Posted By Industry Perspectives On December 17, 2012 @ 10:47 am In Industry Perspectives | 2 Comments
Ian Timmins is Director of Engineering of Optical Cable Corporation. 
Data centers represent some of the most demanding performance technology in the communications infrastructure market. Choosing the right cabling and cable management system is one of the most important aspects of data center design. Reliability, in combination with extreme density, should guide your choice of products. Data center longevity is also a consideration, especially when it comes time to upgrade to 40G and 100G Ethernet.
Cabling infrastructure is the backbone of your data center. The rugged characteristics of tight buffer cabling reduce risk of downtime caused by cable failure. With increasing density and the subsequent increased risk of strain on your cabling system, reliability is essential when evaluating cabling needs. As fiber becomes the prominent transport medium in the data center, it’s important to research and select the latest in data center products and technologies. Choose companies with experience in developing and supplying cable products perfected for the most critical communications applications.
The sheer number of connections in the data center has increased dramatically and will continue to do so with the advent of the 40G and 100Gbit/s Ethernet standards. These new standards require increased fiber counts for a single data connection beyond the conventional duplex configuration. Look for the highest density of connectivity. There are currently products on the market that will support upward of 144 LCs for fiber optic installs and 48 ports of Cat6A copper in one rack unit. In order to accommodate this, preterminated copper and fiber cables are the preferred choice for several reasons. First, the operator is less of a factor in the termination process required for either fiber optic or copper cables since no special skill set is required for termination or testing of preterminated cables. This eliminates the on-site polishing and termination for high count fiber optic links on the optical side, as well as the concern of alien crosstalk testing on the copper side. No external contractors are needed, saving your company both time and money. Secondly, preterminated cables eliminate excess loops, as they are cut to specified lengths. Preterminated copper or fiber optic cables can be customized to your specific needs for easy, perfectly cabled installation, eliminating the problem of excessive slack storage.
If your data center supports PoE enabled devices, such as cameras for surveillance and security or IP telephony, then copper cabling may be an appropriate choice for your facility. Choose products that allow you to build a foundation that will support both high-speed data and provide device power simultaneously. The migration to fiber in the effort to eliminate concerns of attenuation on long cabling runs and alien crosstalk effects for high density applications leaves the need for infrastructure supporting high bandwidth PoE devices somewhat out in the cold. Preterminated Cat6A panels and cabling systems offer the foundation you are looking for to support current and future PoE devices.
Cable management is the key for accessibility and a clean visual appearance of any data center. In recent years, this has become even more pressing as the value of rack space has driven densities for both copper and fiber applications. Combined with the high data counts for the 40G and 100GBit/s Ethernet standards, cable management has seen an unprecedented level of interest to accommodate the densities of today and anticipated densities of tomorrow. Ideally, choose products that ensure accessibility of all ports, have horizontal and vertical management mechanisms on the front of the panel, and smooth coupling mechanisms between the cassettes and the panel chassis.
A solid technical roadmap is key to installing infrastructure that is suitable for your current needs, as well as accommodating both anticipated and unanticipated needs for the future. Spend some time now researching the marketplace and choose products designed specifically with this in mind. Choose fiber cassettes that are upgradable from 10G Ethernet to either 40G or 100G, and panels suitable for all technologies. Preterminated trunk cables used for 10G today can be leveraged into 40 or 100G tomorrow, simply by installing the respective new technology cassettes that suit your bandwidth needs.
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