Networking in Unconventional Locations: 10 Common Challenges

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2014-08-19 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    1 - Networking in Unconventional Locations: 10 Common Challenges
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    Networking in Unconventional Locations: 10 Common Challenges

    by Chris Preimesberger
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    2 - Requirement No. 1: Hardware Must Be Durable
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    Requirement No. 1: Hardware Must Be Durable

    In locations with extreme temperatures or constantly moving parts, networking equipment needs to be designed to handle the elements. Standard networking equipment is not designed to stand up to these rigorous conditions and will eventually fail. IT professionals need to find hardware that is rugged and reliable enough to take constant abuse.
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    3 - Changes in Topography Create Challenges
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    Changes in Topography Create Challenges

    When in an unconventional location like a mine, networking is necessary to keep trucks and machines running efficiently. Unfortunately, uneven topography often leads to networking issues. Working through issues like this can be a real challenge, especially when the environment is constantly changing.
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    4 - Getting Replacement Parts to Remote Locations
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    Getting Replacement Parts to Remote Locations

    Whether it is an oil platform in the North Sea or a mine in Chile, remote locations offer their own networking challenges. Being so remote means that whatever solution that is used to network machines, sensors and operations needs to be scalable and reliable. When replacement parts are weeks away, the hardware better be reliable.
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    5 - Limited Infrastructure in Train Transportation
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    Limited Infrastructure in Train Transportation

    Networking is not just necessary in fixed deployments. One industry that is often overlooked is rail shipping. With the amount of goods transported via rail, it is shocking that most box cars lack any form of connectivity. In the remote areas where trains operate, there is rarely infrastructure to support networking of smarter rail cars; this causes a black hole for companies wanting to track their exact box cars.
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    6 - Outdated Software and Hardware
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    Outdated Software and Hardware

    In unconventional locations, you will find companies that are reluctant to invest in modern networking technology. When you are in unforgiving locations, dealing with outdated hardware can cause major issues for IT professionals and make it even more difficult to keep a network up and running.
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    7 - Areas Too Large for Networks to Serve
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    Areas Too Large for Networks to Serve

    Relying on only wired LAN is unrealistic when the connected areas span 200 square miles. In massive deployment areas—such as oil fields—the solution must be able to cover a massive area and offer a consistent and strong connection.
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    8 - The Network Must to Be Able to Scale With the Location
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    The Network Must to Be Able to Scale With the Location

    Some remote locations—like mines—are constantly expanding and changing. The hardware deployed in these areas needs to be able to scale and grow with the mine.
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    9 - The Network Must Have No Single Point of Failure
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    The Network Must Have No Single Point of Failure

    When network availability is mission-critical for the safety of crew members, would you really want to rely on a system that has a single point of failure? Some remote locations are dangerous enough and losing communication due to the network going down is unacceptable. Any network deployed in a remote and dangerous location cannot have a single point of failure.
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    10 - The Network Needs to Handle Many Apps
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    The Network Needs to Handle Many Apps

    In industrial settings, the network must be able to handle multiple applications at once without failing. These applications can include voice communications, video monitoring, and fleet monitoring and control. With mission-critical applications like this, it is imperative that the network is designed to handle a heavy load.
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    11 - Administrators Must Do Their Homework
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    Administrators Must Do Their Homework

    When dealing with networking in unconventional locations, the challenges can seem as daunting as the environments in which they reside. The way to overcome them is to research and find the right networking solution that has been designed to thrive in a rigorous environment.
 

When a network goes down in most workplaces, it is certainly an inconvenience, but rarely does it have life-threatening implications. In unconventional locations, such as mines, oil platforms and rail lines, networking has a unique set of challenges that can't be solved by regular networking hardware. For example, we're talking about networking operations in harsh locations such as the North Sea or Arctic Circle; deserts, such as the Sahara or Mojave; or extreme cold in high mountain ranges. These challenges need hardware and software that is specially designed to increase reliability and decrease the chance of failure. If this hardware and software suddenly fail, information movement stops and lives could be put at risk. This slide show, produced with eWEEK reporting and industry information from Kirk Byles, vice president at mesh-networking provider Rajant Corp., covers data points to consider when running networks in unconventional and/or remote locations.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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