IT Installation Tidy-Up

There are a total of 120 Ethernet network outlets distributed around the house which terminate in 5 x 24-port patch panels on the second floor. Some of these are used for specific fixed items like CCTV cameras (x5) and wireless access points (x6) whereas others are available in case there is a need to connect a portable device in a particular location. It’s highly unlikely that all of the outlets will be in use at any one time so there’s no need to have 120 switch ports available. Initially I started with a single 48-port switch which has been adequate up to now but the plan was always to have a second 48-port switch which I’ve just installed.

The primary driver for the second switch is to double the port capacity but a secondary factor is that switches can fail and having two provides a degree of redundancy. Many of the devices rely on Power over Ethernet (PoE) which means that both switches must support PoE, which is unfortunate because PoE-capable switches are roughly double the price of non-PoE switches.

Adding the second switch made it possible to greatly simplify the wiring to the patch panels, which now looks a lot tidier.

Patch panels, network switches and supporting equipment

The Ethernet switches (painted silver) are 48-Port UniFi models from Ubiquiti Networks, each capable of supplying 500W of PoE. These are linked together using 2 x 10 Gb/s UniFi DAC cables in their SFP+ ports (the black cables connecting to the right of each switch) so they pretty much act as one 96-port switch. However, strictly speaking they are not stackable switches which means they must be configured separately (no big deal) and also means they don’t support the more advanced types of link aggregation across the two switches.

The plan is now to re-configure the main Router/Firewall (the red box at the top) to be wired to both switches in an Active-Backup configuration, so its connections will flip over to the second switch in the event of a problem with the first switch or with one of the ports or the cable. So far I haven’t decided whether to do the same with the HP MicroServer or to leave that with 2 x 1 Gb/s connections into just one switch (using LACP which uses both cables to provide high availability and also double the bandwidth).

Hedgelaying the Southern Boundary

The “hedge” on the southern boundary had grown quite tall and – unlike the other hedges – hadn’t been regularly trimmed by the neighbouring farmers. Really it was more of a line of bushes and trees than a proper hedge.

Overgrown “hedge” along the southern boundary

In some areas there was evidence of hedgelaying having been done a long time ago – especially some near-horizontal stems in amongst the vertical growth.

Evidence of previous hedgelaying on the southern boundary

The southern boundary is about 15m from the house and the open-plan family room faces directly on to it via some large sliding glass doors, so it’s quite a visible feature and needs to look respectable.

The plan has always been to bring the hedge back under control by hedgelaying it in the Derbyshire style. This is tricky to do well so I was keen to bring in someone who knew what they were doing. Any Internet search quickly turns up the National Hedgelaying Society so I used their “Find a Hedgelayer” query tool to find local contractors and settled on having award-winning local hedgelayer Derrick Hale undertake the work.

Hedgelaying is a winter job – while there are no birds nesting and while the hedge plants are dormant – so there are limits on when it can be done and it’s prone to being delayed by bad weather. The job is now roughly 2/3 complete which provides a nice opportunity for a “before and after” comparison.

Partially laid hedge along the southern boundary

The hedge was in very bad condition beforehand which means it doesn’t look as tidy as it might have done afterwards but I’m very happy with the results so far. There are plenty of gaps which will need filling with new hawthorn plants but once those get chance to grow a bit it will look a lot better.