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MPO cabling rising as data center solution

By Max Burkhalter
August 2, 2012
Data center networks are no longer able to function adequately using legacy network architectures. The disparity between server and network systems has become so great in an era dominated by cloud computing and virtualization that companies cannot easily support innovative technologies without improving their network. As a result, many experts agree that more organizations are turning to fiber-optic cable connections to support internal data center requirements.

According to a recent Light Wave report, many data center operators are implementing Multifiber Push-On network infrastructure to support their optical cabling needs. An MPO setup includes an optical cable that features 12 distinct fibers, each approximately the diameter of a human hair, bundled into a single compact wire that can support parallel optics and offer superior performance.

While the technology has a great deal of potential is also comes attached to a considerable testing and standardization burden, the news source explained. To test an MPO cable setup, fan-out methods have to be used to access each of the 12 individual optical fibers. Manual processes then have to be completed to perform tracing and testing on each individual fiber, leading to complex equations that make human error a serious possibility.

To illustrate how time consuming the process of testing MPO cables can be, the news source pointed to one company that has just 48 MPO trunks, but also uses a 30,000 MPO data center installation. This means that each of those 30,000 MPO cables, even though they are only attached to 48 trunks, has to be fanned out and all 12 optical links have to be tested. A single fiber can be evaluated in just 10 seconds, but the entire process would still end up taking at least 3,120 hours if each is tested individually. Furthermore, the entire setup would have to be retested if the company upgrades to a faster speed within the network.

The challenges that come with MPO setups represent what many businesses are facing in the data center. Upgrades are becoming critical, but the process of overhauling the network can be incredibly challenging because old systems have to be taken out and completely replaced. One way to simplify this process is through media conversion, as it allows companies to overhaul the setup with fiber where they need it, but connect back to legacy copper systems where they can get away with it.

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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