Latest Trends in Data Center Cabling

Data centers across the world have turned a keen eye toward structured cabling.

Optimized efficiency and effectiveness are being achieved in data centers using structured cabling, and it is quickly becoming recognized as a go-to means for creating highly-capable network infrastructures. As new network technologies continue to flourish and consumers demand higher bandwidths, data centers must constantly scale and evolve to deliver optimal data storage and processing.

Without proper adaptation to new technologies, critical system support in data centers is hindered and the effectiveness of the services provided is curbed. Structured cabling upholds strong infrastructures that can scale with ease, and most importantly, it augments enhanced functionality.

To keep up with the ever-changing landscape of data center networking, it’s imperative to stay up to date on the latest data center cabling trends.

Certifying Data Center Structured Cabling Is the New Norm

Cloud computing combined with bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies are altering network fabrics. A mixture of increased mobility preferences and magnified inclinations for real-time access to data are also playing a large role in network fabrication. Not only are we seeing changes in the physical layers of data centers, but also in the actual foundations themselves.

According to an industry leader among the network cabling industry, we are observing a common use of 25GB and 40GB ethernet being used over copper balanced twisted pair cabling, and to be expected, we are going to see an increase in NBase-T, which will allow existing copper cabling to be reused at higher data rates. With all of this new technology, data centers are generating greater levels of functionality, but only when the networks themselves are properly structured, thus being a major contributor to the increase in certifying data cabling.

Certifying the data cabling through Certification Testing brings forth an array of advantages, especially in relation to installation and operational costs. Certifying proves to be far more cost-efficient when compared to repairs. The Gartner Group conducted a study and revealed an average hour of downtime costs a data center $42,000.

And according to the Contingency Planning Group, a single hour of downtime to fix repairs in an enterprise data center can lead to a mind-boggling loss of $6,500,000. The larger the data center, the greater the loss.

Data center Certification Testing also proves to be of benefit from a warranty perspective. Without certified installation, warranties are often void. And even with the best of the latest cabling technology and equipment, the efficacy of the created network is only as good as the installation itself. Network owners and OEM manufacturers alike find comfort in Certification Testing because it ensures the network has been properly installed.

Increased Preference to Be a LEED-Certified Building

The digital transformation of the lighting industry is upon us. We are seeing an increased use of low voltage lighting being run over power-over-ethernet networks, which is translating into highly intelligent lighting solutions. For the data center, this has a huge benefit.

Low voltage lights optimize efficiency because they require less energy to operate. This reduces the carbon footprint in a data center and it also minimizes cabling and infrastructure installation costs because low voltage cabling is less expensive compared to high voltage cabling.

Lighting in a data center only accounts for three to five percent of its energy load, but it ultimately impacts the entire cabling infrastructure. Low voltage cabling can be tied into the existing cabling to provide power to fixtures, which eliminates the expense of having to deploy AC line voltage cabling. More so, it helps minimize heat throughout the aisles of the data center.

Heat in a data center can soften cables and minimize connection speeds. Reducing heat translates into higher levels of efficiency and greater bandwidth capabilities.

Superior Support of Cloud-Based Services Is Necessary

Unified cloud initiatives are taking a front and center role in the data center industry. Data centers are constantly finding themselves faced with challenges that directly correlate to private cloud infrastructures. Instead of building networks that are designed to meet the current needs of consumers, data centers are having to construct networks that anticipate their future needs. This means the creation of infrastructures that can easily scale to accommodate phased implementation of cloud services is a must.

Effective cloud computing is based on reliable networks. A single outage at one data center can impact an entire network of individuals and organizations. And with no two data center networks being exactly the same, it can be difficult to create an overall architecture that minimizes downtime when an outage occurs, thus being one of the main reasons we are noticing an increase in the creation of hybrid cloud architectures; this type of network enables data centers to tap into private and public cloud resources to ensure data is safely secured and easily accessible even when cabling repairs need to be made. The support of cloud-based services takes us to our next trend — network virtualization services.

Expanded Deployment of Network Virtualization Services

Recent studies how the majority of small, medium, and enterprise-level companies are operating their workloads on virtual machines, with data centers accommodating 95 to 100 percent of this virtualization. As virtualization technology continues to become more advanced, we are witnessing extreme improvements in scalability possibilities, and it’s also proving to be one of the most cost-efficient networking options.

Structured cabling allows data centers to easily overlay their existing network architectures with new virtual networks. And with proper planning from the IT department, the data cabling can deliver maximum efficiency. Not only can it increase capacity capabilities, but it can reduce power usage by lowering idle times, which decreases overhead expenses and improves profit margins.

It is imperative to understand that structured cabling and virtualization have a shared effect — just the same as a data center’s cabling infrastructure will impact virtualization, its means of virtualization will also impact the cabling efficiency. For example, virtualization is comprised of using various forms of shared storage. Different types of file systems, such as Fibre Channel, NAS, iSCSI, etc., are used to connect web servers to a network. Without robust cabling, routing and forwarding between virtual networks are limited, which can lead to costly instances of downtime. As virtualization continues to become a standard technology deployed in data centers, structured cabling will increase in use as well.

Passive Optical Networks Are Becoming Popular

Consumers are turning to the use of electronic devices more and more. They are using them for personal reasons, such as mobile banking, as well as for work-related activities, like collaborating via instant messaging with clients and coworkers. As they continue to increase their demand for real-time data and application access, data centers must constantly expand their bandwidth capabilities. Cat 5 and 6 cables are not accommodating this goal. Workstations that are a great distance from their data distribution centers are unable to process data at high speeds.

Fortunately, fiber optic cabling is serving as a viable solution to bandwidth issues. Network strength can be maintained when using fiber optic cabling even when the workstations are a great distance from their data distribution centers. Using a fiber optical splitter, the cable itself can be connected to high-speed networks that are dispersed among multiple distribution points.

Ultimately, this means high bandwidth is achievable regardless of how far the workstation and distribution center are from one another. And gone are the days of measuring network speeds in Mbps. Thanks to passive optical cabling, we are now able to achieve network speeds that are measured in Gps. In fact, 10Gps networks are now the new standard.

Conclusion

Structured data cabling is essential to the infrastructure of high-end data centers. This type of cabling easily allows you to scale on an as-needed basis and it provides a plethora of cost and efficiency benefits. From network virtualization services to passive optical networks, the future of data center cabling is now upon us and it’s your responsibility to uphold the integrity of your center’s cabling architecture.

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