Asia's Source for Enterprise Network Knowledge

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Digital Infrastructure Of Things

How intelligent networks drive smart, profitable enterprises

In February 2019, CNBC’s "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer declared a fundamental shift in what are long deemed "safe" investments on Wall Street. “Digital technology has become so essential," he said. "Companies can fail if they don't stay current with the best network possible.” 

Cramer’s opinion is fitting given that today’s digital-first enterprises are highly connected. They would typically thrive in intelligent buildings that use the IT network to manage and control all systems including HVAC, lighting, security and communications. According to Navigant Research, the global intelligent buildings market is expected to grow from $3.6 billion in 2017 to $10.2 billion by 2026.

These digital buildings are built on a foundation of network convergence, automated systems, sensors, Power over Ethernet (PoE), and the burgeoning internet of things (IoT). 

Converging building systems control onto an intelligent, open-systems architecture makes it possible to implement policies that enhance building efficiency and effectiveness and to respond efficiently and quickly to changing business requirements. 

The advantages of an intelligent building extend beyond energy savings and optimized building operations to satisfying customer experience and higher employee productivity.To realize these advantages, structured cabling is needed to combine the interconnected systems with the ability to gather actionable data and develop analytics. Cabling connects a wide range of endpoint devices and sensors. 

For example, lights and ventilation automatically adjust based on the number of people in the room. Lighting and data connections are activated and set to preferences of someone who enters the room via the access control badge scanner. Sensor readings provide information on available meeting rooms. Sensor information can also be harnessed to improve indoor air quality and maximize comfort. Put simply, these systems and sensors help create flexible, healthy and conducive work spaces. 

Business-empowering buildings

The connected ‘things’ forming the IoT and pervasive cloud adoption are blurring the line between traditional operational technology (OT) systems and IT systems. The convergence of these systems has enabled businesses to eliminate inefficiencies, leverage on interoperability, facilitate automation, and accelerate innovation.

Instead of working in isolation, IT and facilities operations and management teams can capitalize on cross-discipline capabilities, collaborate and align their goals and efforts to fulfill business objectives such as cost savings, customer service improvement, and cyber security. Building owners also benefit from tenant satisfaction and retention.

The IT and facilities managers can jointly address critical challenges in managing corporate facilities such as the commercial building, manufacturing floor, warehouse, remote sites, and data center. Apart from ensuring a productive and collaborative work environment, they can fulfill corporate sustainability goals, including energy reduction, capacity planning and equipment life-cycle-management. 

Again, accurate sensor- and systems-generated data are converted into useable information to enable smart decision-making. For example, a building automation system running on a converged physical infrastructure can monitor, manage and control water, gas, electricity metering, heating, ventilation, air conditioning equipment, lighting, surveillance, security, digital signage, and fire safety. 

These disparate systems cannot operate in silos. Enterprises must adopt a Converged Physical Infrastructure approach to connect, manage and automate the systems in an optimized way that reduce OpEx and CapEx, deliver complete visibility of key operational data, and enable sustainable, energy-efficient facilities.

Open to success

To this end, Panduit leverages an intelligent, open-systems architecture based on a common IP network that is home to the building systems. Structured cabling is the foundation of that IP network, delivering not only voice and data but also power to the digital building.

Open systems enhance scalability and flexibility. Disparate control systems, sensors and devices can be easily connected to co-exist and interact with IP-based technologies. Migrating all systems to an IP network allows for automation, optimized assets, risk management, and easy moves, adds and changes that lower cost of operations. Further, PoE powering makes it easy to install, expand, and optimize these systems without additional wiring because both data and power are delivered via the same low-voltage Ethernet cable.

Using mobile devices, facility operators can manage and control systems any time and anywhere while tenants and building owners can create an environment most conducive to individual employees. They can control services such as audio/video, digital signage, irrigation, scheduling, and specialty systems such as nurse call, classroom communication and campus alerts.

IT and facilities teams can share data on occupancy, space usage, temperature, and more, to ensure a productive and enjoyable working environment. Further, security systems not only interconnect cameras, recording devices, monitors, access control, and intrusion sensors but also tie in building management, lighting, or point-of-sale systems.

Panduit and its partners leverage the open architecture of the Converged Physical Infrastructure to realize tangible infrastructure and business process improvements in support of mission-critical operations. This way, an enterprise would always stay with the best network possible.

This is a QuestexAsia feature commissioned by Panduit.