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Garland Technology is committed to educating the benefits of having a strong foundation of network visibility and access. By providing this insight we protect the security of data across your network and beyond.

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Network TAPs are Not Toys, No Batteries Included!

After weeks of shopping and preparation, the holiday season is always upon us. And the big gift of the year? Hoverboards? Drones? These toys bring to life the sort of fun seen in classic Back to the Future films. There’s just one problem—people everywhere are complaining that their hoverboards are catching fire because of malfunctioning lithium-ion batteries (watch the video here).

If you can’t trust the lithium-ion batteries in children’s toys, what makes you think you can trust them in your data center? Some active TAPs on the market rely on battery backups, which is a commonly understood as not a best practice.

Let’s make one thing clear, lithium-ion battery fires are not new news. They don’t often get media attention due to ongoing investigations and settlement agreements, but even major organizations like NASA and AT&T have fallen prey to lithium-ion battery explosions.

Why do companies continue to deploy these batteries? They may seem necessary for backup power, but it’s important to fully understand the dangers of using lithium-ion batteries.

Why Are Lithium-Ion Batteries So Dangerous?

Lithium-ion batteries are so popular because they’re cheap. But aside from being so cheap, they require rigorous quality assurance processes for testing and keeping the cells free from contaminants. Any slight missteps in the production process can lead to future cell failures, fires and the release of dangerous fumes and liquids.

Unfortunately, even a well-produced battery can cause explosions when paired with poor charging circuits. You might think that you can rely on FCC or CE approvals to determine high-quality production, but even that’s a stretch. 

Download Now: Network TAPs 101 - The Networking User Guide [Free eBook]

Lithium-Ion Battery Regulation is a Conflicting Standards

The low-quality batteries that cause fires and explosions are generally associated with low-cost goods. To combat the rampant battery issues that began in 1991 with a cell phone battery explosion causing toxic burns on a man’s face, multiple conflicting lithium-ion battery standards have emerged.

For starters, the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) have instituted both the Standard for Lithium Batteries (UL 1642) and the Standard for Household and Commercial Batteries (UL 2054) to regulate production. In addition, there are standards from IEEE, ANSI, the United Nations, ISO/IEC and even specific countries to add to the confusion.

Lithium-ion batteries are so dangerous that there are additional regulations and restrictions for transportation. The TSA has specific bans for different kinds of lithium-ion batteries and some airlines have gone so far as to make their own statements. See what Southwest Airlines has recently decided:

“Due to concerns regarding the lithium batteries used in hoverboards (balance boards, gravity boards, self-balancing devices, etc.), effective Saturday, December 12, 2015, Southwest Airlines will not transport hoverboards in either checked luggage or as a carryon item.”

With so many potential problems, network professionals simply must say NO to batteries in their networks and data centers.

Why say NO to Batteries in Your Network:

  • Static electrical events can damage safety devices and charging circuits, leading to eventual catastrophic failure
  • External damage causes dangerous leaks no matter how well-made the battery is
  • Operating the battery outside of its specified temperature range can cause dangerous accidents

A Safe and Reliable Power Redundancy Scenario

Network professionals that implement lithium-ion batteries as protection against power-outages on network TAPs need a proven and safer approach to power redundancy. There are more reliable ways to keep monitoring networks in times of power failures. The most reliable solution is dual power planes with separate power sources hooked up to a primary power and a secondary power supply.  The secondary power supply is then connected to the network backup power (a UPS, generator, etc.).

A real network TAP does not provide a possible point of failure. If it’s a passive TAP, power is not required, if it’s an active TAP it should have failsafe technology that keeps your network links up and running even in case of power outages.

Why take a chance with the same batteries that are blowing up toys?

Looking to add active TAPs  to your next deployment, but not sure where to start? Join us for a brief network Design-IT consultation or demo. No obligation - it’s what we love to do!

Network TAPS 101 Basics for IT Security engineers

Written by Tim O'Neill

As the Senior Technology Consultant & Chief Editor at LoveMyTool, Tim O’Neill has over 45 years of technology experience at data/voice and video networking analysis companies, including successful senior roles in Sales, Product Design, Marketing Management, Business Development and Security.

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