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Once you’ve chosen your cabinet, whether it be customized Elite or an energy-saving ClimateCab, it’s time to add accessories for even more function.


Cabinets have two sets of rails, front and back, where you can mount shelves, trays, cable managers, and power strips.



Cabinet shelves are an easy solution for storing things that aren’t rackmountable. The shelves attach to the rails; servers or other equipment sits on the shelves. Make sure the shelf has the weight capacity you need—some can hold hundreds of pounds. For easy access to components in your cabinet, choose a sliding shelf. There are also vented shelves that improve air circulation within the cabinet.


Although most shelves fit 19” rails, there are shelves that go on the less-common 23” rails. There are also brackets that can adapt many devices intended for 19” mount to 23” rails.


Keyboard Trays

Keyboard trays are space-saving solutions that also keep your data center organized. They slide neatly into your cabinet or rack—and out of your way—when not in use. And they usually fit into only 1U of rack space.


KVM Trays

Further reduce clutter in your server room by using KVM trays that are 1-or 2U high mounted in your cabinet. Special features of many KVM trays include rock-solid construction, LEDs on the front panel for easy location in a darkened data center, and integrated KVM switching.


Front-panel controls enable you to use the buttons on a monitor bezel without pulling out the keyboard. Some trays have USB ports for access.


Cable Managers

Cabinets usually have built-in troughs for cable routing, knockouts for cable pass-throughs, and tie-off points for cable management. You can also add horizontal or vertical cable managers to the cabinet’s rails to manage and route cables more efficiently. Cable managers control bend radius to protect cables from hidden crushes, inks, and snags, and reduce maintenance time by keeping your cabinet neat and organized. Plus, properly managed cables help to improve airflow.




If you have no room to spare in your cabinet, think SpaceGAIN. You might not think of a patch panel as an “accessory,” but SpaceGAIN angled-port and angled path panels are not your average panels. They free up valuable space and eliminate the need for horizontal cable managers. You save time and money by routing cables directly into ports. And SpaceGAIN high-density feed-through patch panels enable you to fit 48 ports into only 1U of rack space, with no punchdowns needed.


To save even more space, use SpaceGAIN 90° Right-Angle CAT5e/CAT6 cables. Their up, down, left, or right angles save up to 4” of space in crowded cabinets.


PDUs and UPSs

Control the distribution of power in your cabinet with a power distribution unit. A PDU can be basic or “intelligent,” with surge protection, remote management, or power and environmental monitoring. Integrate a PDU directly into an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for extra reliability.



Most cabinets come with a lock and key, but more advanced options are available to provide a higher level of security. Keyless options include combination locks and biometric locks that read fingerprints.


Fans and Blowers

Ventilation in your cabinets is critical for keeping vital equipment cool.


An enclosure blower draws cool air from a raised floor at the bottom of the cabinet and delivers it right across the front of servers or other network components. It fits on standard 19” rails and uses only 2U of mounting space. This high level of ventilation lowers the temperature of cabinet hot spots by up to 15° F. Lowering temperature protects your electronics against failure caused by overheating, which may enable you to install more equipment.


Fan panels or fan trays direct maximum airflow with very little noise to heat-sensitive rackmounted equipment. Position them in your cabinet wherever you need them the most.


Most network devices take in air through their front panels and expel it out the back. Filler panels in unused rack spaces help keep cool air in the front of the cabinet where it can be used by the equipment.


For more information on effective cooling techniques, read our blog post on efficient cooling in the data center.

With many companies doing more with less, IT administrators’ workloads are increasing. It’s often not practical to have someone at every branch or site within a company just to baby-sit a server or two. And with gas prices reaching new heights, it’s not very economical to drive to every site either. With remote power control, administrators can reboot servers from anywhere, even at home in their pajamas at 3:00 a.m.


Simply put, remote power control is the ability to reset or reboot PC, LAN/WAN, telecom, and other computer equipment without being at the equipment’s location.


For system administrators, the ability to perform a power cycle or remote reboot is a way to avoid major communications problems. When equipment locks up and no longer responds to normal communication commands, it’s usually up to the system manager to reset or reboot it. After the power cycles on and off, normal communications resume. How many times is there going to be a technically trained person at the site who can perform maintenance and reset the equipment? Not very often. Even if it is a manned station, there is a risk that the wrong equipment could be rebooted. To save traveling time and minimize downtime, remote power control enables the system manger to take care of things at the office without having to travel. Think of it as your own “easy button.”


Who needs remote power control? Everyone! Especially those of you in an organization with a network that reaches remote sites. This can include branch offices, unmanned information kiosks, alarm and control systems, and even HVAC systems for climate control. Other applications include unmanned remote monitoring stations, satellite control equipment at communications towers, cellular towers, and radio equipment.


If you don’t have remote sites, remote power control is a must for your serves, switches, routers, and other network equipment plus the climate control equipment at your main data center. Even though you may be managing local sites, when problems occur in the middle of the night, your bed can seem very comfy and headquarters can seem very far away.


With remote power control, power can be controlled remotely via RS-232 commands over modems on existing or special phone lines, over the TCP/IP network, or locally with terminal software. The ideal system uses out-of-band management, an alternate path over an ordinary dialup line that doesn’t interfere with network equipment.


An effective remote power control system incorporates the following:


  • An existing phone line, such as a line being used for a fax, modem, or phone.
  • Transparent operation. The system shouldn’t interfere with or be affected by normal calls.
  • Security features. The system should prevent unauthorized access to network equipment.
  • Flexibility. System managers should be able to dial in from anywhere and control multiple devices with one call.
  • Have power control devices that meet UL® and FCC requirements.

Remote power control helps you keep an eye on your network equipment no matter if you’re in the office, across the country, or asleep at home. Call 1-877-877-2269, and we’ll help you get complete power control. Or, you can e-mail us at



Rackmount Remote Power Managers (PDF)

Elite Managed Power Controllers (PDF)

Black Box’s SmartPath Enterprise Wireless system combines the stability, security, and speed of a wired network with the versatility and adaptability of a wireless network. It’s just what your customers need to set up fast, 802.11n standard Wi-Fi communications in a logical way.

The technology offers enhancements over existing wireless technology available today. You get speed and reliable wireless communications from a system that’s simpler—and more affordable—to deploy.


The SmartPath system combines a distributed WLAN architecture and best-in-class management without a lot of upfront costs or operating expenses. It’s perfect for:
» Hospitals and healthcare
» Government
» Hotels and meeting halls
» Growing small businesses


Our specialized sales support team will guide you through your first SmartPath sale and implementation.


To learn more about what SmartPath can offer your customers, and to download brochures and white papers, visit And don’t forget to visit for a SmartPath coming soon!

Exceed your sales plan by using all the reseller weapons. If you missed Weapons #1–6, click here.

If you’re sending KVM signals between buildings for an extended distance, in areas supplied by different power sources, in an electrically noisy environment, or where data security is a big concern, you need to use a fiber optic-based KVM extender.


Optical fiber is an ideal transmission medium not only for backbone and horizontal connection, but also for workstation-to-backracked CPU or server links. It works very well in applications where you need to transfer large, bandwidth-consuming data files over long distances, and where you require immunity from electrical interference or data theft.


Before selecting a fiber-based KVM extender, it’s important to know the limitations of your system. You need to know where the couplers, links, interconnect equipment, and other devices are going to be placed. If it’s a longer run, you have to determine whether multimode or single-mode fiber cable is needed.


The most important consideration in planning cabling for fiber-based KVM extension is the power budget specification of device connection. The receiver at the remote end has to receive the light signal at a certain level. This value, called the loss budget, tells you the amount of loss in decibels (dB) that can be present in the link between the two devices before the units fail to perform properly.


Specifically, this value takes the fiber type (multimode or single-mode) wavelength you intend to use—and the amount of expected in-line attenuation—into consideration. This is the decrease of signal strength as it travels through the fiber cable. In the budget loss calculation, you also have to account for splices, patch panels, and connectors, where additional dBs may be lost in the entire end-to-end fiber extension. If the measured loss is less than the number calculated by your loss budget, your installation is good.


Testers are available to determine if the fiber cabling supports your intended application. You can measure how much light is going to the other end of the cable. Generally, these testers give you the results in dB lost, which you then compare to the loss budget to determine your link loss margin.


Also, in some instances, particularly when using single-mode fiber to drive the signal farther, the signal may be too strong between connected devices. This causes the light signal to reflect back down the fiber cable, which can corrupt data, result in a faulty transmission, and even damage equipment. To prevent this, use fiber attenuators. They are used with single-mode fiber optic devices and cable to filter the strength of the fiber optic signal from the transmitter’s LED output so it doesn’t overwhelm the receiver. Depending on the type of attenuator attached to the devices at each end of the line, you can diminish the strength of the light signal a variable amount by a certain number of decibels.


Need help calculating your budget loss? Call our FREE Tech Support. If necessary, they can even recommend a fusion splicing fiber kit, a fiber tester, or a signal attenuator for your specific requirements.

There are two primary organizations dedicated to developing and setting structured cabling standards. In North America, standards are issued by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), which is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The TIA was formed in April 1988 after a merger with the Electronics Industry Association (EIA). That’s why its standards are commonly known as ANSI/TIA/EIA, TIA/EIA, or TIA.

Globally, the organizations that issue standards are the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Standards are often listed as ISO/IEC. Other organizations include the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), CENELEC (European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardizations), and the Japanese Standards Association (JSA/JSI).

The committees of all these organizations work together and the performance requirements of the standards are very similar. But there is some confusion in terminology.

The TIA cabling components (cables, connecting hardware, and patch cords) are labeled with a “category.” These components together form a permanent link or channel that is also called a “category.” The ISO/IEC defines the link and channel requirements with a “class” designation. But the components are called a “category.” Follow?

The Standards
Category 5 (CAT5), ratified in 1991, was the de facto standard for 100-Mbps networks during the 1990s. It is no longer recognized by the TIA/EIA for use in data networking.

Category 5e (CAT5e)–ISO/IEC 11801 Class D, ratified in 1999, is designed to enable twisted-pair cabling to support full-duplex, 4-pair transmission in 100-MHz applications. The CAT5e standard added more headroom and established new requirements to support Gigabit Ethernet over a worst case four-connector channel. These include stricter specs for Near-End Crosstalk (NEXT) and Return Loss (RL). The standard also introduced the required measurements for Power Sum Near-End Crosstalk (PS-NEXT), Equal-Level Far-End Crosstalk (EL-FEXT), and Power Sum Equal-Level Far-End Crosstalk (PS-ELFEXT). CAT5e is still used in many organizations, although it is no longer recognized for new installations.

Category 6 (CAT6)–Class E has a specified frequency of 250 MHz, significantly improved bandwidth capacity over CAT5e, and easily handles Gigabit Ethernet transmissions. In recent years, it has been the cable of choice for new structured cabling systems. CAT6 supports 1000BASE-T and, depending on the installation, 10GBASE-T (10-GbE).

10-GbE over CAT6 introduces the problem of Alien Crosstalk (ANEXT), the unwanted coupling of signals between adjacent pairs and cables. Because ANEXT in CAT6 10-GbE networks is so dependent on installation practices, TSB-155 qualifies 10-GbE over CAT6 up to 55 meters and requires it to be 100% tested. To mitigate ANEXT in CAT6, it is recommended that you unbundle the cables and increase the separation between the cables.

Augmented Category 6 (CAT6a)–Class Ea was ratified in February 2008. This standard calls for 10-Gigabit Ethernet data transmission over a 4-pair copper cabling system up to 100 meters. CAT6a extends CAT6 electrical specifications from 250 MHz to 500 MHz. It introduces the ANEXT requirement. It also replaces the term Equal Level Far-End Crosstalk (ELFEXT) with Attenuation to Crosstalk Ratio, Far-End (ACRF) to mesh with ISO terminology. CAT6a provides improved insertion loss over CAT6. It is a good choice for noisy environments with lots of EMI. CAT6a is also well-suited for use with PoE+.

CAT6a UTP cable is significantly larger than CAT6 cable. It features larger conductors, usually 22 AWG, and is designed with more space between the pairs to minimize ANEXT. The outside diameter of CAT6a cable averages 0.29–0.35" compared to 0.21–0.24" for CAT6 cable. This reduces number of cables you can fit in a conduit. At a 40% fill ratio, you can run three CAT6a cables in a 3/4" conduit vs. five CAT6 cables.

There are two types of CAT6a cable, UTP and F/UTP. For a discussion of the differences, see the white paper in our Resources section.

Category 7 (CAT7)–Class F was published in 2002 by the ISO/IEC. It is not a TIA recognized standard. Class 7 specifies minimum performance standards for fully shielded cable (individually shielded pairs surrounded by an overall shield) transmitting data at rates up to 600 MHz. It offers greater capacity for demanding applications such as broadband video. It’s also well suited for applications where fiber optic cable would typically be used—but it costs less. Because each CAT7 pair is fully shielded, it's ideal for areas prone to EMI/RFI. Class 7 cable offers two connector styles: the standard RJ plug and a non-RJ-style plug and socket interface specified in IEC 61076-2-104:2.

Category 7a (CAT7a)–Class Fa is currently in ISO standards for channel performance in Amendment 1, recently component performance has been ratified in Amendment 2. The formal names are ISO 11801 Amendment 1 (2008) and ISO 11801 Amendment 2 (2010). Class Fa cable is a fully shielded cable that extends frequency from 600 MHz to 1000 MHz. It can easily handle 10-GbE and offers users a lifespan of 15 years or more. It has even been discussed that Class Fa cable is the future for 40GBASE-T or more.


Now that you’ve memorized the alphabet soup of cabling, how about a test? Just kidding. For a comparison chart of category performance standards, see the Buyer's Guide in the Resources section. Questions? E-mail

More and more companies are migrating from a traditional private branch exchange (PBX) telephony system to a voice-over-IP (VoIP) system. The question isn't if you should move to a VoIP system, but when. Although VoIP systems have been commonplace in larger organizations, they are now becoming more affordable and practical from small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to implement. VoIP systems benefit everyone from telecommuters and mobile workers all the way up to the managers and users of large call centers.


What is VoIP?

VoIP is a cost-saving alternative to traditional telephony service. It delivers voice calls over a data network that uses packet switching instead of a circuit switching.


There are different types of VoIP networks. Calls can be "Internet telephony," that is, sent over the public Internet, or they can be "enterprise IP," which are calls originating on the corporate IP network and sent over the corporate intranet, or a combination of the intranet and a Public Switched Network (PTSN). The latter is called an IP PBX system.


VoIP options.

The best VoIP option for you depends on the size of your organization, the number of users, how many locations you have, etc. There are two basic types of offerings: hosted services or on-premises services, also called customer premise equipment (CPE services).


Large organizations typically use CPE systems where the system equipment is physically on-site. These offer much greater control over features, functions, and capabilities, but they also require a much greater initial capital outlay. Small businesses usually use hosted services as they are easier to manage and have a much smaller initial capital expenditure.



VoIP offerings include:

Converged voice and data: There are basic VoIP systems using existing phone systems. The most basic are software based, such as Skype. As software-based systems continue to grow and mature, they are becoming more appealing to the SMB market.

Hosted IP-PBX: In a hosted system, the service provider, rather than the end user, deploys a PBX system. The end user needs to purchase IP phones, but not a PBX.

Managed IP-PBX: This is an on-site VoIP system including the system, services, and support. It requires a greater capital expenditure but it gives the user a flexible call routing platform, management of PBX functions, and centralized call routing.

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunks: A newer technology, SIP trunks enable converged IP applications within and outside the enterprise. SIP trunks offer significant savings, eliminating the need for local PSTN gateways. They also offer maximum control of multimedia communication sessions over an IP network.


Not all fun and free calls.

VoIP depends on having a fast, reliable network to operate. A fast network connection with guaranteed bandwidth is not a problem in a corporate intranet. But if you're using the Internet for VoIP, you're using a public network that may be subject to slowdowns. The quality of your connection may be unacceptable when Web usage is high.


You may face many of the same challenges experienced with sending high-resolution video over a LAN, especially if it's a converged voice/video/data application. Therefore, you'll need to test the speed of network connections and the network for available bandwidth, and have the ability to prioritize switched packets for QoS delivery.


There are four common issues with a VoIP system:

  • Latency is a delay in data transmission. This usually results in people speaking over one another.
  • Loss. Losing a small percentage of voice transmission doesn't affect VoIP, but too much (more than 1%) compromises the quality of the call.
  • Jitter is common to congested networks with bursty traffic. Jitter can be managed to some degree with software buffers.
  • Sequence errors, or changes in the order of packets at the receiving station, degrades sound quality.


Emergency services issues.

The FCC has taken steps to require that providers of interconnected VoIP services (VoIP services that use the PSTN-the most common type of VoIP), to meet Enhanced 911 (E911) obligations. E911 automatically provides a callback number and, in most cases, location information.


As of January 2011, these rules do not apply to non-interconnected VoIP service providers, which provides calls between computers, IP adapters, or SIP phones to other VoIP customers and do not touch an interconnected service. For example, Skype to Skype calls over broadband is non-interconnected VoIP.


Power issues.

Consider, too, that VoIP needs both working Internet access and power to work. If you lose your Internet service, your phone goes, too. And, unlike regular phone service that can keep basic phones working when the power goes out, VoIP needs power—if you lose power, you lose your phone.


As with any emerging technology, there are going to be a few bumps in the road. In the long run, VoIP offers a better way to manage and transmit voice, data, images, video, e-mail, faxes, and more at a lower cost than traditional phone services. If you need technical advice, just call 1-877-877-2269 for an expert in less than 30 seconds.

Although it might seem like air conditioners produce cold air, they actually work by removing hot air from the cabinet and transferring the heat away from the cabinet itself. The air flowing back into the enclosure has the heat removed and thus feels colder.


Air conditioners designed for cooling electronics have two basic systems at work within them: The first is the compressor, refrigerant, evaporator coil, and condenser coil system, which transfers the heat from inside the cabinet to outside the enclosure. The second is the air mover system, which is comprised of a cabinet-side blower and exterior-side blower. The cabinet side blower circulates the hot enclosure air over the evaporation coil, so that the refrigerant can pick up the heat energy and move it to the exterior of the air conditioner. The exterior-side blower then exhausts the heat away from the condenser coil to the outside of the air conditioner.


Unlike domestic building cooling, where the evaporator coil and blower are separate from the condenser coil, compressor, and condenser blower, systems designed for electronics cooling usually package these components together in one unit. Because electronics cooling is not designed for human comfort, the thermostat is typically not set any lower than 75° F (23.8° C). This higher temperature range reduces the chance of condensation forming inside the enclosure or on vital electronic equipment.