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Cabling decisions playing larger role in data center development

By Donna Donnawitz
June 1, 2012
Just a few years, most data center would have had fiber-optic cable infrastructure in their backhaul network and maybe as part of their SAN. Now, more operators have to seriously consider the possibility of installing optical infrastructure throughout their facility, or at least in areas with particularly demanding data throughput requirements. A recent Data Center Journal report explained that shifts in the copper cabling market are combining with a growing need for the performance capabilities of optical networks to make cabling decisions much more difficult in the data center.

Copper cabling still remains the most popular option for most data center network functions, as the technology can handle relatively fast speeds and is still fairly inexpensive. However, the news source said that copper cost have been incredibly inconsistent since just prior to, and during the recession. Over the course of the past few years, costs have risen considerably. Furthermore, they still stand at pre-recession levels and have not shown signs of falling. As a result, the price of copper cabling, while still lower than optical infrastructure, is high enough that more data center operators may consider implementing optical solutions in more areas.

Cost is not the only factor pointing toward optical network deployment. The report said performance demands are shifting in the data center, with more operators requiring high speed and bandwidth capabilities throughout different parts of the infrastructure. As a result, it is no longer viable to implement copper cabling everywhere and expect the network to keep up with demand. Instead, optical networking solutions are expanding beyond backhaul and SAN systems and being used for a more diverse range of functions.

The increased cost of copper is combining with the rising need for high-performance optical technology to create an environment in which cabling needs to be deployed more strategically throughout data centers, the report said.

One solution to address the complexity in cabling systems is to use fiber-to-Ethernet media conversion tools. These solutions allow organizations to more easily switch between copper and fiber infrastructure. As a result, companies can implement cabling more tactically to deal with specific operational requirements while also optimizing the price-to-performance ratio by seamlessly switching back and forth between copper and optical networking systems as needed. This allows data center operators to ensure the network always meets performance requirements without having to incur the costs of an all-fiber system.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.


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