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Multiple medias increasingly necessary as data center networks advance

By Max Burkhalter
January 15, 2013

Diversity is nice in many areas, but it is downright challenging in a data center network. However, advanced Ethernet capabilities are increasingly needed in many data center environments and we may not be able to get away with single-media setups for much longer.

What most current data center networks look like
If you look at most data centers, you will see enough copper cabling to make a copper miner jealous. Category cables going from devices to patch panels, direct-attach category cabling setups, copper backhaul, copper-based storage networks and other types of network infrastructure is largely built on copper in the contemporary data center, with fiber only really playing a role in the backhaul, which isn't really visible and operates in a background function.

This makes the data center fairly simple from a networking perspective, as you can build a high-bandwidth fiber backhaul system, throw down media converters to attach it to an Ethernet switch and then go crazy with copper everywhere else in the facility.

According to a recent Cabling Installation & Maintenance magazine report, this type of network setup may not be viable for long in many data centers.

Considering the multi-media data center
The news source explained that advanced Ethernet solutions are emerging and forcing many businesses to take a new look at how their data center network operates. While these advances have left many to wonder if an all-fiber setup could become necessary, copper will, in all likelihood, remain viable. As a result, IT managers have to think about a multi-media environment in which copper and fiber systems interact with each other to control costs while optimizing performance - enter media conversion.

Fiber to Ethernet media converters allow organizations to establish a copper and fiber setup with relative ease, as they can use fiber wherever they want and then install a media converter to transition to copper. This allows companies to support advanced Ethernet capabilities in a more cost-efficient way by gaining access to the performance and bandwidth capabilities they need without having to deal with an all-fiber setup that would be extremely expensive and difficult to establish. Furthermore, this type of setup enables organizations to future proof their network by establishing enough bandwidth flexibility to meet networking needs that are not yet present, but will be during the next few years.

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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