New Network Installs

Discussions about Internet service providers (ISPs), the Meetinghouse Firewall, wired and wireless networking, usage, management, and support of Meetinghouse Internet
john84601
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New Network Installs

Postby john84601 » Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:12 pm

My local FM Manager is talking about hiring a contractor to come install the wireless in our stake buildings. At first I wondered why... then I started to wonder if I was missing something. So now I have some questions.
  • How is the relationship between FM and the STS supposed to work when it comes to new equipment?
    • Does FM install it and then transition support to the STS?
    • Are FM and the STS suppost to coordinate the install?
    • Does the FM just hand over equipment and let the STS do it?
      • What is the policy here?
      • What is the norm here?
  • I have noticed that some others have mentioned Contractors installing equipment... and I wondered why that was?
    • I always assumed that it was a lack of local technical talent?
    • What other reasons are there...?
    • Is it just policy?
  • So when FM does hire contractors, what services do they normally provide?
    • Do they pull cabling? Do they certify cabling?
    • Do they do any sort of wireless planning... or heat maps?
    • Do they config any of the equipment?
    • Do they require FM to do the cabling before they show up?
I would just assume do the install myself (to just get it done). However, I don't want to strain the already "rocky" relationship I have with FM. So I was hoping to find out what is normal with the rest of the church before I offer.


My last thought was... if they are firm on using a contractor, has anyone gotten any little 'extras' out of them? Maybe this could work to my advantage? Maybe I could get them to...
  • Pull extra home-runs for WAPs and other use.
  • Get them to tone and lable all the Ethernet cables coming into our cabinet (about 25).
  • Have them certify all wiring while they are there?
  • Documentation / As-Builts?
  • Heat maps of WiFi after it's installed.
Anyone have any luck with this kind of thing?


Thanks.

JW

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:45 pm

I would expect that as a STS, you'll have a hand in determining the needs and drawing up the specs for the install.

Since the FM group is in charge of the building, they'll want to make sure that things are done by a licensed contractor in order to assure compliance with local electrical codes, fire laws and sound construction practices. I'm willing to bet there's a number of people who run cable as part of their job who do not know all the laws and best practices nor have received formal training on the "right way". Certainly when it comes to running the cable, I think it's best to let a contractor do it.

How much expertise you get on the network itself and signal strength mapping, really depends on what contractor the FM group gets.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

bradhokanson
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Postby bradhokanson » Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:12 pm

john84601 wrote:My local FM Manager is talking about hiring a contractor to come install the wireless in our stake buildings. At first I wondered why... then I started to wonder if I was missing something. So now I have some questions.
  • How is the relationship between FM and the STS supposed to work when it comes to new equipment?
    • Does FM install it and then transition support to the STS?
    • Are FM and the STS suppost to coordinate the install?
    • Does the FM just hand over equipment and let the STS do it?
      • What is the policy here?
      • What is the norm here?
  • I have noticed that some others have mentioned Contractors installing equipment... and I wondered why that was?
    • I always assumed that it was a lack of local technical talent?
    • What other reasons are there...?
    • Is it just policy?
  • So when FM does hire contractors, what services do they normally provide?
    • Do they pull cabling? Do they certify cabling?
    • Do they do any sort of wireless planning... or heat maps?
    • Do they config any of the equipment?
    • Do they require FM to do the cabling before they show up?
I would just assume do the install myself (to just get it done). However, I don't want to strain the already "rocky" relationship I have with FM. So I was hoping to find out what is normal with the rest of the church before I offer.


My last thought was... if they are firm on using a contractor, has anyone gotten any little 'extras' out of them? Maybe this could work to my advantage? Maybe I could get them to...
  • Pull extra home-runs for WAPs and other use.
  • Get them to tone and lable all the Ethernet cables coming into our cabinet (about 25).
  • Have them certify all wiring while they are there?
  • Documentation / As-Builts?
  • Heat maps of WiFi after it's installed.
Anyone have any luck with this kind of thing?


Thanks.

JW


The only thing I would recommend is having a contractor install cabling..and not an electrician. Have a specialist in low voltage/network cabling do the work. Have it done right according to BSCI Specs so it is certified. Most FMs I have talked to are hesitant to do this because it costs more. But I can assure you will eliminate MANY potential problems by doing it. Professional wireless consulting with heat maps etc, isnt necessary and anyone can install an 881w; it is not difficult.

Brad
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johnshaw
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Postby johnshaw » Wed Sep 26, 2012 6:15 am

John,

There is nothing consistent about what FMG does in this scenario. As I've observed this interesting transition - I believe it is related to the fact that FMG is used to operating independently. They are a group that does everything or nothing. They own a project start-to-finish, or they tell the Stake if they want it done they'll have to do it. They are very My budget or your budget. I would think of it that way. When it comes to something like Meetinghouse Internet where the FMG is responsible for the install of the ISP and the physical install of the Firewall and WAP, and the STS is responsible for the Network, they are unable to draw a conclusion of what that means. In my observation (I work with 2 FMG in my stake) the network stuff is 'new' and 'cool' and they want to do the work that I see as clearly being the STS role. They also work with varying levels of STS competence with most STS being called because they can 'repair computers' In my case I've built-out data center footprints in multiple countries - a network consisting of 9 locations is child's play to me. Your HC-Facilities is also vital to this relationship. In my own subtle way, I was alienating the HC-Facilities as well in a similar 'oversight' manner. As an example of STS Competence, I recently found out a stake serviced by my FMG implemented Meetinghouse Internet without any firewalls. Since that happened, they were the first stake prioritized to get the new 881W/1041N - This is rewarding bad behavior in my opinion - They used up all the budget I was told, a budget item I had asked to be included for 2012 for OUR stake, I don't understand how funding for a stake can be taken and used in another stake but that is my own personal demon to work out.

Their instructions, as I've seen them in online training, and some internal FMG documents, are that they can allow the STS to do as much of the work as possible, including laying cable, but there are some strict requirements on laying the cable, and they have instructions that they hire someone that can meet those strict instructions or do it themselves. Their budgets, most of the time, do not allow for hiring a contractor, and they don't have the time themselves to run the cabling, and that leads them to tell the stakes that their policy is to only provide wireless to a portion of the building, and that the firewall is sufficient to provide that wireless.

You must have a similar relationship that I have with FMG. They feel that I am providing 'oversight' of their work in an undue manner, and they feel like I'm picking apart every little thing. My Stake President doesn't understand it as he's reviewed all the same material I have and believes I'm acting in the way the STS should. We've put together a Stake Plan for technology usage, including a building-by-building plan, I've had that plan in place for several years, and have not been approached by the FMG about that plan even though we've had several meetings with them to get on the same page, I'm still unable to work with them in any meaningful way.

One other observation, the way Meetinghouse Internet has rolled out has also been a problem. They were given instructions that were soft in 2011 and 2012, meaning, if you can work it into your plans, pretty please, with sugar on top, could you get the new networking installed in the meetinghouses.... for 2013 it has been MANDATED. Many FMG that waited until the mandate are now stuck trying to do something that should've been done over a couple of years into a single year, and they are looking for ways to 'cut-corners' - like telling my stake that putting in Ethernet into the meetinghouses is not part of what they are supposed to do, and only providing wireless.

What really kills me is that the best Low-voltage contractor in our area is owned by a member of a stake presidency in our area. His company does all the cabling for the data center I work in and is top-notch. Many of the installers are members of the church, several former installers are in my stake. I think we could coordinate and knock this thing out, I've suggested that to both FMG over the last couple of years and nothing....

My personal disclaimer, this is my experience, and my experience alone, the opinions expressed do not represent the opinions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my Stake Presidency, my wife, or my daughters, your mileage my vary.

I've attached a basic diagram that was our initial conversation with FMG back in the fall of 2009 - If you look at this diagram, you can see that it is the same as what FMG was given as instructions for rolling out Meetinghouse Internet (In fact the Church expanded this, really with Ethernet to the RS/Chapel, etc...). We've had a consistent message/desire from the point I became the Stake Clerk in late 2009.
MeetinghouseNetworking.pdf
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“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”
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KeithWilson
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Postby KeithWilson » Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:21 pm

Interesting point about the "my budget" and "your budget". I have found that the best way to deal with the FM group is to make requests as far in advance as possible, and let them know that they need to get it into their budget because the "church is moving that direction". I have often sent them emails referring to items in the Forum and Wiki, just to provide ample evidence that Im not crazy, and that it's actually something that's a good idea.

For example, we had a building that had Wireless only. It was built a couple years before the policy was to wire all rooms. I requested in December that we hire a contractor to do some wall plates by the pulpit, because we had to stream stake conference, and the response was, "I thought that building had it wired throughout", and the next thing I knew, he hired the electrical contractor to wire the entire building, adding wall plates to each room, including the bishops offices and clerks offices, adding a switch to handle all the connections. This made my life tremendously easier, as I hardly get a call for that building anymore. The last streamed meeting we had there went fantastic.

Other examples, when we had to get a camera mounted, didn't turn out as great. I supplied the FM group diagrams and wire specs, and the contractor tried to bill the FM group and their response was, "We are only authorizing a normal camera install". I replied with, "what's normal, each stake does it differently". Me and my assistant clerk ended up figuring out the problems with the wiring, because the FM group was done with the install. And for the camera install, we requested and gave them heads up several months before we actually needed it installed, so it was on their radar. As long as the FM group has a clear plan of what's needed, and they have the budget to do it, you should be all right.

In my final example, I sent the FM group a detailed email where it had been stated that in early 2012 all buildings would go to the new firewalls and WEPs, and I asked him when it would happen. He simply said, "we will see what happens". I think again, it's a budget issue. As for the new firewalls and WEPs our plan is to wait. I will probably enter the building one day, and they will all be upgraded with the new firewalls and WEPs.

Your mileage may vary, but my suggestion is to keep the communication open as much as possible, so they know your needs and you know their limitations.

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Sat Sep 29, 2012 1:32 pm

KeithWilson wrote:It was built a couple years before the policy was to wire all rooms.


As far as I know, there's no policy to wire all the rooms. Just selected areas.
Have you searched the Wiki?

Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

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Postby rknelson » Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:52 pm

I feel the need to chime in. I guess I should consider myself very fortunate; the working relationship with our FM group is excellent. When I have felt a need to have something installed I have cleared it with the Stake Presidency, and then met with the FM group for a few minutes to review what I wanted to do asking for their input and approval. When equipment is needed that they need to purchase (firewalls, 1041N’s, switches, etc.), some patience and understanding of the budget process helps. They have always been willing to get what is needed, but it can take time.

My sense is that our FM Group is willing to let members do anything they are capable of doing well without violating building codes and causing liability issues. I think we all know that a few minutes with a saw in a meetinghouse could do thousands of dollars damage (or I suppose even hundreds of thousands of dollars if you picked the right place in the right beam…). We’ve also all observed poor workmanship that leaves unsightly damage. And there could be liability issues for the church if the person doing the work were to get hurt. The trick seems to be somehow having them come to trust that you know what you are doing, and that you will do a clean, attractive, professional looking job that meets code. The FM group takes a big risk in letting members do this work, but they also save significant money when members are able to donate the labor.

(Sadly, even contractors often do poor work. I’ve crawled through virtually every corner of every attic in every building in the stake. It’s appalling how often professional contractors leave massive holes in insulation, or chop through a firewall and make no attempt to cover the 4 foot hole, or run non-plenum cable through air ducts. So there is certainly risk to contractors too.)

I feel for those who have not had such a great experience with their FM Group, and don’t want to imply it’s your fault. I guess we have an exceptional FM Group.

We’ve member installed miles of cable for wired internet to every clerks office, bishop’s office, and the podium all 5 buildings in the stake. We’ve also installed various equipment cabinets, a couple of projectors, webcast cameras, wifi, and even an antenna for interpretation equipment, along with the wiring for each of these.

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Postby Aczlan » Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:41 am

rknelson wrote: My sense is that our FM Group is willing to let members do anything they are capable of doing well without violating building codes and causing liability issues. I think we all know that a few minutes with a saw in a meetinghouse could do thousands of dollars damage (or I suppose even hundreds of thousands of dollars if you picked the right place in the right beam…). We’ve also all observed poor workmanship that leaves unsightly damage. And there could be liability issues for the church if the person doing the work were to get hurt. The trick seems to be somehow having them come to trust that you know what you are doing, and that you will do a clean, attractive, professional looking job that meets code. The FM group takes a big risk in letting members do this work, but they also save significant money when members are able to donate the labor.

When we were putting in our camera, FM was willing to punch the holes and put in conduit as long as we ran the wire. That worked well and took about 1/2 of a Saturday to pull the wires exactly how I wanted to pull them.

Aaron Z

rolandc
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Postby rolandc » Sat Oct 06, 2012 12:05 pm

This has been my short term experience as well.



rknelson wrote:I feel the need to chime in. I guess I should consider myself very fortunate; the working relationship with our FM group is excellent. When I have felt a need to have something installed I have cleared it with the Stake Presidency, and then met with the FM group for a few minutes to review what I wanted to do asking for their input and approval. When equipment is needed that they need to purchase (firewalls, 1041N’s, switches, etc.), some patience and understanding of the budget process helps. They have always been willing to get what is needed, but it can take time.

My sense is that our FM Group is willing to let members do anything they are capable of doing well without violating building codes and causing liability issues. I think we all know that a few minutes with a saw in a meetinghouse could do thousands of dollars damage (or I suppose even hundreds of thousands of dollars if you picked the right place in the right beam…). We’ve also all observed poor workmanship that leaves unsightly damage. And there could be liability issues for the church if the person doing the work were to get hurt. The trick seems to be somehow having them come to trust that you know what you are doing, and that you will do a clean, attractive, professional looking job that meets code. The FM group takes a big risk in letting members do this work, but they also save significant money when members are able to donate the labor.

(Sadly, even contractors often do poor work. I’ve crawled through virtually every corner of every attic in every building in the stake. It’s appalling how often professional contractors leave massive holes in insulation, or chop through a firewall and make no attempt to cover the 4 foot hole, or run non-plenum cable through air ducts. So there is certainly risk to contractors too.)

I feel for those who have not had such a great experience with their FM Group, and don’t want to imply it’s your fault. I guess we have an exceptional FM Group.

We’ve member installed miles of cable for wired internet to every clerks office, bishop’s office, and the podium all 5 buildings in the stake. We’ve also installed various equipment cabinets, a couple of projectors, webcast cameras, wifi, and even an antenna for interpretation equipment, along with the wiring for each of these.
Roland


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