Fluke Networks predicts, analyzes 2017’s biggest trends

Dec. 21, 2016
In LANs, IoT and power will be top issues while in data centers, fiber demand will rule, according to Fluke Networks.

Looking ahead to 2017, the professionals at Fluke Networks opine on what we in the network and cabling systems industries can expect in the year ahead—and how its own testing technologies and platforms fit into the picture.

Here is now Fluke Networks sees 2017 shaping up.

More Power, New Apps in the LAN—A key aspect of the growing number of devices connected to the LAN is the ability to power those devices with evolving PoE technology. With IEEE 802.3bt PoE standards expected to be ratified next year, we will soon be looking at Type 3 PoE at 60W and Type 4 PoE at 90W delivered over all four pairs.

While Cisco’s UPOE already delivers 60W, next year’s ratified PoE standards will open the door for more PoE-enabled devices than ever before. That, combined with power over HDBase-T that delivers up to 100W of DC power in conjunction with video signals, paves the way for PoE LED lighting, LED TVs, digital signage and more.

At the same time, many enterprise businesses will strive to make the most of their installed base to support newer technologies. Approved in September of 2016, the new IEEE 802.3bz standard for 2.5/5GBase-T is targeted for operation over Category 5e and 6 cable, which still accounts for more than 80 percent of the installed base. Primarily targeted to support the latest 802.11ac WiFi applications, these new standards will pave the way next year for more 2.5/5GBase-T products and adoption.

From a testing standpoint, these trends drive the need for both DC loop resistance and DC resistance unbalance testing to ensure proper Ethernet transmission amidst four-pair Type 3 and Type 4 PoE—especially for Gigabit Ethernet and beyond. And those wanting to deploy the latest 802.11ac WiFi over their installed base of Category 5e and 6, there will be the need for testing to the new 2.5/5GBase-T standard in existing facilities since not all Category 5e and 6 cables will necessarily support these speeds.

Thankfully the DSX-5000 CableAnalyzer (with the latest firmware) is ready to make all these tests.

Some New Names in the Data Center—To support the need to access, transmit and store more information than ever before, many enterprise data centers are turning to cloud and colocation facilities with the capacity and services to help them expand with reduced capital expenditure, while others are upgrading their own fiber links. Regardless of the data center type, both copper and fiber technology are advancing to support the need.

With TIA approving the ANSI/TIA-568-C.2-1 standard for Category 8 systems, you can be guaranteed that 2017 will bring the availability of Category 8 solutions for use in shorter switch-to-server data center connections of 30 meters or less. When those products hit the market, look for Fluke Networks to announce support for these new standards—and a way to upgrade your existing DSX-5000 to support them.

And fiber too will see some changes. Wideband multimode fiber (WBMMF), now referred to as OM5, will feature bandwidth characteristics at the 953-nm wavelength to support wavelength division multiplexing, which opens the door for running 100G over a duplex fiber connection and future 400G applications over the current 8-fiber MPO interface.

The good news is that testing of new OM5 fiber (when available) won’t be complicated. It has all the same specifications as previous multimode fiber with the exception of attenuation parameters specified for the 953-nm wavelength. And if you’re testing at both the 850-nm and 1300-nm wavelength per the preferred method, you can continue to do so for OM5.

Testers Keeping Score—So while we are confident that we’ve got testing covered for what’s coming in 2017, the testers themselves are geared up to offer all the benefits the world is starting to experience with IoT and cloud computing.

As more Fluke Networks Versiv tester users become familiar and comfortable with LinkWare Live (nearly 3 million results uploaded so far), 2017 will see an upsurge of test results being uploaded from any location rather than driving results back to the office. This will mean overall improved team productivity and rapid troubleshooting as results can be shared among all the right people—engineers, installers, project managers and consultants—from any place at any time and on any device.

And with remote setup by those most familiar with the project and asset tracking to see the geographical location of the testers, accuracy is improved and time is saved—something that has always been, and will remain, a trend.

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