Northern Trust serves the sophisticated financial needs of corporations, governments, financial institutions, public retirement and not-for-profit organisations in 37 countries around the world. The company offers private banking, trust and investment management services via its offices in Canada, the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Ireland, Singapore, UK and USA.
Northern Trust adheres to its principles of «personal quality service and a conservative, yet progressive course in developing new products and services.» These principles are reflected in the new network infrastructure being installed at Canary Wharf.
«The quality of our technology is key to our business,» explains Stephen F. Parrott, Vice President Technical Services, Northern Trust. «Our customers need to be able to trust in the reliability of our systems. 100% up-time is critical to the service we offer.»
The New Network
It is this need for reliability which was the driving factor in Northern Trust’s decision to invest in intelligent patching, and their selection of the Molex system. «Real Time will provide us with complete control over our network, automatically notifying our support personnel of any problems,» says Stephen.
The new network is designed to meet Northern Trust’s IT needs for the next three to five years. It consists of 7,000 outlets across seven floors, supporting a work force of 900. The building is flood-wired to capacity, not because staff levels are expected to rise dramatically, but to provide complete flexibility in the layout of the office space.
There is a 50µm multi-mode fibre dual backbone housed in split risers which connects the computer room containing all the servers on level one to a sub-equipment room on each floor, in a classic star-shaped structured cabling topology. There is also a supplementary copper back-bone for connection of voice or remote monitoring services for example.
Once installation is complete, the computer room will be designated a ‘dark’ area, with no routine access allowed at all. This strategy is made possible by the Real Time system which provides remote monitoring of the physical connections, with automatic documentation of all moves, adds and changes. There is a built-in alarm system which notifies the support personnel immediately of any unauthorised or incorrect connections.
Shaun Elston, Technical Services Consultant, Northern Trust explains: «We have always been able to monitor the servers and routers remotely; now we can do the same with the cable frames. No one will even be in the room unless we have physically let them in, to carry out a designated task. It means that we can have complete confidence in the cable connections.»
«Connecting a patch lead up incorrectly is an easy mistake to make,» continues Shaun. «But if it happens with the new system then an alarm will sound so the technician knows immediately that something is wrong. The fault will be flagged on the system to the IT manager. We can correct mistakes before they cause a problem.»
The system will also monitor the Category 5e network at Northern Trust’s existing building in the City of London. The fact that Real Time can be retrofitted to any third party legacy system was a key factor in Northern Trust’s choice. «The retrofit option saved us thousands of pounds because it meant we did not have to replace existing equipment,» said Shaun Elston.
The Molex Partnership
Stephen Parrott and Shaun Elston see the success of the new network as a direct result of the partnerships built up between Northern Trust’s UK IT team, the IT teams in Chicago, the installer Comunica and Molex Premise Networks. «When the budget for the system was drawn up, it was planned as a Category 5e network,» says Stephen. «By the time we came to implement it, we had upgraded the specification to a Category 6 network with intelligent patching, with no increase in the budget. It wasn’t easy but the team made it possible. Everyone worked together to optimise the design and achieve the common aim.»
Rob Cardigan, Technical Manager and Simon Barnard, Technical Sales Manager, Molex Premise Networks have been on site at Canary Wharf regularly throughout the installation project. Shaun gives examples of some of the areas where their practical advice has proved so valuable: «They made us aware of the impending 10Gbit fibre application and recommended the use of 50µm fibre cable rather than 62.5 which gives us extra bandwidth and drive distance with no additional cost implication.»
A Neat Solution
When it came to the work-space terminations, Northern Trust knew what they wanted to achieve — a tidy desk area with no trailing wires — and they turned again to their partners on the project to achieve it. The resulting solution is a box designed by Comunica, which houses the four connections neatly under desk. Active equipment is plugged in here, so only the main cable connection to the floor box is seen under the desk. The connection boxes remain hidden under the floor tile until they are needed to connect a work station. At that point, they are pulled through the floor tile grommet and installed under the desk. The height of the floor cavity is therefore the limiting factor on the size of the box. Standard Category 6 connectors would have been too big, but Molex designed an innovative angled Category 6 connector which allows all four points to fit neatly into the box.
It is all about control — taking the risk out of the system,» concludes Stephen F. Parrott, Vice President Technical Services for Northern Trust. «The cabling system is designed to support the business for the next three to five years, with 100% reliability. We have no intention of re-visiting the cabling system in that time. Every eventuality that we have thought of has been catered for.»
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