By Billy Sander
Recent advancements in business computing are changing how facilities professionals
evaluate network performance, and, consequently, data cabling costs.
For years, downtime - complete network failure - was the problem. IT professionals
concentrated their efforts on keeping networks up and running. However, with
new bandwidth-hungry applications such as PeopleSoft and Lotus Notes, facilities
professionals are becoming increasingly concerned with slowtime - sluggish,
inefficient network performance.
The time employees spend glaring at their monitors - waiting for the hourglass
and progress bar - costs companies money. These scattered seconds and minutes
spent in LAN limbo add up quickly. Just 10 minutes a day spent waiting can account
for an entire work week lost, per employee, every year. Slowtime is a major
concern, but until recently, measuring the financial impact of this inefficiency
was very difficult.
Using a Slowtime Calculator - log on to Anixter's website (www.anixter.com)
- users simply enter all of the following information:
• Total number of employees on the network.
• The combined average salary.
• Total estimated amount of time that employees lose to lagging computers.
• A company's total annual revenues.
The calculator then computes the amount of money potentially lost as a result
of computer slowtime. This information helps IT managers accurately evaluate
costs when constructing their network. It can also be used to justify upgrades
in building infrastructures by comparing the cost of installation with the estimated
total cost of sluggish systems.
Facilities professionals should keep in mind that cable routes and installation
methods also affect network efficiency. Data lines can be hindered by extreme
temperatures, humidity, and by interference from high-frequency radios. But
these external factors are not the only culprits in slow transmissions.
A surprising fact, even to many network managers, is that the cable itself
and the components in a channel account for up to 50 percent of the problems
within any network. Studies done at the UL-certified Anixter Levels Lab®
have shown that all of the components and the cable in a channel must be properly
matched for optimal performance. Anixter has conducted studies over several
years and has proven that not all cables rated under the same industry standards
are equal. In fact, just putting in a minimally compliant cable - like Cat 5e
- can have a significantly negative impact on most networks.
Building owners and facilities professionals need to evaluate their existing
systems before making the investment to upgrade. Taking the time to calculate
how much computer slowtime is costing your company is the first step to improving
your system's performance.
Billy Sander is marketing manager at Skokie, IL-based Anixter Inc., a leading
distributor of data communications products.