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Standardizing Stanford's Infrastructure
Stanford University installs a high-speed network in their new clinical research facility as well as revamping the entire campus wiring.

By Carol Everett Oliver

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Stanford Hospitals and Clinics (Stanford, California) are renowned for their progressive medical research and subsequent successful life-enhancing treatments. Throughout their century-long history they have pioneered medical advancements to save lives and protect from diseases. One of the most famous accolades of this teaching hospital is that they performed the first successful adult human heart transplant in the country and the first combined heart-lung transplant in the world. To expand their research studies and to bring together leading scientists, Stanford recently built a new Center for Clinical Science Research, known as the CCSR.

When planning for the CCSR, they wanted to incorporate the most technological advancements for this research facility. They required a highly sophisticated telecommunications infrastructure that could handle their myriad of applications from real-time full-motion video transmission between instructors and labs, as well as high-speed data research and transfer. Their planned configuration included a switched 10baseT/100baseT network with telecommunication closets utilizing gigabit Ethernet connection.

While reviewing the many products and systems available, they were also looking for a system that could enhance their current standard to be incorporated in other new and existing facilities on their campus. Their standard, combining fiber and copper for the backbone was utilized. To provide high-speed data and voice to each lab and office, they selected Helix/HiTemp Category 5e cabling and Leviton Telecom connectivity products for a total end-to-end solution.

Back In The CCSR
Creating and using technology that will break through barriers and uncover new scientific knowledge are key aspects of the Stanford Medical School's research mission. On-campus are 47 different lab research groups scattered through the medical facilities and in the two hospitals - Children's and Stanford Medical Center.

The CCSR, which was designed in 1996 and will be completed by summer of this year, focuses on consolidating all their biomedical researchers into one location. This facility is two mirror image four-story buildings connected by a bridge and an open-air atrium. The buildings total 220,000 square feet of administration, faculty support offices, a computer learning room, and wet and dry labs including cadaver research.

"This is a first class sophisticated research facility," states Bob Moya RCDD, a Sr. Project Engineer for the Communication and Networking Services department. "When we designed this facility, we reviewed many networking systems and products to make sure it could easily handle high bandwidth applications. We knew we had to install a networking system that could also handle applications in the future without becoming quickly obsolete.

From Backbones to Dry Bones
After reviewing many of the cabling and connectivity products, Stanford selected a variety of cabling media - fiber, twisted pair copper and even coax.. SuperCAT360, enhanced Category 5e UTP (unshielded twisted pair) cables from Helix/HiTemp Cables (Franklin, MA) for the data and voice cable plant for the 6,000 horizontal drops. The backbone / riser consisted of Category 3 for voice, and fiber for data. Fiber optic cable, consisting of 24 multimode/12 singlemode, was placed in the riser. In some instances, multimode fiber was brought to the desk. Coax cable, which was a .500 hardline, was provided for video and broadband transmission. Walker Communications (Livermore, CA) was the selected vendor for the entire telecommunications cabling system.

The main telecommunications room is located in the basement of the North Building. Each of the four floors in both complexes house a telecommunications closet, also known as an ICC (intermediate cross connect). There are four ICCs in each building, totaling eight for the entire facility. The voice cable is terminated on 110 blocks for both the riser and station cables. The fiber optic cable backbone is terminated into the fiber termination splice boxes and jumpered to an Extreem Networks 10/100 switch with gigabit uplink capability. From there, the cable is then patched to the Leviton Telcom GigaMax™ System's 48-port patch panel, which provides Category 5e channel performance and horizontal connectivity from the closet to the workstation outlets. The horizontal cable, Category 5e, which is installed in cable tray, is terminated into the Leviton Telcom GigaMax™ TSOs (telecommunication station outlets) at the workstation locations.

There is close to one million feet of cable within the facilities. Of that, 900,000 feet of Helix/HiTemp's SuperCAT360, plenum cable was pulled to provide horizontal voice and data to each workstation outlet. "Although Moya specified Category 5e as the main data and voice cable, the standards for that cable had not yet been finalized. Moya knew that Stanford wanted the latest in cable technology since it's performance needed to be guaranteed for reliability for today and tomorrow's applications.

"The SuperCAT360 exceeds the TIA/EIA-568B-5, Category 5e requirements and is constructed with four balanced, bi-directional, twisted pairs within a flexible jacket," adds Harry van der Meer, marketing manager for Helix/HiTemp Cables (Franklin, MA). "Not only are these cables suitable for 10 and 100 Mb/s data rates, as required to run their network, but these cables can outperform at 1000Mb/s, more than what Stanford presently needs today but will probably appreciate tomorrow," he adds.

"Because of the variations of the applications for each end user, we wanted to make sure that there was enough voice and data connectivity to each lab and office," states Moya. The wallplates are double gang TSOs (Telecommunication Station Outlets) which allow a total of a combination of up to 12 ports. In most cases two or more were left blank for fiber and future upgrades. Typically, most of the office locations were terminated with ten Helix/HiTemp SuperCAT360 cables - allowing 8 data connections and two phones. However, the lab outlets mainly contained one port for voice and five for data. "Although most locations will not utilize five data ports, initially, we wanted to make sure that the labs were wired so that we would not have to revisit them at a later date," states Moya.

The labs and offices, were carefully designed with the most highly evolved data and voice capabilities at all ports. "I don't think the researchers, faculty and students will realize how much horsepower we have installed at the jack," he adds.

Setting the Standards
Coinciding with the construction of the CCSR is an ongoing network infrastructure upgrade project for the Medical School. This project includes establishing a standardized wiring configuration within and between buildings and upgrading the network equipment to service both new construction as well as renovations. The network selected was the same as in the CCSR - a switched Ethernet 10 baseT/100baseT connection at every wallplate and gigabit Ethernet (1000 Mbps) between the closets. To guarantee the reliability and longevity of the newly installed systems, Leviton Telcom (Bothell, WA) and Helix/HiTemp provide a lifetime warranty for the end-to-end cabling and connectivity. Together Helix/HiTemp's cables and the connectivity equipment from Leviton Telcom meet the required transmission standards set by Leviton's GigaMax program. Therefore, the channel solution from closets to the TSOs are lifetime guaranteed through Walker Communications, who have successfully completed Leviton Telcom's certified training program. "One of the reasons that Stanford selected the Leviton Telcom and Helix/HiTemp solution is because of this lifetime guarantee," states Moya.

"Standardization has to do with more than just product specification," states Randy Sims, Western regional manager for datacom product for Helix/HiTemp Cables and Chromatic Technologies, Inc. (Tracy, CA). "It has to do with the costs, warranty and keeping these authorized players consistent for long-term relationships," he states. "Now, instead of 'a la carte cabling,' Stanford has a sensible boilerplate infrastructure for today and all their future needs."

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