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For immediate release - 28 November 2003

Facilities Management v Information Technology - A Conflict of Space

A battle of priorities is going on in the many new build and major office refurbishment projects across the UK. The two protagonists are Facilities Managers and IT Managers and the issue is space, says cabling infrastructure specialist, Siemon.

Siemon's VP of Global Operations, John Siemon explains, "For most office-based companies, especially those based in the high rent zones of the south east, allocation of space is critical as every square metre has to be used in the most cost-effective way. At the same time, businesses rely on effective IT and communication systems that operate flawlessly and allow employees to move large amounts of data around the globe."

He adds, "Unfortunately, these two essential business needs can conflict and create a battle of priorities between Facilities Managers and IT Managers who may have different views on the amount of floor space required to house cabling racks and IT equipment."

At a basic level, each workstation typically requires a minimum of two cables to connect the computer and the telephone. If an organisation has hundreds of workstations and other IT and telecommunications equipment, it will require a large enough space to house the cabling hub that connects it all together.

For the Facilities Manager, this potentially means losing an area of floor space, which could otherwise be filled with workstations. Conversely, the IT Manager's priority will be to have a large enough area to be able to easily access and maintain cabling and the equipment to which it connects.

To help solve this issue, there are international standards that provide guidelines and requirements that cover telecommunications space. One such standard is ISO/IEC 18010, entitled "Information technology - Pathways and spaces for customer premises cabling". Another standard TIA/EIA-569-A contains requirements on how much space should be allocated for these purposes. This provides a guideline that 0.07 m2 of equipment room space should be provided for every 10 m2 of work area space. Another useful reference is the BICSI Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual. Although compliance to the requirements stated in these documents is voluntary, they provide an excellent resource for planning and provisioning this type of space. If the potential exists of ever selling the building or providing rented office space, these guidelines can, in fact, increase the value of the property to any new owner or tenant if properly followed.

In addition to the governing standards, the solution is one of managing expectations and demands on both sides. It is timely for both sides to take note of the top ten issues to be considered - from both an IT and an FM perspective.

Facilities Management should remember:

  • Equipment has to be easily accessible and removable - and you need to be able to reach right to the back of the racks! Equipment must have room for air to circulate or overheating will shorten the lifespan of the electronics.
  • Think about lighting considerations - some IT staff will be spending sizeable amounts of time in the communications area - so it needs to be as well lit and comfortable as work station zones.
  • Inadequate or awkward spaces may put stresses on cabling - which will reduce their life expectancy and performance. Similarly, space that is too close to power distribution will cause EMI problems. The overall space allocated for communications equipment has to comply with cabling industry standards and provide sufficient clearances for electronic.
  • Unless there is adequate space between the racks and walls or other equipment, there is a danger of falling foul of health and safety regulations if space restrictions make emergency evacuation difficult.

IT Management needs to consider:

  • Space costs money - current commercial property prices come in at a national average of £269 per square metre, but rise to an average £753 in London's West End.
  • Security - there may be location constraints created by the need to adequately secure the equipment.
  • Flexibility of work area - demands change and the system needs to be flexible enough to cope with increases in numbers of workstations or changes in the usage of rooms - from offices to meeting rooms for example and adding new services such as video.
  • Where a secure location has already been provided, consider using space saving equipment racks as an alternative to bulky cabinets. Not only do these take up considerably less floor space but they also demand less environmental considerations such as lighting and air conditioning.
  • Look for high-density options, such as small form factor fibre connectors, and angled patch panels to reduce the amount of rack space required.

"There is a strong financial reason for both sides to agree on the best solution," adds Siemon. "Unless the spaces used for cabling and related equipment are designed and provisioned with these considerations in mind there will be negative consequences on performance, useable life and the ease with which changes are carried out. Also, product and system warranties may not cover problems associated with insufficient space planning. This means getting the location or allocation of telecommunications space wrong could be a very expensive and time-consuming to correct."

NOTES TO EDITORS:

The Siemon Company - www.siemon.co.uk

Siemon, founded in the USA in 1903, is a proven global technology leader in the design and manufacture of standards-based structured cabling systems and components.

Headquartered in Watertown, Connecticut, Siemon today has 20 offices in 12 countries. Its EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) regional headquarters are located in Woking in Surrey, UK.

Siemon's structured cabling systems include the full range of Cat 5e to proposed Cat 7 copper connectivity solutions as well as fibre optics alongside a full offering of supporting passive technology. It provides individually tailored turn-key installations for multi-site and multinational customers in retail, commercial, industrial, government and residential markets.

The company is also a world leader in research and development of cabling technology and is an active participant in current and future international cabling standard setting bodies.

Siemon holds ISO9001, 9002 and 14001 accreditation and its Certified Installer Training Course attracts points towards BICSI RCDD accreditation.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Susannah Hines
Hallmark Public Relations
+44 (0)1962 863850
susannah.hines@hallmarkpr.co.uk


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