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Using high density fibre infrastructure to drive data centre performance

Thu 13 Oct 2016 | Stephen Morris

Data center high density fibre infrastructure

stephen-morrisStephen Morris, EMEA Data Centre Connectivity Solutions at Panduit Europe Ltd, discusses how integrating the latest fibre cabling solutions into your data centre can offer higher density, while simplifying management and maximising return…

The growth in Big Data and the requirements for IoT are having a massive impact on the volume of data transmission projected for the future, which is affecting how enterprise and data centres develop their infrastructure.

Global IP traffic will pass the zettabyte (ZB) by the end of 2016, reaching 2.3 ZB per year by 2020. It is predicted that the number of connected devices will exceed 200 billion by 2020, whilst IP traffic in Western Europe will reach 28 exabytes per month by 2020.

Increase in the value of data is escalating, putting pressure on data centre operators to reduce costly unplanned downtime and plan migration strategies to implement higher bandwidth infrastructure to handle this exponential increase in demand.

A key aspect for data centre owners and operators within this growing volume of data is how to improve uptime. The number of unexpected outages has massively increased over the past few years, and the maximum cost per outage has more than doubled over six years, from $1 million to $2.4 million (see Figure 1.), while 91% of data centres will experience unplanned downtime during their first two years of operation. With 59% of downtime attributed to the physical layer, operators can reduce the risk of expensive outages through the right infrastructure choice.

Figure 1:

Figure 1: Ponemon Institute – Cost of Data Centre Outages January 2016

High fibre port density

IT managers must constantly be watchful for new methods to increase transaction rates. Increasingly, customers are demanding and paying for higher performance and require continuity of service to match those levels, with fibre cabling infrastructure becoming a requirement rather than a luxury.

The latest fibre cabling solutions not only provide the future-proofing for new build data centres but also retrofit into existing centres, offering the capability to optimise performance within existing space. This allows data centre owners and operators to extend their business opportunity and support customers’ requirement for higher data rates.

The requirement for higher port density is evident; however it is simply not satisfactory for higher density cabling solutions to come with a greater risk of downtime, or to become the bottleneck for bandwidth growth. Not all fibre cable management systems are the same, and evaluating nuances between systems before investing in the ‘physical layer’ is now more critical than ever before.

Valuing global affiliations

Where new services need to be deployed quickly, and projects managed on time and on budget, more data centre owners are aligning themselves with global manufacturers to benefit from the strength of an OEM’s regional service and support. These strategic affiliations are becoming a critical success-factor in data centre operations.

As the data centre market continues to witness mergers and consolidation, an increasing number of DC operators move towards global procurement agreements. These arrangements ensure that product specification, process and materials are unified across multiple data centre sites – nationally, regionally or around the globe. Data centre owners can then control equipment quality across cohesive corporate criteria, which provides consistent builds and guarantees high-performance results.

There is a small community of global physical infrastructure suppliers that manufacture and supply a broad solution on a regional basis with guaranteed cohesive global product standards across the range, no matter where manufacturing is located. This eliminates supply chain risk, as well as the potential risk from third-party suppliers introducing non-standard or components of inconsistent quality.

Growth of transmission speeds


Figure 2 – To Terabit Speeds * Ethernet alliance

Figure 2 – To Terabit Speeds (Ethernet alliance)

Data transmission growth, driven currently by cloud and webscale operations has, in some instances, outpaced the standards organisation’s ability to formalise specifications for higher speed cables and components.

This has produced a landscape of alternative infrastructure solutions. The hurdle effect has meant some DC owners are implementing high-performance infrastructure based on new to market technologies, rather than taking advantage of the standards committees ratified upgrades now available to installed backbone systems.

It is important that the TIA Standards Committees for fibre (e.g. Wideband Multimode Fibre Standard, TIA-492AAAE) maintains the initiative in the development of the next generation 100G over Multi-Mode (MM) fibre and takes the lead role in the advancement of future fibre transmission standards.

The latest high bandwidth infrastructure solutions provide a range of innovations that allow data centre operators a clear migration pathway that permits upgrading to the prevailing technology, whilst offering a scalable solution that expands with the customers’ requirement.

Extending current lifecycles on inventory improves ROI and lowers capital expense (Capex).  The latest development from the TIA Standards has created a new speed path for two fibre Multi-Mode LC connectivity to support at least 10X the bandwidth previously thought capable for that connector type, expanding it from 1G/10G/40G up to at least 100G. This again expands the options available to the operator to fine-tune the infrastructure design, utilising the solutions that are most efficient for the business’ requirements.

Reaching 100G and beyond

Figure 3 – High Performance Server Shipments

Figure 3 – High-performance server shipments

Traditional high-density fibre enclosures support the port counts required, but their design typically results in difficult-to-manage clusters of cables, often resulting in difficulties with installation, servicing and MACs. This impacts service tasks and can cause disruption to adjacent circuits, which may lead to costly outages. In addition, the clusters can reduce air flow in the cabinet, reducing cooling efficiency leading to increased costs.

One solution to affordable fibre cabling systems requires a new rationale regarding the fundamental components of the system. Enclosure systems manufacturers have worked with high-performance data centre operators to deliver easier installation and MACs as well as flexibility to easily migrate to higher data speeds as these are required by the business.

Highly-flexible higher density formats

Utilising our latest fibre cabling system, the risk of downtime associated to the physical layer can be reduced by up to 50% compared to many market alternatives that offer similar port density. The system has been designed to offer the highest performance levels across today’s requirements and for ease of migration to future Ethernet and Fibre Channel speeds, as well as ease of use with tool-less upgrades and 1:1 seamless migration path, e.g. from 10G to 100G and beyond.

The fibre cabling solution introduces a split cassette tray concept, which mitigates the risk of downtime during MACs and also makes it easier to scale, allowing increased fibre density or port count as required.

Image 1: Split tray with 2x 6-port cassette   

Image 1: Split tray with 2x 6-port cassette

Image 2: 12-port cassette

Image 2: 12-port cassette

System specific MPO cable assemblies provide a highly flexible, six permutation cabling solution that can improve test result accuracy and performance certainty. The MPO ensures the ‘single jumper’ reference test method can always be used, regardless of the gender of the infrastructure. This is considered the most reliable method by industry experts.

As bandwidth increases, e.g. from 10G to 40G/100G, the system Insertion Ioss (IL) budget tightens; therefore it is essential that the performance of the network is measured accurately at implementation, to ensure forward performance trend data is consistent. Reuse of pre-installed cabling assemblies (if migrating to parallel optics for 40G/100G) eliminates waste, since gender and polarity can be changed as required in the field with the system-specific MPO.

The introduction of a ‘wide’ LC-MPO 24 fibre cassette presents a structured cabling Capex cost saving of up to 25%, compared to competing smaller format cassette or other similar solutions. The wide cassette is highly relevant for extending the capabilities of two multi-mode fibre assemblies, in LC connector format, extending the lifecycle to support 100G speeds.

Image 3: Easy cassette selection within the split trays

Image 3: Easy cassette selection within the split trays

The latest high-performance cabling systems enable data centre operators to stay focused on delivering critical services that drive business value – removing concerns of bandwidth bottlenecks and downtime typically associated with high performance, highly dense fibre network infrastructure.

In the past three years, the value of data centre infrastructure has grown by 40% as more data migrates onto each fibre circuit. The latest fibre cabling solutions offer a highly flexible fibre infrastructure that addresses today’s requirement for increasingly higher density, delivering simplified management while helping data centre operators maximise return on assets and minimise downtime.

This complete integrated fibre system can save up to two-thirds of the RU space compared to 24-port systems, for both LC and MPO connectivity, and provides no loss of density at the panel when migrating LC ports to MPO. The system is engineered to accommodate the dynamic lifecycle of today’s high-performance data centres, delivering serviceability, network reliability and ease of deployment.

Experts featured:

Stephen Morris

Senior Product Manager, connectivity solutions
Panduit Data Centre Infrastructure

Companies featured:


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