How structured cabling saved water in Queensland

Queensland's Department of Natural Resources and Water has recabled its Rockhampton data centre.

The Queensland Government's Department of Natural Resources and Water (NRW) plays a critical role in the stewardship of Queensland's natural resources. The Department manages and allocates the State's land and water resources; it manages native vegetation and the use and sale of native forest resources as well as being responsible for managing the control of pest plants and animals. NRW's vision is for 'enhanced community benefit through sustainable natural resource management'.

NRW works very closely with key government and industry stakeholders, client groups, Indigenous people and the community. It has discrete planning and management responsibilities for these natural resources. It is essential that NRW has the most up-to-date, reliable and fast communications network possible to allow information to be shared quickly and securely so that important decisions can be made swiftly. Recently, NRW in Rockhampton faced three key issues that necessitated a major upgrade in its communication infrastructure.

Firstly, the Department's data centre at the Rockhampton office was located in a cupboard in the middle of the office building. This location was outside of NRW's tenancy and hence posed a major security risk. NRW needed to move the data centre into its own server room, which would make authorised access easier but would restrict unauthorised access.

Secondly, the old data racks were overloaded with cables, making the rack so untidy that the Department couldn't trace a cable back to either the data or the switch end. Because of the mess, NRW was finding it increasingly difficult and time consuming to maintain its phones and data.

Thirdly, NRW needed to upgrade its old Category 5e cabling to the more advanced Category 6 cabling. This would allow the Department to increase its network speed to one gigabit when network switches are upgraded in the near future, creating a much faster network capable of accommodating the large loads that would be placed on it by current and emerging technologies.

Once the decision was made to embark on an upgrade project, NRW's regional IT officer in Rockhampton, Bob Godin, enlisted the help of the Department's network support team in Brisbane, Office Technology Services (OTS). NRW required a structured cabling solution that would be neat and easy to maintain, provide patch-by-exception functionality and include an upgrade to Category 6 cabling.

OTS had dealt with many such projects in the past, and wasted no time in recommending ADC Krone's HighBand 25 cross connect solution. "OTS had used the ADC Krone HighBand 25 solution with Category 6 cabling many times before and found it to be very sound, so we knew it would be right for us," says Godin. "By relying on Network Support's previous experience we could eliminate the time-consuming evaluation process and go straight to working directly with ADC Krone."

ADC Krone's HighBand 25 cross connect solution allows for maximum throughput beyond one gigabit. The upgrade from category 5e to Category 6 cabling will enable faster data transfer and improved network performance. The solution's modular design allows it to be easily expanded after installation if required.

NRW's Rockhampton solution includes four wall-mounted frames in the server room, accommodating patch and tie cables for approximately 350 data and phone ports. Its telephones now come from a room on the ground floor of the building to the server room on Level 1, making it very easy to add new lines or repatch existing ones.

NRW worked closely with premier TrueNet integrators, Keppel Coast Communication, throughout the project, ensuring a smooth installation with minimal disruption to users.

Six months after making the initial decision to install ADC Krone's HighBand 25 solution, the new infrastructure was up and running. The benefits were apparent immediately.

"At this stage the main benefits are for the IT team. We used to shudder when a user wanted to relocate his or her phone, but now it's an easy task," says Godin. "We also now have plenty of room for expansion - we have two switches cabled up and completely free, as well as 20 or 30 telephone connections. Thanks to the ADC Krone solution, we have drastically reduced the amount of time it takes to manage moves, adds and changes.

"In two years' time, our users will begin to see major benefits from this project because that's when we'll move to gigabit switches. That will allow us to realise a big jump in LAN speeds," he said.

The Department in Rockhampton can now maintain its data and telephone systems in a secure, upgradeable and technologically advanced manner - something it could not do prior to implementing the ADC Krone HighBand 25 solution.

"We even had a couple of unexpected benefits," says Godin. "The installers found some old Category 5e cables that had been joined or soldered, and some that were resting directly on power cables. This was a huge fire hazard that has now been removed, but we wouldn't have known about it if not for this project."

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