that they can learn, see and act. This is essential for applications like drones and self-driving cars, where reaction time is critical and where you can’t always get fast network access. It’s also an endearing capability when built into toys that recognize their young owners by sight and give them a smile without communicating with a server.”

Neurala says its neural network software “uses a bio-inspired approach to mimic the way the human brain learns and analyzes its environment. This software enables a variety of smart products - from self-driving cars and industrial drones to toys, consumer electronics and smart cameras - to learn, adapt and interact in real time. With The Neurala Brain, toys can learn to identify their owners, security cameras can identify specific threats, drones can ‘learn’ how to diagnose problems at the tops of cell towers, saving humans considerable danger and drudgery, and self-driving cars can be safer and learn to avoid obstacles.”

Pearson Technologies releases Volume 10 of Professional Fiber Optic Installation manual

Pearson Technologies Inc. recently published Professional Fiber Optic Installation, v10. The book is available via Amazon. Author Eric Pearson explains: “Depending on one’s goals, v10 is a guidebook for becoming a professional installer, a training and reference manual for trainers and field supervisors, a manual for field installers, a study guide for passing basic and advanced certification examinations from the Fiber Optic Association [FOA], and an educational book for those interested in fiber-optic communications.”

The information in Volume 10 of Professional Fiber Optic Installation applies to data networks, data centers, telephone networks, fiber-to-the-home networks, optical LANs, fiber-to-the-antenna, distributed antenna systems, and CATV systems.

The 35-chapter, 496-page manual presents the concepts, numbers, product advantages, and installation and testing procedures required to achieve and verify the five goals of installation, which are: 1) low cost, 2) lowest possible optical power loss, 3) low reflectance, 4) short installation time, and 5) high reliability.

Chapters 1 through 9 detail essential information on available products, their most-important performance parameters, and advantages of product types. “This information sensitizes the installer to the capabilities and limitations of the product he installs,” Eric Pearson notes. “With this sensitivity, the installer understands how his actions influence power loss, reflectance, and reliability.”

Chapters 10 through 13 present the principles and methods of installation, through which the installer achieves the five aforementioned goals. Chapters 14 through 20 detail testing and inspection principles and methods, which enable the installer to verify proper and reliable installation. Chapters 21 through 28 provide detailed, cookbook-like instructions for performing installation, inspection, and testing activities. Pearson adds, “By following the instructions in these chapters, the installer develops 38 critical skills and abilities essential to achieving the five goals of the professional installer.”

Chapters 29 through 35 focus information in previous chapters on seven applications: outside plant, fiber-to-the-antenna, distributed antenna systems, fiber-to-the-home (PON), data centers, optical LANs, and fiber characterization.

“Chapters 1 through 20 enable installers to pass the FOA CFOT basic certification examination,” Eric Pearson says. “Chapters 10 through 17 and 29 through 35 enable installers to pass 10 of the FOA advanced certification [CFOS] examinations.”

Raritan, Legrand unveil intelligent cabinet concept at Gartner data center conference

At the Gartner Data Center, Infrastructure, and Operations Management Conference held in December, Raritan, in collaboration with Legrand’s Data Communications division, unveiled a working model of the Legrand Intelligent Cabinet Concept. Raritan is a Legrand brand. The focus of the Intelligent Cabinet Concept model is to gather input from customers on their IT infrastructure needs for remote and distributed locations. According to a press release, “The working model of the Intelligent Cabinet is designed to monitor and manage, from anywhere, all the IT and integrated infrastructure elements secured in the cabinet, thereby streamlining work, cutting costs, and shifting the focus from managing many elements to managing only one element-the cabinet.”

The companies expect that “the paradigm shift to the cabinet or rack as the standard IT unit to manage is expected to make it easier for those centrally located IT and data center professionals responsible for rollouts and uptime in remote locations. It also will help reduce OPEX and CAPEX costs,” added the press release. “The unique architecture of the modular cabinet eliminates redundancy-and related costs-so that the cabinet providing intelligence and more capabilities is expected to cost no more than the cabinet components purchased separately. Deployment and installation time is expected to be in weeks instead of months because all the cabinet components are pre-integrated and -tested.”

Raritan and Legrand contend that recently renewed interest in remote IT sites, and in containerized cabinets and micro data centers, is being driven by the Internet of Things (IoT) and other trends requiring real-time sensor data gathering and analytics crunching to take place at the network edge and in remote offices and branch offices.

“The challenge is to deploy and manage compute resources-servers, storage, switches, and converged equipment-and all the supporting infrastructure elements for power, networking, security, and monitoring at these remote locations where IT support professionals are not typically located,” says Henry Hsu, vice president of product management and marketing at Raritan. “Legrand is creating the Intelligent Cabinet for an easier, more responsive and cost-effective way to support remote sites, and to enable new compute models at the edge. We are looking forward to sharing the working Intelligent Cabinet concept and gathering feedback from customers ranging from branch offices to edge data centers to colos.”

Legrand’s Intelligent Cabinet leverages the company’s data center expertise in cabinet housing of all sizes, intelligent power distribution, power and environmental monitoring, DCIM (data center infrastructure management), cabling, networking, and remote “lights-out” data center management. A patent-pending embedded controller provides the intelligence to the Legrand Cabinet. The cabinet has its own IP address, and both a remote and cabinet-door touchscreen user interface to manage all tasks-including security authentication and door-lock release to access the inside of the cabinet, tracking IT and infrastructure assets in the cabinet, and providing updates on the environment’s health, energy usage and potential issues.

Corning acquires harsh-environment connectivity provider Stran Technologies

Corning Incorporated recently acquired Stran Technologies, a United States-based manufacturer of harsh-environment and tactical interconnect products and services. Stran serves the military/aerospace and oil/gas industries. Corning did not disclose terms of the deal, but said it acquired full ownership of Stran.

“As an OEM designer and manufacturer of rugged fiber-optic and hybrid fiber/copper connectivity solutions, Stran Technologies’ products are qualified and specified for use on mission-critical infrastructure,” Corning said when announcing the acquisition. “The Stran team provides exceptional engineering, installation, and maintenance services, and also brings design and manufacturing expertise that will allow Corning to reach new customers.”

Clark S. Kinlin, executive vice president, Corning Optical Communications, commented, “The acquisition of Stran Technologies enhances Corning’s market access to military and aerospace, and oil and gas segments through the addition of harsh environment optical and power connectors and cable assemblies. It also augments our innovation product and technology portfolios, strengthening our ability to deliver new integrated solutions to network operators worldwide.”

Jim Stranberg, founder and chief executive officer of Stran Technologies, added, “We are pleased to join forces with Corning, a true industry leader who shares our commitment to providing the highest-quality, most-innovative, and best-in-class connectivity solutions to our customers. The combined resources that Corning and Stran can together provide will greatly strengthen our ability to support customers’ technical and business requirements, and provide excellent opportunities for our people.”

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