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Aiming for Quality in Technology Investments, Part 2

By James Carlini | Apr 15, 2016
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As I wrote in Part I of this article: “There is no such thing as a new $5,000 Rolls-Royce. If you want the quality, the engineering and the performance, you need to pay for it. Good intelligent infrastructure is no different.”

Conversely, There is no such thing as a $5,000 Formula 1 Yugo. If you only have $5,000, you cannot have expectations of getting a car that will consistently perform 0–60 at 2.4 seconds. Speed, reliability and performance cost money. Good intelligent infrastructure is no different.

In Part 1, I discussed a broader, more objective approach to reviewing and comparing technology on 12 criteria instead of just one: Price. These 12 criteria become more important when we start looking at complex technology needed to build and maintain mission-critical applications. With regular applications and mission-critical applications, we need to understand the costs and the benefits of designing and implementing them with the proper amount of resources. The total price goes up when we add reliability and redundancy as key components to create a more resilient system. Any cabling or wiring system should not be viewed as expenses within the construction of the building or business campus but more of an investment to attract and maintain a higher caliber of corporate tenant within the building and/or business campus.

Applying some of the quality concepts

In February, I spoke at the Building Technology Integration Conference in the Metro Detroit area. Members from NECA and the IBEW were there.

There was also a diverse group of contractors who specialized in various products from lighting and dimming systems to cabling, testing and control systems. We discussed the new demands for products and integrated systems. I emphasized the need to not go cheap on solutions and integrated systems, but to cover the importance of quality and resiliency in all installations.

If you install a quality system, you are going to have less headaches with that customer across the life of the system. The same benefit applies to the customer’s perspective as well. No one wants to constantly be calling about a system that isn’t working well or some component that is constantly failing.

Systems integrators and contractors need to steer their customers away from the single criteria of price and to the broader perspective of looking at and assessing a dozen criteria that are all important to the overall design and implementation of their infrastructure. More need to adopt this new approach if they want to make money in today’s competitive markets.

As we near the year 2020, which is supposed to be the pivotal year where many applications of the Internet of Things (IoT) appear and we experience the impact of next-generation 5G networks, we need to provide a resilient intelligent infrastructure that can handle over 50 billion wireless devices. This is not going to be easy and many are still not working hard to attain these goals. It’s less than a half decade away.

Some predictions are lower as to the amount of wireless devices connected by 2020 (30 billion devices), some are higher (Morgan-Stanley predicts 75 billion).

Whatever number we chose, it is much larger than the current 10 billion devices we have today. This means there needs to be a lot of work done in broadening and upgrading the infrastructure to handle this increased growth in devices, not to mention the increased traffic due to new applications. Some of these applications, which will be video-based and require large amounts of bandwidth, have yet to be fully implemented into today’s networks.

If you are in installation, there should be numerous opportunities in the market to utilize your services to increase the capacity of cabling within a building (See chart 1).

Mission critical means no single point of failure

Some may disagree with me, but if you have mission-critical applications, you should also have redundant pathways for both power and broadband connectivity. You cannot support mission-critical applications with single connections to power and communications. Based on that definition, most buildings are technologically obsolete. They need to be upgraded so that they have two separate sources for power and two separate pathways to different central offices for network services.

Spending the right amount on components needed to build out these redundant networks and grid capabilities is not cheap. As I said in my presentation in Detroit, “There is no fire sale on quality.”

About The Author

James Carlini, MBA, is a strategist for mission-critical networks, technology and intelligent infrastructure. He has been the president of Carlini & Associates since 1986. He is author of "LOCATION LOCATION CONNECTIVITY," a visionary book on the convergence of next-generation real estate, intelligent infrastructure, technology, and the global platform for commerce.

His “Platform for Commerce” definition of infrastructure and its impact on economic growth has also been referred to by the US ARMY Corps of Engineers in their Handbook, “Infrastructure and the Operational Art.” (2014)

His firm has been involved with applying advanced business practices, planning and designing mission critical network infrastructures for three decades.

He served as an award-winning adjunct faculty member at Northwestern University’s Executive Masters and undergraduate programs for two decades (1986-2006).  He has been the keynote speaker at national and international conferences.

He also appears in civil and federal courts as well as public utilities commission hearings as an expert witness in mission critical networks, network infrastructure and cabling issues.

He began his career at Bell Telephone Laboratories (real-time software engineering), AT&T (technical marketing & enterprise-wide network design support for major clients) and Arthur Young (now Ernst & Young, Director of Telecommunications & Computer Hardware consulting).

Contact him at [email protected] or 773-370-1888. Follow daily Carlini-isms at www.twitter.com/jamescarlini.

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