As visitors enter the post-modern reception area of the building, located on the ground floor, they are struck by the size of the centrally located, triple storey glass dome facing them. The network room is situated in the basement at Redscreen, and sits at the base of this dome. The room is clearly visible from any floor and from all angles. This main computer is also known as the Nerve Centre, and is the heart of the business.
Fully access controlled, the room is occupied by a circular bank of completely open, data racks. These racks face inward, toward the centre of the room, onto a series of bushman sculptures. All wiring within the racks, as well as the electronic equipment upon the racks is fully exposed. By displaying the network hardware in this way, Redscreen clients are provided with a visual and tactile explanation of how a network is constructed. Interconnect Systems cabled the building with a combination of blown fibre cabling products (manufactured by Mainetti) and Molex Premise Networks’ PowerCat Category 5E copper cabling components. In order to create a secure cabling plant, Interconnect Systems deployed a multimode blown fibre backbone, which starts out from the main computer room, to 11 server rooms. Each server room provides services to a single Virtual Private Network. Each of the 9 fully segregated Redscreen project development teams have exclusive access to their own VPN.
Each VPN is firewall-protected. Because strict deadlines are often the order of the day in the software environment, Interconnect Systems needed to design a cabling system with redundancy features. Each fibre-optic backbone link, therefore, has a separately routed Category 5E copper backup link, feeding back to the main computer room. In the event of any of the primary fibre links being damaged, data traffic would instantaneously be diverted to these copper back-up paths.
On the floor cabling side, Interconnect Systems installed only Category 5E cable and components, to enable users to connect either a telephone, PC or laptop into any one of the 300 universal cabling points available on the network. The copper cabling is terminated onto Molex’s 24 port PowerCat patch panels. Flyleads and slack cables are managed, in the data racks, by brush type cable management panels.
Besides the redundancy aspect of the cabling installation, it was also important for the installed cabling system to meet stringent aesthetic requirements. The Redscreen environment offers visitors the comfort and ambience of a hotel. Most Redscreen clients spend many hours in consultation with the software specialists, and need to feel as if they are in a home-from-home whenever they visit.
A number of seating areas have been strategically positioned away from the mainstream work areas. In these areas, anyone may simply plug their laptop into the network access point closest to them. These discreetly concealed network points are placed throughout the premises, both indoors and out.
In the development rooms, aluminium power skirting was installed at shoulder height, to enable clients and programmers to link their laptops or PCs into the network, without having to search for a network point under a desk or close to the floor. The auditorium, which doubles as a training room, has been equipped with one network outlet point for each available seat. These points have been neatly installed to suit the decor.
In the director’s suites, short lengths of aluminium power skirting have been installed in positions that allow for network connectivity, without detracting from the environment.
Stephan Kruger of Interconnect Systems, who managed the Redscreen installation, says: «Usually we work in network rooms that are behind the scenes and install cabling points that are easy to spot. This client’s brief stated that the network room had to be in your face and the network outlets had to be cleverly camouflaged.»
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