The True Power of Power over Ethernet (PoE)

FACT: Today, PoE ports represent one quarter of all enterprise Ethernet ports. As with any evolving technology, its true worth to business must be weighed as it ultimately determines its long term success. Not being a spring chicken myself, this is not unlike the days of Frame Relay. Though it was slow to be adopted, it became a big hit until newer technology offerings became available- like MPLS (Multi Protocol Label Switching). I digress.

PoE is very much the same thing, but with much farther reaching potential. In a nutshell, PoE is where low voltage DC power is pushed over a CAT5E or better Ethernet cable. As many of you know, pins 1, 2, 3, & 6 are used for Ethernet data transmission. Pins 4 & 5 are blank so as to not conflict with someone plugging in a legacy phone line RJ11 plug into an RJ45 jack and blowing up an expensive network switch. Power of PoE goes over pins 7 & 8, aka THE BROWN PAIR .This prevents you from having to run electrical outlets to every device, as the power comes over the Ethernet cable. The costs savings here can be quite substantial.

Understanding the standards and options is key here as you may already have some PoE switches, but they may be older. It is important to know their capability before buying equipment. Older switches simply cannot power the newer and higher demand PoE devices due to their lower wattage restriction.

802.3af is the original 2003 standard that supplies up to 15. Watts of DC power, though only about 12.5 watts is assured.

802.3at aka PoE+ is the current standard and takes it up to 30W (25 adjusted for power loss). With the greater power, many more applications are possible!

As with any Ethernet cable run, the standard 300 foot distance limitation applies here as well.

PoE Devices. Although the most common uses for PoE today are for IP phones and wireless access points, this this is a rapidly expanding field. There is significant growth in the areas of surveillance, which includes encompassing video up to HD standards and building access control. Rounding off some of the current PoE device offerings includes digital signage, IP paging, school clock systems, video phones and many others. New devices will emerge being able to utilize PoE power thus creating a more powerful and useful network. Simply put, this is where were headed. So, when looking to move and re-cable, you may want to rethink where to add cable drops as to ensure you don’t fall short and have to end up paying for expensive  piecemeal cabling to fill your needs.

PoE switches. A number of outfits make these switches, including the likes of Juniper, HP, Cisco and many others. Our favorite switch is Juniper’s EX3300 series for a number of reasons. First, the price point is attractive. Second, it has “virtual chassis technology”. What this means is that the virtual switch (made up of many physical switches) only uses one IP address and all switches within the virtual switch can be viewed in a single interface, greatly simplifying management. Another benefit here is that individually, these are all 1U (1.75”) units that will make it simple to swap out old switches and put in new switches without having to re-manage patch cables. Finally, we love the DAC cable because for $100, it gives you a sweet 10Gb interface to other switches that are close and to servers that adhere to the SFP DAC standard so you don’t have to use fiber to get 10Gb within the same room. It’s a win-win as the DAC cable saves cost and is less fragile than fiber.

In summary, if you’re changing out your data switches, consider popping for a few extra dollars to go for PoE to future-proof your dollars and being to save even more downstream.

 

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Roundbrix is Hosting an AVAYA IP Office Demonstration . . . and feeding you!

To me, there’s nothing like “seeing is believing”. I’ve been in telecom and computers, well, let’s put it this way. When I was a kid, I used to go to Thrifty’s drug store and test my vacuum tubes to see which one had failed so I could get my Zenith shortwave radio working again to listen to Chick Hearn in his early years – and I digress.

 

Flash forward, I have been in IT 30 years and we’re all over what is new. But newer is not always better, as so many of us have learned. The key in entertaining any new voice technology platform is asking a few simple questions:

 

Is what we have now at or near “end of life”, meaning we’re looking at a replacement anyways?

Is it better than what we have now, and if so how? Will it help us be more efficient in a tangible manner?

• What if we don’t do anything, what might be the downsides?

• If I get this, will it scale for my needs for many years downstream?

• Does it have a useful life of more than 5 years, thus lessening my annual total cost of ownership?

 

Then I put on my IT and voice hat and ask a few other questions:

 

• Can I get the best of both worlds – that is less expensive digital phones inside and VoIP for remote sites or remote users and the

functionality is basically the same for both?

• Can I leverage existing CAT3 cabling so I can use the CAT5e for data at 1Gbit (as although some IP phones have 1Gbit switch, they

come at a cost premium)?

• As handsets tend to be about half of the hardware cost, can I leverage any of my existing handsets so I can upgrade the ‘core’ now,

and handsets later to hedge costs?

• Can I use packet-tagging if using VoIP so I don’t have to create VLANs?

• Can it “follow me” so it stays current with my mobile world?

• Does it integrate into my Microsoft environment and have functionality such as Unified Messaging?

• Are the phones full duplex so they don’t cut out while on speakerphone?

• Does it have conference bridge ability and automatically adjust levels so everyone can be heard?

• Can it use remote IP phones in a widely distributed environment of both remote sites and individual users?

 

Lastly, I have an additional consideration for those contemplating or in process of moving. If you are moving, is your money to move your phone system better spent on a new one? Remember, to move the phone system you’ll have to pay cash, but when buying a new system even the labor can be bundled into the lease, so your out-of-pocket during the expense of the move can be reduced, at least on the voice end.

 

So being an authorized AVAYA IP Office Reseller, we figured the best way for you to know if this is something you might want or need, is to tell you about it, show it to you, and feed you to limit your out-of-pocket time!

 

To attend, please RSVP to Shani Griffis at 949 273 5220 or shanigriffis@roundbrix.com . We have limited space so please reply promptly to ensure a spot!