There’s no margin for error when building a new IT environment. Fixing critical mistakes or oversights is costly so we’ve developed a highly systemized process to avoid oversights and architecture mistakes. Ideally, we’re brought in at the beginning before prints are approved but often times, that’s not the case. As long as the construction process isn’t too far along, we’re able to add, delete, and change as needed.
STEP 1: THE WISH LIST
Clients always have a wish list and we’re here to make it happen. We’ll take a close look and help you revise your list to the equipment you need and want that fits into your budget. HINT: There’s a lot of equipment you don’t know you need unless you’re an IT Pro so leave at least 20% of your IT budget for items you don’t know about.
STEP 2: CONSULTATION WITH THE ARCHITECT
Most architects don’t have a background in network engineering. It’s not reasonable to think they’ll know where to place the IT rooms, how large they should be, and their climate control needs. Improper positioning of the IT rooms can lead to unnecessary expenses in cabling and equipment. How about noise and heat? Conduit runs? Where will you need conduit running inside the slab? HINT: Don’t let an architect or electrician tell you to run network cabling in the same conduit as high voltage wiring. Network and other low voltage cable should run in its own conduit.
STEP 3: LOW VOLTAGE ARCHITECTURE
The architect put the rooms in the right spots and we identified any major hurdles that needed solved at the structural level. Now we lay everything out. We take the drawings and place network switches, firewalls, wifi access points, data ports, cameras, access control equipment, and any other low voltage cabling needed. Next, we consult with the architect and electrician to communicate any electrical needs, reinforced walls, HVAC, and conduit runs. HINT: Our experience has shown us that wifi access points only accommodate about 50% of what they advertise. If you would have 100 people in your building at any one time, you need enough access points to service 200 people by the manufacturer numbers. ANOTHER HINT: Data ports will depend on furniture placement. Don’t be hard and fast with placing some of these just yet.
STEP 3: CALCULATE COSTS
We’re finally at a point where we will know how much everything costs. We add all equipment, the cost to run the cable, and IT installation labor and come up with a number. In general, the higher the ceiling, the higher the labor cost. If you’re looking for an approximate cost, a 3,500 square foot building with drop ceilings will cost between $4,000 and $7,000 for cabling and networking equipment. All other equipment–computers, cameras, copiers, etc., will be an added cost.
STEP 4: ROUGH IN
We have cabling experts that will run all cable and prepare it to support your network. You may also use your own installers but beware: Somebody needs to be hands-on with the cabling process. You need somebody watching their work or you may end up with problems later. HINT: For offices with furniture, tell the cablers to leave enough extra so they can run the cable to a certain place once furniture location is decided on. They can keep the extra cable coiled in the ceiling for now.
STEP 5: INSTALLATION OF EQUIPMENT
First: Do not allow equipment to be installed until the building is nearly 100% dust free. We’ve seen equipment damaged from the fans pulling in construction dust. We will configure all equipment off site before installation so we can wait as long as possible for the building to become dust free. The installation process normally takes about 1 week for an average sized office building but could take much longer depending on the complexity. HINT: Make sure your network installer has high level knowledge of advanced networking. Many installers do not. Do you want a guest with a modest degree of computer knowledge to have access to your office computers? Without the use of VLANS and other advanced configuration, you’re opening yourself up to security risks.
STEP 6: TUNING
Think of a network like a person. When they’re really young, the smallest issues (or no issue at all) might cause a meltdown but as they mature, they’re more stable and can function without much supervision. Networks are the same way. We’ll remotely keep a close eye on your new installation as part of the warranty that comes with our service. Long before your warranty expires, your network will be running beautifully.
STEP 5: ONGOING SERVICE
All equipment runs into issues either through human error, acts of God like lightning or power surges, or just normal wear and tear. We suggest an ongoing maintenance agreement. We offer a special rate to buildings we install but our plans are available to any business.