Data Center Structured Cabling

Posted byVijay Gupta13/05/20200 Comment(s)

In today's high-density data center, a well-designed structured cabling system increases uptime, scalability and return on investment while simultaneously decreasing your technology footprint and operating expenses.

AC/DC power, ground, copper and fibre optic are the main types of network cabling used in data centers. The interface that is available on the equipment used in the data center is the primary means for determining which type of cabling should be used. The network data cabling may also be selected based upon the bandwidth requirements of the equipment being used in the data center.

Cabling within a data center may be either structured or unstructured. Structured cabling uses predefined standards-based design with predefined connection points and pathways. The cabling used in a structured wiring design is specified by the bandwidth requirements of the system and is tested to ensure proper performance. The cables used in a structured wiring system will be well organized and labelled. Although a structured cabling system may take longer to install and have a higher initial cost, the operational cost will ultimately be lower, and the life cycle of the system will be longer when compared to an unstructured system.


Basics of Structured or Unstructured Cabling:

Unstructured cabling system represents a jumbled mess of cables when the optical links are deployed from device to device without the use of patch panel. Because of this, the unstructured infrastructure lacks order and can easily become congested with the number of optical patch cords. The routing of new patch cords can be a hassle since the lack of order requires the patch cords to be routed through undesirable places, for instance, the floor or the ceiling. Additionally, the data centers having unstructured infrastructure are prone to overheating as the congestion leads to restricted air flow.

As the name suggests, the structured cabling system is a sophisticated network of wires and cables that are managed through patch panels for better control. Apart from the usual expenses, the structured cables require additional investment in the form of pre-terminated MPO cabling to help create a systemized cabling infrastructure. Because of this, the entire infrastructure is easily scalable and much easier to manage. Apart from the downsides of expensive nature and link-loss budget, the structured cabling infrastructure still remains a favourite choice among many organizations due to the ease of use that accompanies it. So, the aspect of well-organized cables easily trumps the unstructured cabling infrastructure.

The unstructured cabling infrastructure has high energy costs, a limited life cycle and is difficult to expand when it comes to introducing new devices to the existing system. It has low installation costs and can be easily set up. However, the lack of order causes it to face excessive downtime that impacts the overall performance. Comparatively, the structured infrastructure is difficult to install, has high installation costs; however, the high performance and its easily buildable nature easily trumps its downsides. That said, choosing the infrastructure solely comes to your preferences and building space.


Best Suitable Fiber , Copper or Both for Data Cabling Center:

The next step in building a suitable infrastructure is choosing a type of cable for the purpose of data transmission. Earlier, industrialists relied on copper wires or coaxial cables to meet the data center demands. On the other hand, the introduction of the fibre optic cables has been garnering attention and praise due to its high performance. That said, it is not necessary that you also make a switch to the latter option since copper cables are equal to fibre optics when it comes to great performance. One exceeds where one lacks and where one lacks the other one exceeds. To better understand which will be better for your data center, we have broken down the qualities of both the options:


Copper Cables:

The performance of copper cables exceeds when it comes to data centers. Apart from being a suitable option, the copper wires have low overall costs accompanied by lower operational expenditures. That said, opting with the best copper wire will not solve all your problems as you would still need high-quality patch panels, connectors (Cat 6 connectors, etc), patch cords, termination and much more to amplify its performance.

Benefits of choosing copper or coaxial cable for cabling purposes:

  • It can transfer a higher data rate over a longer distance of several meters. Usually, the data transference depends on the network speed which makes copper ideal for the usage within the data centers.
  • It transfers data at the highest available bandwidth when it comes to several servers in a single rack or between various switches present in a group.
  • When it comes to costs, copper cables offer a cheaper solution compared to fibre optics. Keeping this factor in mind while designing larger data centers can save up millions in dollars.
  • The copper cables consume less power. Their thermal design, they do not require excessive cooling which means you could save up some more by opting for this option.
  • Copper cables experience less downtime and improved performance since they have 50 million hours in MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures).
  • Four to eight meters of copper cable can easily provide a bandwidth of around 100Gbps. This makes them a suitable choice for data centers that are focused on efficiency and performance.


Fibre Optics:

Data centers require cables and wires that could meet with their requirements for high reliability, enhanced performance, and high bandwidth data transfer capabilities. Fibre optics is not far behind when it comes to meeting with these requirements. Here are some of the other benefits one could avail once they choose fibre optics:

  • When it comes to delivering high bandwidth, the fibre optics is unmatched. No other type of cables has yet been made to handle the same amount of bandwidth transmission.
  • Fibre optics offer low power loss which allows them to transmit signals at longer distances without affecting the signals’ quality.
  • It has resistance to electromagnetic interference which means it can perform well in environments surrounded by heating, ventilation, and/or other sources of electromagnetic interference.
  • Since the data is transferred through the light in these cables, there is a significantly low-security risk.
  • Compared with the copper cables, fibre optics come in a small diameter that saves up space and creates room for other cables.
  • The biggest advantage of fibre optics is that it can accommodate the growing needs of bandwidth. This means that you would not need to replace the existing infrastructure. Instead, you can add new equipment to existing infrastructure to meet with the increased bandwidth requirements.
  • So, which one is better for your data centers? If the truth is told, both offer some amazing features and benefits. However, it is extremely rare for an organization to prefer one cabling choice over the other. In more than one instances, many of the organizations have learned to work both together for optimized results.
  • With the help of a fibre media converter, both the cables can work together allowing the industries to benefit from increased performance. If your data canter can accommodate both the cables, then it is best to opt for the amalgamation of fibre optics with copper/coaxial cables.
  • Since the data center cabling is the lifeline of your business, it is appropriate to spend some time designing the overall infrastructure before hiring the appropriate parties to start with the building process.


Right Cabling Design

There are two major cabling designs in data centers: horizontal cabling and backbone cabling. The horizontal cabling supports mechanical termination, patch cords, and horizontal cross-connect when it comes to the Horizontal Distribution Area (HDA). In addition, the horizontal cabling supports all types of cabling options, i.e. fibre optics, copper or the combination of both.

On the other hand, the backbone cabling focuses on the simplification of the data center's design since it supports mechanical termination, patch cords, and main connects to other parts of the data center. Because of this, backbone cabling is better managed; however, the problem arises when the cabling is to be done in a distributed data center environment or in one that has multiple entrances.

There is another approach to the cabling design called zone cabling. This cabling design is also great; however, it can add up to the overall costs since it requires tons of moves, changes, and additions. Also, this approach is rendered useless when it comes to a cross-connector channel in the data centers.

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