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Patch cables need to be handled with care in the data center

By Max Burkhalter
January 18, 2012
Data center operators are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of the network in the data center, and working to install high-performance technologies and core cabling infrastructure to support rising bandwidth needs. However, this is leading many operators to focus almost exclusively on the permanent network link and other key solutions, ignoring smaller elements of the network, such as patch cables, Cabling Installation & Maintenance reported.

The news source likened a data center's network to a road system when explaining the importance of patch cables. Essentially, the permanent data center link is like a major highway, with all of the primary equipment serving as major roads. Patch cables may only be small local streets in this analogy, but the report explained that a pothole-ridden, hard to navigate local road will make it impossible for cars to easily get to the highway. In the same way, inadequate or lackluster patch cable infrastructure will reduce data transit speeds from devices out to the main network channels, detracting from overall performance.

The core problem when it comes to patch cables, stems from the actual physical wires, the news source said. Citing a report from the Communications Cable and Connectivity Association, the news source explained a high percentage of patch cables that are manufactured by non-major brands are failing within data centers. When a patch cable fails, the issue is not just performance, which is hurt by extra interference, poor connections and other problems. The problem is also physical and tangible in nature. Problems with the copper wiring can lead to sparks, fires, less control over electric signal transmission and other circumstances that can damage data center equipment.

The need for more advanced networking systems, right down to the patch cable infrastructure, stems largely with trends in virtualization, cloud computing and data center consolidation. Not too long ago, many data center operators began virtualizing servers, allowing them to run multiple virtual machines on a single physical device, improving utilization rates. This technology eventually created a path to the cloud, a technology that depends heavily on communication between virtual machines, regardless of which server they are on. As the cloud has exploded, the need for sophisticated data center architectures has become more important. In response, many businesses are consolidating multiple facilities into a single virtualized data center that holds more virtual machines, but fewer physical devices. This means more data is in less space, making the network a major priority.

Perle’s wide range of 1 to 48 port Perle Console Servers provide data center managers and network administrators with secure remote management of any device with a serial console port. Plus, they are the only truly fault tolerant Console Servers on the market with the advanced security functionality needed to easily perform secure remote data center management and out-of-band management of IT assets from anywhere in the world.


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