When starting a new branch office, don't forget the wiring

Remote administration won't take you far if you can't keep the packets flowing

One of the most overlooked aspects of remote-office builds is the wiring. Servers, racks, power, and cooling should top the list, but never assume that the building’s wiring is up to par. Many corporate office parks have been around since the days of Cat 3 cabling and are still using that copper for in-building transit, demarc extensions, and even LAN connections within office suites. Obviously, you’re not going to be happy with network performance if every patch panel is Cat 3, although you can ride phones on it if you must.

When inspecting a potential new office, take a close look at the wiring plant within the space itself, and bring along a solid tester such as a Fluke OneTouch to determine whether the wiring is in good shape. If it’s not, make the poor wiring a bargaining chip with the building owner.

During the inspection also be on the lookout for the location of the building’s main wiring demarc, as well as the length of any demarc extensions to your offices. Most office buildings have a central demarc that serves as the main termination point for any fiber and TDM circuits run to the building. From there, the copper circuits may run through conduit to the office suites. If this is the case, make sure that this wiring will support new service. A bad demarc extension can wreak all kinds of havoc with functional service delivery and inevitably lead to finger-pointing sessions between the ISP, telco, and your IT staff. Problems such as these will soon have you reaching for the antacid, so make sure you know what’s in the walls before you sign the lease.