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Copper hanging on in the data center

By Donna Donnawitz
July 3, 2014

Copper's days are numbered. There will probably come a time when fiber-optic cables become the exclusive media format in the data center, especially as bandwidth need continue to escalate. However, that time has not come ye and while a large-scale move toward fiber is underway, many companies are still finding uses for copper, making fiber to Ethernet media converters a critical requirement. A recent study from IHS found that copper's continued relevance is contributing to a 4.5 percent revenue increase in the data center cabling sector as a whole, with both fiber and copper fueling this growth, DataCenter Dynamics reported.

Copper's continued role in the data center
According to the news source, fiber is becoming more popular, less expensive and a better option for data center deployments. At the same time, standards bodies and industry leaders continue to develop advanced copper standards thatmake the technology a good option in data centers. The end result is an environment in which copper is still taking the larger market share, but fiber is catching up.Sarah McElroy, an analyst for IHS, explained that there is one unified principle in both the fiber and copper markets - a move away from older technologies.

"In both copper and fiber markets, growth of older cable types is slowing or declining as customers adopt newer technologies,"McElrory told DataCenter Dynamics. "There is also a very gradual shift from copper products to fiber products. Essentially, the market is evolving in two ways."

At this stage, copper is holding fast in the data center, but fiber is rising quickly. IHS found that the LAN market is approximately 1.4 percent larger than the data center segment, but fiber is rising so quickly in the data center that data center-related fiber revenues are outpacing those associated with LANs. McElroy told the news source that the data center is proving a hotbed for investments in advanced cabling systems.

Supporting environments with multiple cabling formats
Fiber's rise and copper's insistence on remaining relevant is leaving data center operators in a tricky situation. Finding ways to mix and match between fiber and copper is key to optimizing the cost-to-performance ratio of the network. Media converters play a vital role in this process as the technology enables IT leaders to smoothly switch between cabling types without having to deal with performance degradationor complex integration challenges.

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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