Mini Smart Building Toolkit
November 13, 2002
The toolkit provides an outline for building operators who wish to adopt the Information Renaissance "Smart Building" model. In this model the network usage of building tenants is aggregated on a building-wide network and the building operator serves as the tenants' Internet Service Provider. Upstream bandwidth is purchased in bulk and distributed throughout the building so tenants can enjoy easy access with peak speeds equal to that of the building's high-speed link. There are substantial cost savings in this approach, allowing either low-cost service to the tenants, a revenue stream for the operator, or some combination of these benefits. Optionally, the building operator can also provide network services and on-site user support with similar financial advantages.
This document presents a simple and effective model for the provision of Internet service in multi-tenant buildings. It was developed by Information Renaissance for the former Alcoa headquarters building in Pittsburgh, now known as the Regional Enterprise Tower (RET), which was donated by the company for the use of regional economic development agencies and non-profit organizations. When Alcoa's then CEO Paul O'Neill announced the donation of the building and cited its central location in the city, Information Renaissance proposed that the building could gain an equally prominent place on the Internet, with high-speed network connectivity made available at low cost to all building tenants. The proposal was subsequently developed as the Smart Building Project.
The purpose of the Smart Building model is to provide a means for tenants to get high-bandwidth services at affordable prices. The goal is to make T1 and greater data rates available at prices traditional service providers charge for business DSL and cable modem services. A related goal is to make on-site technical support available at affordable prices.
The model consists of three primary elements - locally-owned infrastructure, aggregated demands, and shared resources. Locally-owned infrastructure gives the building owner the ability to tailor services to match tenants' needs, with a building backbone adequate for all building-level needs. Aggregation of demand permits the building to purchase resources, such as upstream Internet service, mail or Web servers, and technical support, that can be used in common by the building's tenants. Shared resources allow the building to make efficient use of available services. For example, due to the intermittent nature of individual usage patterns, hundreds of users can share a single 10 Mbps upstream Internet connection without significantly degrading each other's use. Furthermore, when one user needs to "burst" to full access of the 10 Mbps link, this is possible, albeit only for a few seconds of use.
The Smart Building Project followed this approach, using public and foundation funds to install a unified building-wide network in the RET. The network design involved (i) a central network operations center (NOC) with a fiber optic based connection to the Internet, switching equipment and servers for the provision of e-mail and Web hosting services, (ii) a fiber optic backbone from the NOC to each of the building's ten wiring closets, (iii) Ethernet switches in the wiring closets and (iv) Category 5E distribution wiring to each tenant. The Project aggregated the demands of the tenants to purchase a 10 Mbps upstream Internet connection and to hire on-site support staff. Tenants were able to share this Internet connection, the use of the e-mail and Web servers, and the on-site technical staff, dividing the costs through user fees. The result of the model was that shared use of the 10 Mbps Internet connection was made available to tenants at prices starting at $100 per month - much lower than the $4,500 monthly price for the upstream connection and substantially less than the prices of business DSL and cable modem services.
The model of aggregated demand and shared infrastructure that was developed for this project is applicable to any multi-tenant building. Ideally, it should include all of the following elements:
This document tells you how to set up a Mini Smart Building. If you possess the necessary technical and mechanical skills, you can develop a Mini Smart Building on your own. You may contract any portion of the work with which you do not feel comfortable, or you can hire Information Renaissance or other network contractors to oversee project development.
Our philosophy at Information Renaissance is to empower our clients, who are typically social service providers for low-income communities. Distributed Internet resources, such as software repositories or discussion groups, are well-adapted to this philosophy. The situation is comparable to the development of a Web site: you can spend a lot of money for a proprietary commercial solution, but you can equally well assemble open source software, find some local artistic talent and roll your own Web site for next to nothing. We believe that this philosophy can be extended successfully from the desktop to the local area network (LAN) to the server to the wide area network (WAN). The present document focuses on the (building-wide) LAN portion of this activity; other Information Renaissance publications will describe the other components.
Section B describes the types of services that a Mini Smart Building can offer and discusses benefits for the building owner and his tenants. Section C gives a set of choices for operating a Mini Smart Building. Section D offers a step-by-step description of how to build your Mini Smart Building. Section E discusses costs and benefits of the activity, and necessary forms and tables are provided in Section F.
B. Smart Building Services and Their Benefits
1. What Services Should You Provide?
The benefits provided by the Smart Building model for e-mail, Web hosting and similar services, are not as dramatic as for Internet access. Demand for these hosted services can be aggregated in a manner similar to the aggregation for Internet services. A building owner can purchase a dedicated server to host e-mail accounts and Web sites (or purchase space on another's server), but each end user requires a separate e-mail account and separate space on the server for the user's Web site. Prices for e-mail, Web hosting and other similar services are also subject to more competition than for Internet access, such that the savings to be achieved with the Smart Building model are less dramatic. Nevertheless, tenants may expect to be able to purchase all of their Internet-related services from the provider they use for Internet services, and a building owner may see additional revenue opportunities from the sale of these related services.
The options for the building owner are (1) to purchase and maintain its own servers to provide the services or (2) to purchase the services from an upstream provider (from the upstream Internet provider or separately from another provider) and resell them to the tenants.
2. What are the benefits? A Smart Building has benefits for both the building owner and the tenants.
Benefits for the tenants.
How does a building owner put this all together? Does the owner install the infrastructure? Does he provide the services to tenants and do billing and collections? Does he need special expertise or skills? This section addresses these points and lists possible strategies.
The ultimate goal for the building owner, in terms of installation, operation and maintenance, is his ability to manage activities within the building - to make sure things are done in accord with the tenants' needs and the owner's interests. This includes the infrastructure to be installed, the services to be provided, the prices of the services, and the entities providing these services. One way to manage these tasks is for the owner to handle the work directly, but there are several possible variations that can increase or reduce risks and costs.
1. How to install the infrastructure. The infrastructure to be installed consists of (a) passive items that will become a part of the building and (b) active equipment that is easily installed in and removed from the network. The first category consists of wiring pathways, wiring closets and the wiring itself. The second category consists of routers, switches, hubs, servers, and other electronic components.
Passive items. If the building is new - not yet built - the building owner will probably want to include the design of the wiring pathways, wiring closets and wiring in the building's construction plans and have the installation done by an experienced contractor. In that way, needed infrastructure will be designed and installed as intended. And the building owner will avoid the costs of tearing open walls and floors later.
If the building already exists, the building owner will have to first assess the existing conditions (as discussed in Section D.2). Ideally, sufficient space will have been provided for wiring closets and pathways, and the current service providers or the owner will have installed modern structured wiring. If not, some amount of retrofitting will be required. The retrofitting can often be done incrementally in the course of the move-in process for each new tenant. As noted in the preceding section, if the owner is careful, he can use this opportunity and the tenant's move-in allowance to fund necessary improvements or modifications in wiring pathways and wiring. Alternatively, if the tenant finds a service provider interested in connecting the tenant, the provider might be willing to install the necessary wiring. If so, the building owner would want to control the type of wiring to be installed through the use of a license agreement. (See Section F.10 for a sample agreement.)
If the owner is considering Mini Smart Building renovations to increase the rentability of the space, the owner may be forced to pursue the improvements himself, although the building owner may be able to stage the improvements to increase the likelihood of recovering the costs from others. This will involve installation of the necessary wiring closets, pathways and wiring by a professional contractor.
There will be a temptation for the building owner to allow one service provider to bear the cost of installing the infrastructure as that provider attempts to serve a particular tenant or offers to provide such infrastructure in exchange for the exclusive right to serve the entire building. This is tempting - and may be a good idea - especially if the service provider is willing to fund the full cost of the infrastructure. There are several issues, however, that a building owner should address. First, with respect to wiring, wiring pathways, wiring closets and any equipment that will remain in the building after the service provider has gone, the building owner will want to ensure that the infrastructure conforms to current wiring standards. Second, if the owner is willing to grant the service provider exclusive access to the building, the owner will want to specify minimum types of services to be provided, pricing caps and performance standards to ensure that the tenants' needs are satisfied. The building owner can obtain this assurance by requiring the chosen service provider to execute a license agreement that grants the provider permission to install its facilities and specifies minimum requirements in exchange for this privilege.
Active equipment. The building owner has more options with networking equipment - both in the types of equipment required and the options for its installation and maintenance. First, the type of equipment required depends upon the size of the building and the number of tenants. Second, networking equipment is not generally affixed to the building. It can be changed and moved at little expense as needs change or arrangements with new contractors might require.
For small buildings, the equipment will usually consist only of a switch and and one or more low-cost hubs. These can be installed easily by the building owner or a contractor when service is first established. Larger buildings will require additional switches and hubs. A contractors service - or the service of in-house personnel - will be required to set up services, such as firewalls and proxies, on the building's switches.
If the building owner elects to provide services hosted on building servers, there will be a need to find space for these servers. The simplest approach is to enlarge the central wiring closet, turning it into a Network Operations Center (NOC). If these servers are to be managed by some entity that is distinct from the entity that will manage the network, then there needs to be some provision for separate access to the different sets of equipment, typically by the construction of cages within the NOC or by explicit access agreements with the various equipment managers.
2. How to keep things going. There is very little need for ongoing operations support and maintenance. Passive items, such as wires and raceways, do not require attention from day to day or year to year in the course of normal operations. Maintenance is usually limited to repairs of accidental breaks, such as when a telephone installer inadvertently removes part of the network wiring. These accidents will be caught as part of the ongoing network monitoring, as described in Section D.9.
Operation and maintenance of networking equipment involves more attention than the passive components for operations and maintenance. For small buildings equipped with hubs and a single switch, the building owner only needs access to a contractor for the installation and for maintenance if any problems emerge, which should typically be quite rare. Larger buildings will require more attention, since changes will be more frequent. Furthermore, at larger sites there may be a need for "shaping" of the network traffic, that is to say, limiting the flow of data from one or more clients so as to balance loads across the network. The need for such intervention will be revealed in the course of network monitoring, which will show when portions of the network's capacity top out in normal usage. Here, too, a contracted effort will be sufficient for all but the largest buildings; and the needed effort will typically be minimal. The expected costs are discussed in Section E below.
3. How to provide services. The actual provision of services - after the infrastructure is installed - involves the maintenance of the passive elements of the network (i.e., wiring closets, wiring pathways and wiring), the configuration, monitoring and maintenance of active equipment (i.e., the networking equipment), sales of the service to tenants, billing and collection and responses to customer inquiries. The most obvious and direct way to perform these functions is through the employees of the building owner. However, there are variations in the way the functions are performed that can help the building owner gain technical expertise and minimize the capital and recurring costs that the owner needs to recover. These variations include the strategic use of contractors and resellers, the strategic allocation of risk, and the retention or grant of exclusive rights to serve the building's customers.
a. Operations through employees. A building owner whose employees provide the services bears the costs of the project and the risk of loss or profit. The building owner funds the capital costs of the infrastructure and/or negotiates with tenants to allocate some or all of the capital costs to them. The building owner also bears the recurring costs and the responsibility to hire new staff or train existing staff with requisite technical expertise. To maximize its chances to recover its costs, the building owner will also likely restrict the ability of other service providers to serve tenants. This option provides the building owner with complete control over the project, ensuring that tenants receive the desired services at the prices intended by the owner.
b. Operations through contractors. A building owner who provides services using contractors to perform the functions required to provide service again bears the costs of the project and the risk of loss or profit. The building owner will also fund the capital costs of the infrastructure, negotiate with tenants to allocate some or all of the capital costs to them, and retain the exclusive right to serve the building's tenants.
Unlike the first option, however, the building owner may be able to gain expertise and reduce its recurring costs by contracting out functions such as monitoring, maintenance and technical support. A building owner who lacks the ability to train an empoyee or a sense of who has expertise or not may do better by hiring a reputable contractor. A contractor used and paid as needed may also be more cost-effective than hiring an employee when the demand for the employee's services might not require a full-time level of effort.
This option still provides the building owner with complete control over the project - in terms of services and prices - and adds the prospect of professional expertise and without bearing the full cost of employees. The contractor would be paid a fee for the services as needed, and the fee would be added to the building owner's recurring costs - which the building owner would still have the burden and risk of recovering.
c. Operations through franchisees. A building owner who uses a franchisee to provide service has the opportunity to allocate some of the costs and the risks of loss to the franchisee. The building owner can give a service provider the exclusive right to provide service to tenants in exchange for the service provider's agreement to install the necessary infrastructure, provide the services, bear the capital and recurring costs and receive all or most of the tenant revenues. The building owner would specify minimum requirements for the infrastructure, services and perhaps prices, and the service provider would take the risk of operating the project profitably.
Under this option, the building owner retains indirect control over the project and eliminates its responsibility for capital and recurring costs and its risk of loss. The risk borne by the building owner, however, is the risk that the franchisee will do a poor job of providing service, with the building owner being required to fire the franchisee and hire another. Perhaps most important, the use of the option will be limited in practical terms to buildings with a large enough tenant base to enable the franchisee to recover its costs.
d. Strategic selection of services provided by the building owner,
contractors and resellers. The building owner may also decide to
provide services through a variety of options. For example, the building owner
might provide Internet services with his own employees (and bear the costs and
risks of doing so) and contract with resellers and contractors for the provision
of email, web hosting and technical support services. Under such an
arrangement, the building owner bears the costs and risks associated with the
Internet services and allocates some of the costs and risks for the other
services to the third parties.
This Section offers you a step by step guide for putting together your Mini Smart Building. At each step you can decide how much of the activity to do on your own and how much to contract to other parties, as discussed in Section C. Even if you are contracting for various pieces of the work, the step by step guide should be useful in helping you to know what to expect. The accompanying tables - Section E.8 and E.9 - provide guides to the costs associated with this work. If you subcontract everything, you should end up with total costs similar to those given in the tables. But if you undertake some of the work on your own - or in association with other planned building improvements - you should be able to save significant amounts of money. Just be careful if someone offers you a shortcut that sounds too good to be true; it could represent long-term headaches in terms of performance or maintenance.
1. Roll out your floor plans. The first step in the design of your mini Smart Building is to familiarize yourself with the physical space that you are providing for your tenants. Get a current set of building plans. These don't have to be super-detailed - something like 1/4 inch to a foot will work fine for our purposes. You want "as-built" plans, not architects' original drawings. And you want plans that are sufficiently up-to-date to show all major renovations that have been made over the lifetime of the building. If it's hard to locate the necessary drawings, you can substitute reasonably accurate sketches, which you can compile by walking the floors with a tape measure and notepad.
Once you have a set of plans, leaf through them to be sure they make sense to you. Orient yourself on each floor and see if you can easily spot familiar landmarks such as stairways and elevators. Then look for items that may be less familiar but will be key to the construction of your smart space - closets to hold patch panels for building wiring, hubs, switches and other electronics. You may find telephone or electrical closets that can do double-duty for this purpose. Look for such closets on each floor of your building. You will probably find them in the same location on each floor of the building, lined up one on top of the other. Or you may find them on every other floor or every third floor, but probably in the same location. Since you'll be putting electronic equipment into these closets, avoid putting janitor's closets into double duty service; their wet and sometimes corrosive environment is a bad home for delicate equipment.
In buildings with very large floors, you will need multiple closets: you will be placing network hubs in the closets, and wire runs from the hub to any desktop cannot exceed 100 meters.
If you succeed in locating sufficient closets on the plans, you can begin a make a set of notes for each floor of the building. Your notes, which will be completed in steps 2 and 3 below, should provide information on the following points:
The sample form in Section F.1 will help you to compile the necessary information.
2. Find the wires and closets. Since wiring closets are often small, you may have trouble finding them on the plans. The only way to be sure of what you've got is to walk the floors and look things over. Take your note pad and tape measure so that you can fill in the information listed above, and make a systematic trek through your building to explore its wiring closets and their various interconnections.
Here's what you're looking for: you want to find where the closets are, check out what's in them and see if you can spot conduits or raceways that carry existing wiring from floor to floor. You can use the form in Section F.1 as a guide. Depending upon the age of your building and past usage, you may be in for a range of interesting surprises.
Most electrical and telephone closets have people going in and out of them as service providers, building staff and tenants extend new services or correct problems with existing services. In a well-maintained building these spaces will be reasonably clean and orderly. But even in the neatest closets there may be a lot of junk to deal with. Old telephone lines may have been chopped off at the service panel but otherwise left in place. Obsolete data networks may fill up raceways. And specialized systems like burglar alarms or security cameras may have been fitted into the building and abandoned.
Make a note of any obsolete equipment or wiring that you find. If you can't identify some of the things you see, invite an electrician to join you for a later survey. Also, take this opportunity to remove obvious fire hazards and to cart away equipment that may have been abandoned in these semi-public spaces. But hang onto old racks and other fixtures that might be recycled for your new network setup.
Once you have scoped out the closets, look closely to see how electrical and phone wiring is carried from floor to floor. The most convenient arrangement is one in which there are large open raceways rising in straight paths the entire height of the building. But such pathways may be prohibited by fire regulations or discouraged as providing too much fun for roaming rodents, so don't expect a completely open ground here.
The opposite extreme - in terms of the effort and expense you'll have to put out - is a situation in which all vertical wire runs are enclosed in conduit and the conduit is sealed where it penetrates each floor. This may force you to drill new holes in the floor to run new conduit for data cabling. This is a straightforward procedure if the wiring closets are stacked one on top of the other, but there is a modest expense - $100-$200 a hole - for the drilling that will have to be done.
Worse yet is the situation in which the wiring closets are scattered around in different locations. The task of following the wires may be too much for you. Don't despair, but prepare yourself for additional expenses when it comes time to install the new wiring you'll need. Your wiring contractor will trace out the routes and give you the bad news about costs.
3. Survey the tenants. You can get a pretty good idea of what your tenants are going to need by simply counting heads and looking for a minute at the nature of their business. But since you'll be dealing with each tenant as a network customer, it's important to let them know you want to help them out with their network and information technology needs and, particularly, what data services they use or will soon need. A great way to start this process is to survey these needs and talk to your tenants about what they would like in the way of Internet access and office networks.
A sample survey is given in Section F.2. Here we'll go through the various points with a word of explanation on each:
4. Plan the wiring. Even if you do not plan to install the wiring yourself, it is useful to have some familiarity with the terminology and the choices involved. We'll follow what the industry calls a "structured wiring" model, which organizes services on a hierarchical basis, which is illustrated by the diagram in Section F.3. Basically, your building's network wiring will be made up of two components. One is the building backbone, a set of very high-speed connections that tie together the building's wiring closets. The physical medium for these connections can be copper, if the total length of any run can be kept under 100 meters, or optical fiber. These links should start at a central closet, from which the building's network backbone should fan out to every other wiring closet. If you are using fiber, it is adequate to specify multi-mode fiber, for which the associated optical drivers are relatively inexpensive. You can also use single-mode fiber, which is designed for long hauls across a city but which can be deployed for shorter runs as well. You will, however, pay a premium for the optical drivers that single-mode fiber requires. If you are using copper wiring for your building backbone, specify category 5E or category 6 copper.
The building backbone will run from a patch panel in the central closet to similar, if smaller, patch panels in each of the subsidiary wiring closets. Patch cords will connect each section of the backbone to a central switch or router at one end and a subsidiary switch at the other end. The necessary electronics will be described below.
The second component of the building wiring is a set of lateral runs from the wiring closets, typically located on each floor of the building, to the workspaces of your building's tenants. Several electronic components in your satellite wiring closets distribute the network traffic through lateral runs to each end user and isolate the traffic of each tenant from the traffic of other tenants. These components are described in subsection 7.
Although we speak of a satellite closet on each floor of the building, this is not strictly necessary. For smaller buildings, it may suffice to have one closet that serves the floor it is on plus the floors above and below it. Or in larger buildings, it may be necessary to have several closets on each floor so as to assure that no copper run exceeds 100 meters in length.
The lateral runs should be category 5E or category 6 copper. Network connections are made with "RJ-45" connectors - the same style of connector that is used for telephones. The difference between a network connector and a telephone connector is that one has room for 8 wires while the other has room for only 4 wires. Nonetheless the telephone-style connector can fit into the center of a network-style outlet. This allows for a particularly simple and convenient approach to telephone and network wiring: use category 5E or 6 cabling for both, and separate the functions at the patch panel. Telephone outlets can be patched to a telephone junction block placed in the same closet as the network equipment. Network outlets can be patched to network hubs, which are described in the following section. This provides simplicity, economy and flexibility in the deployment of this wiring. Obviously, it also suggests that you install network wiring and telephone wiring at the same time, reducing costs and accommodating the particular needs of each new tenant.
5. Plan the electronics. A diagram of the network electronics in given in Section F.4. The function of these electronics is to provide very high-speed links among all building tenants, to give tenants shared access to the upstream Internet connection, to allow the sharing of resources within each tenant's organization, and to protect the traffic on each tenant's network from being seen by other tenants or people outside the building, except for specific services meant for external consumption. The network elements that provide this functionality are as follows:
On the downstream side there are ports to direct traffic to each satellite wiring closet. If the building backbone is fiber, then these ports must have fiber interfaces. If the building backbone is copper, then lower-cost copper interfaces will suffice.
An important function of the central switch or router is to provide routing - directing network traffic coming in on one port so that it flows out on a port appropriate for reaching its ultimate destination. The recent evolution of low-cost Ethernet switches to include basic routing functions has made it possible to provide this functionality without going to great expense. An exception would be if you desired to have multiple Internet service providers, with automatic fallback from one provider to another in case of upstream outages. We recommend this only for very large sites, since a good provider will provide this level of redundancy for you and many outages are regional in scope, for which it may not help to have multiple providers.
6. Check out Internet suppliers. Buying an Internet connection for your building is quite different from buying a simple dial-up connection. There are two logical components to this purchase, although you will probably buy them both at the same time. The first component is the physical connection, known as the "local loop" to your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The local loop may be copper, fiber or wireless. Fiber is preferable, in that it allows for higher speeds. The ideal service for a mini Smart Building is one that provides dialable bandwidth over a fiber local loop. The dialable feature means that lines speeds can be dialed up to higher settings on demand, typically as your service needs grow. By providing this service over fiber, which can encompass speeds of over 1 Gigabit per second, you assure yourself of a pretty much unlimited ceiling to this growth.
Fiber connections are also available at fixed speeds - 2, 5, 10 or 25 Megabits per second, for example. For lower speeds copper will suffice. T1 service has long been a standby of telephone companies. It corresponds to a line rate of approximately 1.5 Megabits per second. We regard this bandwidth as marginal for a mini Smart Building, since individual users can easily make network demands of this magnitude. Local loops of at least 10 Megabits per second, provided through fiber or wireless links, are preferable because such bandwidth is sufficient for demanding applications, such as video conferencing and streaming video.
Point to point wireless links have seen a remarkable growth in capacity and deployment over the last two years. In markets where competition among fiber providers is poor, this technology may provide a good, cost-effective alternative to fiber. Common technologies include 802.11b ("Wi-Fi"), which provides 11 Mbps service; 802.11a, a newer 54 Mbps alternative; and various proprietary technologies at 2, 5, 10, 20, 40, 60 and 100 Mbps.
The time it takes to install a wireless link is typically much less than the time it takes a service provider to run a new copper or fiber line. You will, however, need to provide access to your building's roof, and there will be a need to find a cable path from the building interior onto the roof.
The second logical component of your Internet service is the Internet access itself. This access will be rated at some speed - 1.5, 5, 10 or more Megabits per second. Typical costs are in the range of $500 to $1,000 per Mbps per month. Your success in finding service at the lower price will be a measure of how competitive your local market for Internet service currently is.
There are other hidden factors in Internet service, which you can explore by talking to other customers of the service you are considering. These are as follows:
If your ISP engages in no overselling, expect to pay a premium price for the service. If your ISP engages in excessive overselling, expect to experience poor performance on your link, at least relative to the advertised bandwidth. Although few ISPs will admit the extent of their overselling publicly, a factor of 6 can be seen as modest overselling.
7. Purchase the hardware. Following the structured wiring model described in previous sections, we can now put together a shopping list. You can either buy the hardware yourself or let a subcontractor handle the task. If you choose to delegate this work to someone else, the list given below and the more detailed information given in Section F.6 will provide a sanity check as you work with your subcontractor. We'll organize the list of required hardware from the top down, that is, starting with the central closet and proceeding downward (or outward, if you prefer) to individual tenants and users. The chart in Section F.7 will help you find the information relevant for your size of building - small, medium or large.
Items in the central wiring closet:
Items in the satellite wiring closets:
8. Put in the infrastructure. There are several steps to deploy your network infrastructure. Again, you should follow a structured approach.
9. Monitor your network. If you have selected manageable hubs, then all of your switches, routers and hubs can be remotely monitored by using software that supports a network monitoring protocol known as SNMP (simple network management protocol). This software can be located on any machine that can reach your hardware through the network, which means a machine anywhere on the Internet. In practical terms, since you will want your network management software to deal with problems in your network (and since these problems could spoil its connection with the rest of the Internet), this management station should probably be located somewhere in your building. If you are linking together several mini Smart Buildings, another possibility is to place a management station in one building and use it to monitor all of your facilities.
There are many possible choices for network monitoring hardware and software. Popular commercial versions are offered by Hewlett Packard, Sun and Cisco. All of these are moderately expensive, with software fees in the thousands of dollars. For our non-profit clients, Information Renaissance prefers an open source solution. One example is the MRTG package, which can run on various Unix operating systems at no cost. This program monitors SNMP parameters and produces easily-interpreted graphs showing network performance and loads.
10. Support your users. Having a number of network users at one site means that it is relatively easy to provide on-site support for these users. At the very least you will need to have a telephone trouble line, which should be closely monitored to handle problem reports.
Your operational goal should be that the trouble line never rings except when you already know that a problem exists. This can be accomplished by active monitoring of each tenant's router to ensure that these routers are always accessible across your network. If you couple this with active monitoring of your upstream Internet link, then you will know anytime a tenant's LAN loses connectivity to the Internet.
When links go down, your status monitor will display a problem, and its source should be investigated. Typically, there will be someone working in the wiring closet, who may have inadvertently disconnected a patch cord or the power to a hub or router. The structured nature of your network means that most outages will be localized, limiting their impact to only a few tenants and simplifying the task of tracking down what needs to be fixed.
You can outsource network maintenance, but keep in mind that your tenants will expect a very fast response - measured in minutes, not hours - so be sure that your network maintainer can get service personnel to your site in a hurry. They won't be coming to visit you very frequently, but you will be distressed if they are delayed in coming when you need them. This is a good argument for on-site personnel, but it's also true that network outages are infrequent and won't occupy anyone full-time unless you have a building with hundreds of tenants.
This Section discusses financial aspects of a Mini Smart Building - both costs and funding mechanisms. The tables in Section E.8 and E.9 provide representative estimates of these costs, but you can often do pieces of the work yourself and realize major savings. The most expensive item - lateral wiring - is something with which you should already be familiar, since the technology and the installation process is more or less the same as telephone wiring. If you put in telephones and data at the same time, you will be able to avoid many duplicate expenses.
There are two categories of costs - capital costs for equipment, wiring and installation and recurring costs for upstream connectivity, maintenance and technical support. The capital costs required for a particular building will depend upon the services you choose to offer, the size of the building and the ease of running wiring throughout the building.
1. Capital costs. If a building owner only wants to provide Internet services (and to offer e-mail, Web hosting, technical support and possibly other services, by resale), the owner needs only to develop a modern building network - consisting of Category 5E copper wiring, a central wiring closet, some amount of networking equipment, perhaps some number of satellite wiring closets linked by fiber optic cabling and possibly (depending upon the choice of upstream Internet access) a wireless access point for the building's roof.
Small buildings (3 floors or less) will typically require Category 5E wiring, a central wiring closet and an Ethernet switch. In buildings of this size, the wiring runs from the central wiring closet to each tenant will be short enough to reach every workspace from a single wiring closet. The typical costs for such an installation are listed in the second column of the table in Section F.8.
Larger buildings will involve longer wiring runs - too long to be served from a single wiring closet. As noted earlier, a rule of thumb is that a satellite switch and wiring closet will be required where wiring runs would otherwise exceed 100 meters. And, since the cables from all workspaces served by a given closet converge at that closet, there will be practical space limitations on the number of workspaces a single closet can serve. This means that satellite wiring closets and switches will likely be required for approximately every 3 floors of a building. Obviously this number will depend upon the area of each floor; in buildings with very large floors there will need to be several wiring closets on each floor to meet the 100 meter length restriction. The incremental costs of additional satellite closets and switches are also illustrated in Section F.8.
Wiring Costs. The wiring costs in Section F.8 are divided in two parts -costs that are associated with the building backbone and closets and costs that are associated with lateral wiring and hubs. The first set of costs are properly part of the building infrastructure. The second set are associated with individual tenants, rather like the costs of providing telephone or electrical service. Typically the first set of costs would be absorbed into a tenant's rent, while the second set would be included in a new tenant's remodeling allowance or paid as part of the tenant's move-in charges. However you distribute these charges, you can safely amortize them over a period of five years or longer.
The costs of running wiring and installing wiring closets will vary based upon the condition of the building and the ease with which these tasks can be done. New buildings are best. Wiring closets and pathways can be designed into the layout of the building up front, and the installations can be done during construction as the walls are being installed. Buildings already in place may be more difficult and costly, potentially requiring the creation of new closet space and wiring pathways with the attendant need for opening and re-doing walls. However, even in existing buildings, the installations can be done cost-effectively if the buildings have enough strategically-located wiring closets with adequate room and if they have clear wiring pathways to run new wiring.
Setup for Internet access. There will typically be a setup fee for establishing the local loop to your upstream Internet service provider. The figures in Section F.8 are derived from our experience with fiber and wireless local loops. Charges will be less for copper.
Hosted services. The principal cost to establish e-mail, Web hosting and other local services is the price of a server. A single machine can house multiple services, although for large installations you might choose to enhance performance, reliability and security by using separate machines for various services. We will discuss these issues in more detail in a separate document.
The servers must be set up with an operating system and software for e-mail, Web hosting and other desired services. The most popular choices are either to use Outlook, Internet Application Server and products from Microsoft or to adopt an "Open Source" approach with Linux, Apache and other community-supported products. Given the enormous price differential between these approaches, we prefer the Open Source approach. In the past support was easier to find for Microsoft's products, but now fresh college graduates in computer science are probably as comfortable with Linux as with Windows - and only with Linux will they ever have seen the source code! Representative costs for servers and software are given in Section F.8.
Technical support. If the building owner intends to maintain the network in-house, equipment and software will be needed to monitor, troubleshoot and maintain the network. At a minimum this will include:
The cost of these items can vary widely, depending on how elaborate a setup you wish to create. At the low end of the scale you can monitor traffic, provide a clear graphical display of network conditions and issue automatic pager messages or e-mail alerts with a program called Intermapper running, for example, on a $1,000 Apple iMac. Intermapper itself costs about $1,000, depending on the scale of the system to be monitored. You can also buy products from Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and others, which provide more elaborate network analysis tools and cost as much as five times more than this basic system.
Network test tools also differ greatly in functionality and cost. The simplest and most essential device is a continuity tester to check network connections, which costs less than $100. At the other end of the scale are traffic analyzers that cost thousands of dollars. If you are running a network with hundreds of users, your network manager will probably put such a device in his budget - and you should probably not say "no" to this request. But it's pointless to buy such equipment unless you know how to use it.
2. Recurring Costs. The recurring costs will include the cost of the upstream Internet connection, the costs of monitoring and maintenance, and the cost of technical support (if this service is provided). The nature and magnitude of the costs depend upon the choice of services to be provided, the size of the building and number of tenants to be served.
Internet Access. There are three elements of recurring cost if the building owner decides simply to provide Internet access to tenants - the cost of the upstream Internet connection, the cost of maintaining the electronics and the cost of technical support for the management of the network.
The cost of the upstream connection will depend upon the needs of the tenants, which will depend upon the number of tenants, their likely uses of the Internet and their intent to interact and collaborate with others. A small building with 3-4 small business or non-profit tenants can probably make do with a connection using a T1 local loop, with an estimated approximate cost of $400 if purchased at prices envisioned by the Internet cooperative. [What about other cities where there is no cooperative?] A mid-size building with 10 small business or non-profit tenants may require a somewhat larger connection of 5 Mbps. A large building with 24 tenants may require a connection of 10 Mbps.
The building may also want to make arrangements for a backup Internet service at somewhat lower bandwidth for continued service in the event of an outage with the primary connection. This could be a DSL, cable modem or T1 connection depending upon the building's needs.
The cost of maintenance is estimated at the annual rate of 10 percent of the cost of the electronics. The fixed infrastructure (i.e., wiring, wiring pathways and wiring closets) should require little or no maintenance, once they're installed. The electronics (i.e., networking equipment, such as routers, hubs and switches) may require replacements, upgrades and reconfiguration. An annual 10 percent of the cost of the electronics is considered a conservative estimate of these costs.
Hosted services. The building owner has three choices on how to provide services, such as e-mail and Web hosting, that involve the use of server computers. The owner can install, operate and maintain the servers inside the building. He can resell the services hosted on others' servers. Or he can simply allow tenants to purchase the services from third parties.
The installation of servers inside the building will require a minimal level of continuing support. For e-mail and Web hosting services, this support includes monitoring (which can be automated), regular data backups (which can also be automated) and the setting up and changing of e-mail and Web hosting accounts for individual customers. Small and mid-size buildings will not require a full-time employee for this work. They can contract for the work as needed. Estimates of likely costs are included in Section F.9.
The resale of services hosted by other providers may make sense under the right circumstances. In a reselling relationship, the company selling to the building owner will be responsible for the provision of the services and will sell them to the building owner at a wholesale price. The building owner pays the company and charges rates to tenants in amounts sufficient to recover all of the building owner's costs.
The most likely option, however, is to allow tenants to purchase these services directly from third party providers. This option is simple technically and administratively. It may pose some difficulties for tenants, however. Web hosting services are not generally bundled into a service package with Internet services, but e-mail services are sold in such bundled packages. Tenants, therefore, may have to expend greater effort and research to locate and purchase satisfactory e-mail services. This burden, of course, can be relieved somewhat by recommendations from the building owner.
Technical Support. Three types of technical support may be needed. First, to monitor and manage the building network: after the network is installed and configured and tenants are connected, little day-to-day effort will generally be required. Indeed, network monitoring and management can be provided as a remotely operated service for a number of different buildings. Electronic equipment may "hang" periodically, requiring a shutdown and restart. Tenants change from time to time, requiring new accounts and configurations to accommodate them. For all but the largest buildings, this effort will not require an on-site employee. Instead, the work can be readily outsourced for a relatively modest fee. We've budgeted $200/month, $500 and $1,200 for small, mid-size and large buildings, respectively. This is based on a cooperative model, where support staff are shared among a number of buildings. These figures assume that one full-time employee can supervise sites with a total of 90 clients, meaning that each clients is budgeted for slightly less than two hours of support time per month.
The second type of support relates to hosted services. These services are easily managed from a distance, so the cooperative model is a reasonable one to consider. Assuming a high level of automation, we estimate the same level of effort as for network management - roughly two hours of support time per client per month, or $200, $500 or $1,200 per month for small, mid-size and large buildings.
The third type of support is for tenants' internal LANs and for the assistance of individual users. This is more expensive than the other types of support, since it involves far more person to person contact and typically requires personnel who can be present on-site. Some degree of automation is possible, if support personnel make use of the network and of software that allows them to take remote control of client's computers. On the basis of our experience with the Smart Building we have estimated that one full-time employee can handle support for 45 building tenants. This leads to estimates of $400, $1,000 or $2,400 per month for small, mid-size and large buildings. But remember that this buys an average of only four hours of direct staff time per month for each tenant. Another arrangement might be to charge hourly rates for this type of service. Typical hourly rates for technical support range from $100 to $200 per hour.
The decision will generally depend upon whether the additional services can generate revenues to cover the costs of the services. Small and mid-sized buildings may not have a tenant base large enough to support the cost of an on-site technical support person. This involves a consideration of the number of tenants likely to purchase the service and the prices at which the services can be offered.
Administrative Costs. If the building owner will be the ultimate provider of services to the tenants, he will incur costs in enrolling customers, responding to customer questions and complaints, and billing and collecting revenues. The level of effort and related costs will be minimal with small and mid-size buildings. We estimate the costs to range from $10 to $50 per customer per month. The effort and costs increase with a large building, but the costs per customer may actually decrease with the adoption of efficient billing methods.
3. Funding the capital costs. Capital costs can be divided into three general categories - (a) wiring closets and pathways, (b) wiring and (c) network electronics and servers. A variety of strategies may be used for the categories.
(a) Wiring closets and pathways. The building's wiring closets and wiring pathways will generally be designed, installed and funded by the building owner, particularly the closets and pathways installed at the time of the building's construction. These facilities will have long service lives and benefit all tenants who use the building. These are also facilities that will generally be installed whether the building is intended to be a "smart" building or not.
Responsibility for the costs of new closets and pathways installed after construction to convert a building into a smart building will also likely be the building owner's responsibility - although there may be ways to recover at least a portion of the costs. If a building owner is willing and able to phase in the necessary improvements to coincide with the move-in of new tenants, it may be possible to fund the improvements from the tenant's move-in allowance or through additional upfront charges incorporated into the lease. (Building owners generally calculate into their proposals for the rental of office space a dollar amount of costs that the owner will absorb to make the space ready and usable by a tenant. This amount is usually used for items where tenants tend to have specific needs, such as the general configuration of the space, wiring and carpeting. Costs in excess of this amount are charged a la carte to tenants.)
(b) Wiring. Wiring is the largest element of the capital costs for a Mini-Smart Building, so it is important to ensure that the costs are allocated fairly. Existing buildings generally have telephone wiring left behind by prior service providers. This wiring is generally sufficient for re-use for telephone service by new tenants. Many existing buildings, however, do not have wiring installed specifically for data, and the left-over telephone wiring often does not conform to modern data wiring standards. The real estate industry, however, is increasingly acknowledging the value of including modern data wiring as a standard component of a building's physical systems. This acknowledgement applies even to buildings that aren't fully "smart", i.e., to buildings that don't aggregate tenant demands and share services. Nevertheless, where data wiring is not currently in place, the building owner should develop a plan to install it.
For buildings under construction where the building owner will be providing services to the tenants, the building owner will generally be responsible for the actual installation of the riser wiring and for the costs of lateral wiring that are included in the building owner's tenant allowance. The landlord should be able to assign the balance of the costs to the tenants.
For buildings under construction in which the building owner will allow a third party to provide services, the building owner may be more able to transfer the wiring costs to the service provider. The service provider, then, will negotiate with the tenant over the issue of who bears the costs (although the tenant may approach the building owner for funding).
For existing buildings, the building owner will have to decide whether to re-wire the building all at once or for individual spaces as tenants move in and out. Re-wiring at once in the middle of the lease terms of tenants will likely result in the building owner incurring the costs of the re-wiring. If the building owner re-wires as tenants move in and out, the owner will be more likely to recover the costs of the re-wiring in the lease negotiations with the new tenants.
For existing buildings where the building owner allows a third party to provide service, the owner may again be able to transfer the costs of the re-wiring to the service provider - although the building owner may need to issue a license agreement to ensure that the necessary grade of wiring is installed. The building owner may, however, have some difficulty persuading the service provider that the higher grade of wiring is required to serve the tenant. The service provider may not believe that the revenues from the new customer will warrant the cost of the new wiring.
A final option designed specifically to encourage service providers to fund the upgrade of a building's wiring infrastructure is the issuance of an exclusive franchise agreement. The grant of an exclusive right to serve a building might be necessary to ensure the service provider that it will garner enough revenues to cover its costs. This option may be required in buildings with small numbers of resource-poor tenants. If the building owner wants to pursue this approach, a franchise agreement should be drafted that requires the provision of certain minimum baseline services, at not-to-exceed price levels and specifies the level of infrastructure the owner desires. (The FCC has adopted a regulation that attempts to restrict the use of exclusive contracts between building owners and service providers. The restriction, however, only applies directly to service providers regulated by the FCC; these are generally common carriers. It does not prohibit exclusive arrangements between ISPs and building owners.)
(c) Network electronics and servers. The electronics for the building network and servers will generally be installed by the service provider - whether the "service provider" is the building owner or service provider. In addition, the service provider will also generally be responsible for the costs of these items - since the electronics will not generally be affixed to the building, the electronics will be movable, and the service provider will remove the equipment whenever the provider ceases to provide service in the building.
4. Funding the recurring costs.
Pricing of services. The big question here is whether the building owner will be able to price the services at a rate that is low enough to be affordable but high enough to recover the owner's costs. The recurring cost analysis in Section F.9 identifies the amounts the building owner must generate each month to cover costs. It does so on a per square foot basis and on a per tenant basis. The analysis shows that the following rental surcharges and average revenues per tenant are required for a building owner to break even on an ongoing basis for various sizes of buildings:
Rental Surcharge Billed Services
The affordability of the rental surcharge depends upon its impact on the total rental charge and how the total charge compares to competing properties. The affordability of the "billed service" approach might be gauged by comparing the building's prices to the prices of commercially available services being marketed to the tenants. Business DSL and cable modem prices typically average approximately $____ and $____ per month, compared to the average monthly revenues of $____, $____ and $_____ that would be charged to users in small, mid-size and large buildings.
Notice that the preceding discussion relates to "average monthly revenues" instead of merely using the term "prices." If the building owner is providing only a single service, e.g., Internet access, at a single price, the "average monthly revenue per customer" will equal the stated "price," and the minimum "price" should equal or exceed the project's average costs. If the building owner is providing a number of services or if various rates will potentially apply based upon the customer's use of a service, a number of assumptions (e.g., on the selection and use of services) must be applied to estimate the likely revenues to be generated from a particular set of prices - and then to determine a minimum level of prices to break even.
[pricing for Internet access based upon use? peak use? pricing for other services?] [how to monitor and police for over-use?]
Whether the building owner wants to earn a profit, in addition to the recovery of its costs, is a further question. The ability to earn a profit will be directly related to the difference between the market prices for retail services sold to the tenants and the prices needed to recover the owner's costs.
Rent vs. tenant bills. The second question is how the building owner issues charges for the services - whether charges are included in tenants' rent or in separate monthly bills. The answer probably depends upon the owner's marketing plans and the competitiveness of the real estate market. Building owners are increasingly recognizing that access to high-bandwidth Internet and networking services helps attract tenants. Where a building owner intends to use access as a marketing device, it may also attempt to package the costs of the service in the tenants' rent. The services would then be included in the lease along with the list of other services, such as electricity and water, that are routinely included in the monthly rent.
The building owner's ability to include the costs in rental charges, however, will hinge on the size of the total square foot rate (inclusive of the Internet charges) compared to lease rates of the owner's competitors. On the other hand, packaging the services into the rent may be a device that's needed to distinguish the owner's building from its competitors.
If the owner decides to issue bills, there may be additional costs. This may not be a substantially increased burden given that building owners regularly issue bills and collect rent. Nevertheless, the building owner needs to consider the additional costs of billing and collection.
5. Will the benefits exceed the costs?
Benefits even if building owner does not share and resell?
Size of building to warrant franchisee risk?
1. Sample wiring survey
2. Sample tenant surveys
3. Structured wiring
4. Network diagram
5. Performance Measurements
7. Equipment needs for buildings of different sizes
8. Examples of capital costs
9. Examples of recurring costs
10. Sample license agreement.
Access point. An electronic component that is connected to a wired network and used to provide access for a number of wireless devices. These devices may be operated at distances of up to several hundred feet from the access point, depending upon details of your building's internal construction.
Address translation. A mechanism for isolating the set of Internet addresses used on a private LAN from address space on the public Internet. This has two functions: (1) It allows you to assign addresses to devices on your network without regard for whether these addresses might have been used outside of your organization; and (2) it hides the addresses of your private devices from external view, which provides an important measure of security for data and services on these devices.
Aggregation. The grouping together of a number of network users, services or devices to facilitate maintenance or provide greater economy in their operation.
Always-on. A network connection that is available 24 hours a day without the need to reconnect each time the service is required. Such connections are essential for any function meant to serve an external audience, such as Web servers or publicly shared databases.
As-built. Drawings that show the actual construction of a facility, as opposed to the original architect's plans, which may not have been followed in construction or may have been modified after construction.
Backbone. The primary distribution path for a network, sometimes known as a trunk (following telephone company terminology). Your building's backbone should have enough capacity to meet the simultaneous needs of all your building tenants.
Bandwidth. A measure of network capacity or traffic, typically expressed in numbers of bits per second. Commonly used units to describe bandwidth are Kbps (thousands of bits per second), Mbps (millions of bits per second) or Gbps (billions of bits per second).
Burstable. A network service that can provide temporary access to bandwidth much higher than the average bandwidth being used. This is useful to initiate audio or video services or to transfer individual large files across the network.
Cable modem. A device used to connect to the high-speed Internet service offered by many cable television companies and provided over newer cable systems.
Category 5E. A classification of twisted pair copper wiring. This represents an evolution of older telephone standards and is adequate for networks carrying up to 100 Mbps of traffic.
Category 6. A classification of twisted pair copper wiring. This represents an evolution of older telephone standards and is adequate for networks carrying up to 1,000 Mbps (= 1 Gbps) of traffic.
Central closet. The room in which external network connections are made and from which the building's network traffic is distributed. Typically this will be a ventilated room with several electrical outlets and space for one or more equipment racks.
Closet. A space separated from other building functions and reserved for telephone, electrical or data network needs.
Conduit. Tubing through which cabling may be pulled to provide electrical, telephone or data network services.
Congestion. That situation in which network traffic begins to exceed network capacity. In a congested environment data packets may be delayed or lost. Users will notice slow response times or failures to connect with some services.
Connectivity. Network links from one point to another.
Copper. Wiring adequate for short-haul or low-speed network connections. Most household telephone service, for example, is provided by copper wiring.
Data packet. The elemental unit of data transmitted across the Internet. Each packet contains a source address (where it's coming from), a destination address (where it's going) and a small amount of data. The Internet is fundamentally a distributed communications medium which provides a mechanism to get data packets from their source to their intended destination.
Database. A collection of information that can be accessed on a local machine or across a network.
Dial-up. A network connection initiated in the manner of a telephone call. Typically a low-speed connection, this type of service is distinguished from "always-on" services, which are permanently connected to the network.
DSL. Digital Subscriber Line. A high-speed Internet service offered by telephone companies and provided over existing copper wiring.
Electronics. Devices attached to the network for the purpose of monitoring or routing traffic.
E-mail. The most commonly-used network service, which includes mail servers to originate and receive mail and mail clients that allow individuals to read their mail and compose new messages.
Fiber. A high-speed medium for network communications. Optical fiber is illuminated by modulated lasers and can carry traffic at speeds of up to 10 Gbps over distances of tens of kilometers. Most long-distance network communications is carried by fiber, which is also commonly used for building backbones.
File server. A computer that is attached to the network for the purpose of sharing data files among users across the network.
Firewall. A set of protocols, implemented on a network device for the purpose of protecting resources on an organization's internal network from indiscriminate use by people outside that organization.
Gbps. A unit for measuring network bandwidth: Gigabits per second.
Gigabit. One billion bits. A data rate of one billion bits per second is abbreviated as 1 Gbps. Optical fiber can carry data at this speed or higher.
Headroom. Bandwidth on a network link above average usage and available for individual users to use in short bursts at speeds higher than their average consumption.
Hub. A network device that splits one upstream port into multiple downstream ports. The upstream port may have the same speed as the downstream port or a higher speed to accommodate the aggregated traffic.
Infrastructure. The wiring and electronics that make up the physical components of a network.
Internet Service Provider (ISP). A company that provides high-speed connectivity to the Internet.
Kilobit. One thousand bits. A data rate of one thousand bits per second is abbreviated as 1 Kbps. Dial-up modems can carry data at speeds of up to 56 Kbps.
Latency. The time between a network query and its response. This is a measure of the quality of a network link. Latency measured in tens of milliseconds is good; hundreds of milliseconds is marginal; and thousands of milliseconds is congested.
Lateral run. Wires that carry network traffic from a wiring closet to a desktop or workspace, typically on the same floor of the building as the closet.
Local Area Network (LAN). Traditionally, a local area network refers to the network within one site of one organization's operations. In the mini Smart Building we aggregate traffic from many organizations and speak of the "building LAN" that carries this aggregated traffic.
Local loop. This is a phrase borrowed from the world of telephony. It refers to the connection from the telephone company's central office - and, by extension, from the switching center of an ISP - to the premises of an individual customer. Sometimes this link is also called the "last mile" of the connection. Traditionally it is not a shared connection, which makes it a relatively expensive part of the MAN infrastructure. In the mini Smart Building approach, the local loop is shared by all building tenants, reducing the cost to any one tenant.
Manageable. Capable of being monitored and adjusted from a distance. Manageable hubs and switches are more expensive than devices lacking this feature, but they will be much easier to operate, since they will rarely require any direct attention. They also provide valuable data on the functioning of your network.
Mbps. A unit for measuring network bandwidth: Megabits per second.
Megabit. One million bits. A data rate of one million bits per second is abbreviated as 1 Mbps. A common data service from telephone companies is a T1 line, typically provisioned over copper and operating at 1.544 Mbps.
Metro Area Network (MAN). That portion of the Internet which covers a city and its environs. A MAN constructed out of fiber will require repeater electronics and can be served from a single office. More commonly there will be multiple hubs - for redundancy and to reduce the length of typical fiber runs.
Monitor. To monitor a networked device is to supervise and adjust its performance remotely. It is important to monitor network traffic to detect intrusions and malfunctions. Manageable devices make this easy to do.
Multi-mode. An older type of fiber, suitable for distances up to 1 kilometer. Interfaces for this type of fiber are inexpensive, so this is a good choice for cabling inside of buildings.
Network traffic. The flow of data packets along a network segment.
Network. A set of connected computers, with electronic devices capable of routing traffic from any one machine to any other.
NOC. Network operations center. A room, often coincident with the central wiring closet, that contains network electronics, on-site servers and network monitoring equipment. The NOC is typically staffed by personnel who monitor network operations and provide on-site user support.
On-site. In the building. On-site services will be more reliable and more accessible than off-site services. On-site user support will be more personal and more readily-available than off-site services. The mini Smart Building model emphasizes on-site services and support.
Outage. An interruption of network service. Any outage of more than a few seconds is cause for alarm, since it is likely to interrupt ongoing work. Your ISP should provide compensation or refunds for outages that exceed some minimum period, typically 30 minutes to an hour.
Outsource. Have an outside vendor take care of a particular task or service.
Overselling. The practice common among ISPs of selling bandwidth downstream whose sum exceeds the provider's available upstream bandwidth. This is possible as long as the downstream customers are not typically using all of the bandwidth nominally allotted to them. A typical factor for modest overselling is 6.
Patch cord. The short length of cable that connects ports on a patch panel to ports on a switch, hub or router.
Patch panel. The point at which building wiring is terminated. The patch panel provides a number of outlets into which you can plug patch cords that connect a particular desktop or workspace outlet with a specific port on a hub, switch or router.
Proprietary. Following a protocol unique to some particular vendor. This contrasts with an "open" standard, where there is a published protocol that any vendor can implement. The Internet itself is a prime example of how well open standards can work.
Raceway. A cable path built into a building, typically suspended from a ceiling, perhaps above a false ceiling.
Rack. A frame that holds patch panels and electronics, typically placed in a wiring closet or machine room.
Rate limiting. The practice of restricting the bandwidth of a particular network connection to some rate less than the physical capacity of that link.
Retrofit. To install some facility, such as a computer network, after other construction has been completed. Retrofitting is invariably more expensive than new construction or inclusion in other remodeling efforts.
RJ-45. A connector commonly used for telephone wiring or connections to a computer network. It can handle up to 8 wires (as is used for network wiring). The equivalent telephone connector handles up to 4 wires, although many telephone services can operate with just two wires.
Router. An electronic device containing some number of interfaces, which can direct incoming network traffic to the appropriate outgoing interface.
Satellite closet. One of several peripheral wiring closets. Typically a building will have one satellite closet on each floor, although a single closet can serve offices on the floors above and below if the floors are not too big.
Satellite switch. The electronic device found in a satellite closet. It splits network services into segments for each building tenant, while insulating the traffic of one tenant from visibility by other tenants.
Single-mode. A type of fiber optic cable designed for long-haul applications and capable of serving facilities separated by tens of kilometers. Single mode fiber can also be used for short-haul applications and may be used for a building backbone, although multi-mode fiber may be cheaper for this application.
Smart Building. A building equipped with a network that maximizes shared infrastructure and thereby allows building tenants access to high-bandwidth services at very economical prices.
SNMP. Simple Network Management Protocol. This is the protocol used in manageable hubs, switches and routers. An SNMP management station can use this protocol to interrogate, monitor and adjust these devices remotely.
Streaming video. A network application in which video programming is transmitted from a video server to a client workstation which immediately displays the video content. This technology, which requires a high-bandwidth network connection to work well, is appropriate for real-time transmissions and the transmissions of lengthy programs, for which a viewer might have a long wait if the entire program had to be transferred before viewing.
Structured wiring. The organization of a building's wiring in a hierarchical manner - with a central closet, building backbone, satellite closets and lateral wiring. This is the approach adopted in the mini Smart Building program.
Support. Technical assistance for network users.
Switch. An electronic device that splits network services into segments for each building tenant, while insulating the traffic of one tenant from visibility by other tenants.
T1. A high-speed (1.544 Mbps) local loop service offered by telephone companies over specially-conditioned copper wires.
Tenant. One of a number of organizations occupying space in an office building.
Traffic exchange. The process of sending data packets from one network to any of another set of networks. Typically a number of ISPs will establish a meeting point where traffic exchange can occur. If no such meeting point exists in your city, network traffic may have to flow over long distances to reach its destination, even if the source and destination are physically nearby.
Unix. An operating system originally developed at AT&T's Bell Labs and now in common use on Internet servers. Current versions of Unix include a number of "open source" options, such as Linux and FreeBSD.
UPS. An Uninterruptible Power Supply. This is basically a battery plus a battery charger. When there are brief fluctuations in your building's electrical power, devices connected through a UPS will continue to operate for as long as the UPS's battery is functional. In addition to allowing your network services to weather brief power fluctuations, a UPS will protect your equipment from surges in your building's power.
Upstream. In the direction of the Internet. Thus a central closet is upstream of a satellite closet, and your ISP is upstream of your building. Data packets flow upstream when servers in your building provide services to people outside of your building.
User. Anyone making use of network services. Your users include all people in your building who make use of any device connected to your building's network.
Web server. A popular type of network service that can provide users with text files, pictures, sounds and video clips.
Wide Area Network (WAN). A network that extends over large regions of territory, whether across a city, across the country or around the world.
Wi-Fi. A popular form of wireless network communication, typically operating at 11 Mbps.
Wireless. Network connectivity via radio. Common network technologies, such as Wi-Fi, operate at speeds of 11 Mbps or higher.