Expert Blog: Today’s Data Centers Call for Flexible Fiber Cable Infrastructure Solutions

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From edge data centers to hyperscale campuses, all mission-critical facilities face the same challenge of keeping up with skyrocketing demand for IT services. Not only must their server infrastructure provide compute power to support high-capacity applications. But their fiber infrastructure must also provide the speed, bandwidth, and optical performance to handle ever-increasing internal and external data traffic volumes.

Author: Randy Harris
Author: Randy Harris

International Data Corporation (IDC) projects that “41.6 billion connected devices will generate 79.4 zettabytes of data by 2025.” As emerging technologies like 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced data analytics, and virtual/augmented reality are adopted on a global scale, they will further drive the mission-critical facility manager’s need for high-performing, highly resilient and adaptable infrastructure.

Unfortunately, fiber cabling infrastructure is currently a major challenge in critical facilities. As data center operators try to deliver on insatiable speed and bandwidth requirements, they often find that their existing fiber installation has reached its predefined theoretical limit and optical power budget. But when they try to upgrade fiber connectivity, operators often discover that the problems of traditional cassette-based solutions are hindering their efforts. These problems include:

  • Selecting the correct interface and cable type
  • Mismatched connectors
  • Addressing reversed polarity issues
  • Lack of awareness for new standards
  • Optical loss from splicing and other fiber cabling connection techniques
  • Significant footprint within each rack unit (RU), minimizing the ability to scale for higher density deployments

In many ways, cassette-based solutions have become an obstacle to changing or upgrading fiber installations. A more flexible fiber cabling solution is needed to address the density vs. performance challenges that critical facilities face today.

Flexibility for Future Growth

Legrand’s Alignment Independent Multifiber (AIM) cabling system for example replaces pre-terminated cassette-based solutions with direct connections. Using a solution like this, facility managers can overcome common cable performance issues.

The AIM cabling solution enables 8-fiber trunk connectors to mate directly with an array of twin-fiber Mini Duplex Connector (MDC) patch cords via a conversion adapter panel. This allows data center operators to increase density drastically and speed up cable installation processes with significant time and cost savings.

The advantages of a cabling system with a setup like this include the following: improved optical performance, a smarter cabling design, simplified connectivity, faster changes, easier testing, reduced costs, Ultra-High Density (UHD) support, and faster deployment from storage.

Today’s data center designers are looking for simplicity combined with better performance in their fiber cabling connectivity. They don’t want to be locked into a particular architecture, nor do they want to have to deal with tangled LC components or MTP/MPO in boxes. Critical facilities need a simple, flexible, and reliable connectivity system that allows for easy changes and upgrades.

A direct connections-based fiber solution eliminates the messy, inefficient system of connecting or mating cassette-based cables. With direct fiber connections, it gives data center operators a fiber interconnect system that is ideal for quick architectural changes, since it is smaller, simpler, more intuitive, and easier to use.

It also lays the groundwork for fiber connectivity to support future innovations. With a simplified design, and architectural flexibility, direct fiber connections may offer massive scalability, with an almost unlimited migration path. As data centers continue to upgrade infrastructure with high-density deployments, direct fiber connections ensure that a fiber connectivity architecture can be easily reconfigured to support changes.

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