You are on page 1of 30
sponsored by: editorial Guide standards and Cabling options for data Center networks Data centers present
sponsored by: editorial Guide standards and Cabling options for data Center networks Data centers present

sponsored by:

sponsored by: editorial Guide standards and Cabling options for data Center networks Data centers present the

editorial Guide

standards and Cabling options for data Center networks

Data centers present the most opportunity and

greatest challenges for designers, installers and

managers of networks and structured cabling

systems today. Industry standards, combined

with new developments by vendors across the

networking spectrum, provide a technology

roadmap for those who must plan and implement

structured cabling systems in data centers of all

sizes. This Cabling Installation & Maintenance

editorial guide provides information on the latest

standards developments as well as cabling-media

options, to guide professionals planning long-

term support for their data center applications.


TIA approves 942-A data center standard









standard 8 10GBase-T equipment availability 17 Smarter, greener infrastructure 23 Prospects for all-optical cabling

23 Prospects for all-optical cabling

TIA approves 942-A data center standard

Among the changes from the standard’s original version, the revision recognizes Category 6 and recommends Category 6A for horizontal copper cabling.

by PATrIck McLAuGhLIn

t he teleCommuniCations industry Association (TIA) Engineering

Committee TR-42 Telecommunications Cabling Systems has approved

the publication of TIA-942-A, the revised Telecommunications

Infrastructure Standard for Data Centers.

The revised standard was several years in development. In May 2010, Cabling Installation & Maintenance published an article authored by TIA-942-A co-editor Jonathan Jew, president of J&M Consultants. The article outlined the changes from the original TIA-942 standard that were anticipated to be included in TIA-942-A.

Recently, Jew summarized for us the changes in the new standard as follows.

Incorporate Addenda to TIA-942:

:: Addendum 1 - Additional coaxial cabling specifications and revised distances

:: Addendum 2 - General updates including revised tiering, the addition of Category 6A, 3-level lighting protocol, revised temperature and humidity limits

Restructuring standards - Integrate into the TIA-568-C series:

:: Reference generic cabling topology (horizontal = cabling subsystem 1, 2 distributor C = MC, B = IC, A = HC), terms, and MICE (mechanical ingress, climatic, electromagnetic) environmental classifications

TIA approves 942-A data center standard

:: Move bonding and grounding content to TIA-568-B

:: Move administration content to TIA-606-B

:: Move racks and cabinets, power and telecom separation, environmental requirements (temperature and humidity) to TIA-569-C and new addendum

:: Move outside plant pathways to TIA-758-B

Harmonize with international standards:

:: Adopt the terms Equipment Outlet (EO) and External Network Interface (ENI - interface between external and internal networks in data center located in the entrance room)

:: Standardize on LC for 1 or 2 fibers and MPO for more than 3 fibers on a single connector

:: Remove distance limitation for horizontal cabling of optical fiber (based on application)

Higher Bandwidth Applications

:: Remove support for Category 3 and Category 5e for horizontal cabling, retain for backbone cabling for console connections, telephone/modem lines, WAN circuits

:: Minimum requirement of Category 6 for horizontal cabling, recommendation is Category 6A (or higher)

:: Remove support for OM1 and OM2; minimum requirement is OM3; recommendation is OM4

:: Retain singlemode fiber and 734/735 coax

Energy efficiency:

:: New section on energy efficiency

:: Wider range of temperature and humidity (see TIA-568-C) based on new ASHRAE TC 9.9 guidelines

:: Use of enclosures or enclosure systems to improve energy efficiency (cabinets with isolated supply or return, cabinet cooling systems, hot or cold aisle

3 containment, panels and cable management that reduce air bypass, brushes/

TIA approves 942-A data center standard

grommets on floor tiles)

:: 3-Level Lighting Protocol - lighting levels based on occupancy and function (1. Lighting levels are minimal when the space is not occupied - enough for video surveillance. 2. Initial entry - safe passage. 3. Occupied - 500 lux.)

:: Recommend the use of energy efficient lighting such as LED

Larger and modular data centers:

:: New space, Intermediate Distribution Area (IDA), containing the Intermediate Crossconnect (IC)

:: IDA also being adopted in ISO/IEC 24764 in new addendum, but will be called the Intermediate Distributor (ID)

:: Elimination of requirement that centralized optical fiber technologies be limited to one building to accommodate modular data centers using outdoor containers/modules

Coaxial cabling specs

The first addendum made to the original TIA-942 standard, which was incorporated into the 942-A revision, deals specifically with the deployment of coaxial-style cabling systems in data centers.

The addendum (and now the 942-A standard) includes four primary elements.

1) It specifies additional requirements for connectors to be used for 75-ohm coaxial cabling in data centers (Type 734 and 735 coaxial cabling).

2) It specifies testing requirements for 75-ohm coaxial cabling in data centers.

3) It provides an allowance for longer horizontal cabling originating from the main distribution area (MDA) for coaxial cabling.

4) It amends E1, T1, E3 and T3 maximum circuit distances specified in Annex A of


Comments from tia

Recently, Jonathan Jew and TIA’s associate vice president of technology and 4 standards, Herb Congdon, discussed 942-A in a video produced by TIA. Their

TIA approves 942-A data center standard

discussion included some of the standard’s implications for designers, installers and users of structured cabling systems.

In that video, Jew noted, “To harmonize with international standards, we eliminated the 100-meter channel restriction for horizontal cabling using optical- fiber cabling. It’s now based on application, and not limited to 100 meters.”

He also provided some detail on the addition of the intermediate distribution area (IDA) and intermediate crossconnect (IC) to the standard: “To provide flexibility in new data center designs being developed, we added the IDA and IC. This allows you to support large data centers and modular data centers much more easily.”

Also in that video, Congdon offered, “Clearly in the data center world, where there’s concentrated data supply chain going in and out, higher data rates are necessary. Many of the changes made to the standard were done so data centers could support these higher data rates. The 40- and 100-Gbit data rates are out there now, products are being displayed, and the data center standard is ready to accommodate those through these revisions.”

Jew was then asked to speculate on the direction that the standard’s next revision might take. (ANSI TIA standards are due for affirmation, revision or withdrawal on a five-year cycle.) Jew responded, “We’ll probably be adding support for the next generation of Ethernet, so that will be 400-Gig or maybe Terabit Ethernet. We’re also in TIA TR-42 working on the next-generation balanced twisted-pair cabling, so it’s likely we will support that. And I think we’ll support something like 40-Gig over balanced twisted-pair cabling. We’ll also probably make some changes to support the evolving data center switch fabrics.”

In response to the same question, Congdon said, “I believe we’ll continue to see some evolution in energy efficiency and sustainable technologies that can be implemented in data centers and other locations. I think that by incorporating those into the data center standard, evaluating those technologies, we’ll continue to see some changes in our standards—not just the data center standard but others as well.”

5 Jew and Congdon also discussed energy efficiency as it relates to data center

TIA approves 942-A data center standard

operation. Jew discussed some of the specifications in 942-A that are also listed in this article, which are aimed at achieving energy efficiency.

Congdon spent some time discussing the Sustainable Technology Environments Program (STEP), of which TIA is a member.

The video can be viewed at

Not a Cabling Installation & Maintenance magazine subscriber? Click here to request a free subscription.

subscriber? Click here to request a free subscription. PATrIck McLAuGhLIn is chief editor of Cabling Installation

PATrIck McLAuGhLIn is chief editor of Cabling Installation & Maintenance.


10GBase-T equipment availability and the future of copper media

Summarizing 10GBase-T’s ABCs of availability, benefits and cost.

by rOn cATES, PLX Technology and VALErIE MAGuIrE, Siemon

W hile it may be so that good things come to those who wait, too much waiting can lead to uncertainty. Take 10GBase-T networking products, for example. The 10GBase-T standard published almost six years ago and the long wait for network

gear has provided fodder for the digital rumor mill to churn. This has led to the misperception that 10GBase-T is the end of the line for copper balanced twisted- pair media and network equipment. The fact is that the extended time to market can be explained by the recent economic recession and the desire to integrate significant power-efficiency enhancements into this new technology. These challenges have been overcome and all indicators are that adoption of 10GBase-T solutions is poised to take off in 2012.

This article presents the truths behind the myths surrounding 10GBase-T and the future of copper twisted-pair Ethernet applications.

10GBase-T network equipment is available and deployment rates are increasing. Although initially hampered by power- 8 hungry implementations,

initially hampered by power- 8 hungry implementations, Cabling Installation & Maintenance :: EDITOrIAL GuIDE

10GBase-T equipment availability and the future of copper media

today’s chip technology that delivers the 10GBase-T bit stream (also called a “PHY”) capitalizes on an advanced 40-nm lithography manufacturing process, which cuts power use, board size and cost. As a result, significant adoption of 10GBase-T technology is expected to begin in 2012. During this year, at least 20 new platforms (e.g. switches, servers and network interface cards [NICs]) using 10GBase-T PHY devices are expected to have broad market availability. In addition, a new market research report issued by The Linley Group forecasts more than 2.7 million ports of 10GBase-T PHYs to ship in 2012—a sharp rise from the 182,000 ports counted as shipped in 2011. The trend lines shown in the Figure below depict The Linley Group’s forecast for several different types of 10-Gbit/sec Ethernet applications over the next few years. Note that 10GBase-T is expected to achieve a dominant market position in 2014. The adoption rates forecasted by The Linley Group are consistent with the historical Ethernet adoption profile, whereby optical networking interfaces precede copper interfaces but copper port counts greatly outnumber optical port counts soon thereafter.


10GBase-T and copper balanced twisted-pair cabling offer unique benefits compared to other 10-Gbit/sec Ethernet solutions. With cost and power dissipation significantly reduced with the newer 40-nm PHY devices, and further reductions enabled by 28-nm devices expected in 2013, data center managers can now capitalize on the fundamental advantages offered by 10GBase-T technology, which include the following.

:: The ability to interoperate with legacy slower-speed Ethernet technologies through the function of auto-

Forecasted adoption rate of 10-Gbit/sec Ethernet applications Port count ×1,000 35,000 10GBASE-CR (direct attach
Forecasted adoption rate of 10-Gbit/sec
Ethernet applications
Port count ×1,000
10GBASE-CR (direct attach assemblies)
10GBASE-S, 10GBASE-L, and
10GBASE-E (optical ber)
10GBASE-KR (backplane)
(balanced twisted-pair)
Adoption year
Source: The Linley Group


:: The ease of deploying a copper balanced twisted-pair cabling system and the use of familiar cabling and connector interfaces

The Linley Group forecasts that 10GBase-T port shipments (purple line) will climb from 182,000 in 2011 to 2.7 million in 2012, and continue to climb rapidly thereafter.

10GBase-T equipment availability and the future of copper media

:: The flexibility of 100-meter, 4-connector structured cabling topologies to support additions, moves, and changes in local area network (LAN) and data center environments

:: The ability to deliver Power over Ethernet (PoE and PoE Plus)

Interoperability with legacy Ethernet equipment via auto-negotiation is of particular significance as it enables data center expansions and expenditures to occur incrementally. Rather than demanding a wholesale upgrade of all servers and switches to 10-Gbit/sec capability, which is necessary for non-negotiating Ethernet systems transmitting over optical-fiber media or direct-attach assemblies such as SFP+, 10GBase-T network equipment supports 10-Gbit/sec transmission to new servers and can also auto-negotiate down to 1-Gbit/sec (or slower) speeds to support legacy servers. In this way, data centers can deploy future-ready switching architectures. A 10GBase-T switch can communicate effectively with legacy 1-Gbit/ sec and 100-Mbit/sec servers today and allow 10-Gbit/sec servers to be introduced when required and supported by expense allocations tomorrow.

10GBase-T port power dissipation versus technology

Power dissipation (W/port) 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 130nm 65nm 40nm 28nm
Power dissipation (W/port)

Lithography manufacturing process type

The manufacturing process used to develop PHYs has an impact on the ultimate power dissipation of those PHYs. This chart shows that as the 10GBase-T manufacturing process is refined (from an original 130-nm lithography process to a second-generation 62-nm process, then the current 40-nm and anticipated future 28-nm processes), the Watt/ 10 port power-dissipation level decreases.

Another major catalyst to 10GBase-T adoption will be the introduction of LAN- on-motherboard (LoM) chips. Expected to be introduced in mid-2012, these devices will allow server manufacturers to also implement auto-negotiation technology into their gear. The implications of this development are quite profound, as for the first time servers will come preconfigured with Ethernet connections able to negotiate to 100-Mbit/sec, 1-Gbit/ sec or 10-Gbit/sec speeds depending on the capabilities of other devices in the network. The data center manager will want to be ready for this development by deploying 10GBase-T-capable switches that can extract the full capability of the server to which it is connected.

10GBase-T equipment availability and the future of copper media

10GBase-T PhY power consumption is well managed. 10GBase-T device power dissipation has been closely scrutinized and has been rapidly declining since the technology was first standardized by the IEEE 802.3 in 2006. Early PHY implementations were created using a 130-nm lithography manufacturing process, and they dissipated approximately 10W per port. By comparison, the 40- nm devices available today are capable of less than 4W-per-port dissipation. And the 28-nm devices anticipated in 2013 are expected to dissipate less than 2.5W per port. The figure on page 10 highlights this trend.

Two protocols can further improve power dissipation. In addition to the reductions afforded by advances in semiconductor technology, Base-T systems— and 10GBase-T in particular—are able to take advantage of some unique and standards-based algorithms that exploit the nature of computer traffic to further reduce power dissipation. In particular, there are opportunities to improve efficiency when network equipment is idle for both sustained, and very short, time periods.

Wake-on-LAN (WoL) is a new networking standard formed by the Advanced Manageability Alliance whereby network equipment, such as a server, is put in sleep mode until awakened by a special network signal called a “magic packet.” The server’s NIC reverts to a very low power-dissipation mode during the sleep period, but remains alert and waiting for the magic packet. Once the packet arrives, the server is awakened and normal operation is resumed. Because the wakeup time associated with WoL is typically tens of seconds, this power- management strategy is best suited for use when servers are expected to be idle for long periods of time, such as at night or during other lengthy periods of inactivity. Even the most active of data centers experiences periods of time in which only a portion of its capacity is needed. This is a natural consequence of over-building resources to accommodate peak compute demands and the temporal and seasonal fluctuation in those demands due to non-uniform user locations and time schedules.

WoL can take advantage of these demand fluctuations with startling results; putting even a single server with a typical power dissipation of 500W to sleep gains much more benefit than the difference in power of hundreds of transceiver 11 devices. Equally important, 10-Gbit/sec Ethernet deployed over optical media or

10GBase-T equipment availability and the future of copper media

SFP+ direct-attach assemblies is not designed to support the WoL protocol at this time and, as a result, these systems always dissipate their full power. WoL is an important strategy employed uniquely by 10GBase-T to reduce overall power consumption in the data center.

While WoL is designed for lengthy idle periods, another technology called Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) is specifically designed to take advantage of the bursty nature of computer traffic. It is the case that typical Ethernet traffic contains many gaps, which can range in duration from microseconds to milliseconds. Heretofore, these gaps have been filled with so-called “idle patterns” or waveforms containing no real computer information, but whose transitions can be used for maintaining clock synchronization between transceivers. The EEE algorithm exchanges those idle patterns for Low Power Idle (LPI) mode where very little power is dissipated.

The LPI mode used during idle periods requires a new signaling scheme composed of alerts over the line and alerts to and from station management. When in the LPI mode, a refresh signal is used to keep receiver parameters, such as timing lock, equalizer coefficients and canceller coefficients, current. These are also critical to enable fast transitions from LPI to active modes. Typical transition times from active to LPI mode and back are in the three-microsecond range, so implementation of EEE introduces minimal latency into the network.

The bottom line is that transceiver power savings using the EEE algorithm can range from 50 percent to 90 percent depending on actual data patterns. For example, a 28-nm 10GBase-T transceiver with a typical active mode power dissipation of 1.5W for 30-meter reach will dissipate only 750W when using the EEE algorithm with typical computer data patterns. Even better, system-level EEE optimizations implemented in switches and Ethernet controller silicon are expected to save far more power than EEE optimizations in the transceiver because the energy consumption of the entire switch or server (which is more than double the power per port of even the previous generation of transceivers) can be leveraged.

10GBase-T “short reach” mode is another power-dissipation improvement 12 strategy. Another feature present in 10GBase-T PHYs, which can greatly aid

10GBase-T equipment availability and the future of copper media

0 1,000 2,000 3,000 4,000 5,000 6,000 7,000 8,000

Per-port cost comparison, 10-Gbit/sec Ethernet and media types

QSFP + active optical assembly (15m)

QSFP + active module w/MTP jumper (15m)

QSFP + passive copper (7m)

SFP + active module w/LC jumpers (15m)

SFP + passive copper (7m)

CX4 passive copper (15m)

OM3/MTP multimode (30m, 2-connector)

OM3/LC multimode (110m, 2-connector)

Category 6A UTP - F/UTP (30m, 2-connector)

Category 7A S/FTP (30m, 2-connector)

Equipment Maintenance Channel/assembly


This per-port cost comparison for 10-Gbit/ sec Ethernet options shows that when equipment (server port and network interface card), media and annual maintenance costs are considered, the systems using balanced twisted- pair copper media are the

most cost-effective.

in the reduction of overall power dissipation, is the ability to automatically detect channel length between compliant transceivers. When the channel length is less than 100 meters, 10GBase-T transceivers are able to reduce their power dissipation while still maintaining fully compliant bit error rate (BER) performance. This so-called “short-reach” mode takes advantage of the larger signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) present due to lower signal attenuation in short channels, and the power-dissipation reductions can be dramatic. For example, because the signal strength at the transceiver is significantly larger if it is attenuated by only 10 meters of cabling as opposed to 100 meters of cabling, transmit power can be significantly reduced without adversely affecting BER. It is a common misperception that short-reach mode is an on/off condition that is directly tied to a specific link length (e.g. 30 meters). In fact, the short-reach mode power-dissipation profile is contiguous and scalable versus length.

In short-reach mode, not only can transmit power be reduced, but the number of filter taps used for echo cancellation and line equalization also can be curtailed and powered down internally in the device. As an example, a transceiver typically with 3.5W of power dissipation when connected to a 100-meter channel can exhibit power dissipation of only 2.5W when connected to a 30-meter channel, or less than 2W when connected to a 10-meter channel. Because many newer data center configurations rely on shorter cable lengths than the maximum length of 100 meters, exploiting this feature is growing in importance.

The most cost-effective 10-Gbit/sec Ethernet application. While reach, power 13 consumption and backward compatibility are important considerations when

10GBase-T equipment availability and the future of copper media

selecting media, most designers will assert that cost significantly influences the decision-making process. The truth is that 10GBase-T offers more benefits and flexibility than other 10-Gbit/sec applications at the most favorable price point. The figure on page 13 shows the equipment (server port and NIC), media and annual maintenance costs for one channel and its corresponding 10-Gbit/sec port connections, which are representative of the types and lengths of media commonly deployed in data centers.

The most economical choice for 10-Gbit/sec transmission is 10GBase-T network equipment in conjunction with Category 6A UTP, Category 6A F/UTP, or Category 7A S/FTP balanced copper twisted-pair cabling. The same conclusion is reached when this analysis is repeated for channels and their corresponding port connections that represent the types and lengths of media commonly deployed in horizontal LAN cabling. It is this cost advantage that will drive the rapid adoption of 10GBase-T in 2012.

Interest in speeds beyond 10 Gbits/sec over copper balanced twisted-pair cabling is growing. The most significant confirmation that Base-T Ethernet applications have a strong future is the growing interest in “next-generation” cabling. This media will be targeted to support the copper balanced twisted-pair application that comes after 10GBase-T. Because Ethernet applications in the LAN backbone and data center core have always preceded Ethernet specifications for the LAN horizontal and data center edge, it is a good bet that the next Ethernet over balanced twisted-pair speed will be 40 Gbits/sec to supplement IEEE 802.3ba-compliant 40-Gbit/sec Ethernet computer backplanes and optical-fiber network gear. At this time, the biggest driver demonstrating the great industry commitment to, interest in and investment in the future of copper-based Ethernet is the work being done by the ISO/IEC and TIA to develop next-generation cabling specifications to support such an application.

ISO/IEC recently initiated a project to develop a new standard tentatively titled “ISO/IEC 11801-99-x Guidance for balanced cabling in support of at least 40 GBit/s data transmission.” This proposed two-part standard will address capabilities of both existing ISO/IEC 11801-compliant channels and channels with extended and/ or enhanced performance characteristics. TIA is currently working on a project 14 called “Specifications for 100Ω Next Generation Cabling,” expected to be published

10GBase-T equipment availability and the future of copper media

as Addendum 1 to ANSI/TIA-568-C.2. These massive project initiatives reaffirm the strength and popularity of Base-T applications and balanced copper twisted- pair cabling media.

While 10-Gbit/sec Ethernet-ready copper balanced twisted-pair cabling has been available for some time, it has been a long and anxious wait for 10GBase-T equipment to reach the broad market. That wait is over. 10GBase-T network equipment offers greater reach and flexibility than any other 10-Gbit/sec copper solution and is a very attractive alternative to 10-Gbit/sec optical fiber solutions when deployed channel lengths are less than 100 meters. Data center and LAN IT managers who had the foresight to install 10-Gbit/sec Ethernet-ready copper balanced twisted-pair cabling in their networks are poised to capitalize on the negotiation and power-reduction features of 10GBase-T and begin incremental server and switch upgrades to relieve network congestion and increase capacity this year. The rest have a little catching up to do.

Not a Cabling Installation & Maintenance magazine subscriber? Click here to request a free subscription.

subscriber? Click here to request a free subscription. rOn cATES is vice president of marketing, network

rOn cATES is vice president of marketing, network products, at PLX Technology, a producer of 10GBase-T transceivers. VALErIE MAGuIrE is global sales engineer at Siemon.


Smarter, greener infrastructure designs for data centers

Efficient cooling, improved space utilization, high-density connectivity, and network convergence can reduce costs and waste.

by DEnIS BLOuIn, Belden

W ith enerGy Costs rising, building owners and managers are searching for ways to improve energy efficiency, reduce costs

and improve their carbon footprint. One area of the enterprise key to that

effort is the data center—the IT system’s central nervous center.

Studies have shown that data centers currently use as much as one to two percent of the total power consumption in the United States, and that figure is likely to increase. When seeking greener, more sustainable solutions, the data center is a good place to start.

Multiple approaches are available for functional areas of the data center that can help 17 to enhance energy efficiency,

Belden’s AEHC Airflow Management System mounts atop an enclosure, monitors heat loads, and regulates fan-speed accordingly.

Smarter, greener infrastructure designs for data centers

improve power management and facilitate space savings. Among these are the use of Energy Star servers and high-efficiency power distribution units (PDUs). Too often overlooked, however, are the physical-layer components within the data center’s networking infrastructure and, arguably, these are equally important.

Essentially, there are three efficiencies to strive for in greening the data center:

cooling, power management and density. This article explains why building owners and data center managers need to select the information and communication network’s physical layer components with optimal performance, efficiency and sustainability in mind.

Cooling and power-management challenges

Respondents to a recent survey from Gartner revealed that they believe power and cooling to be the top data center challenges. Today’s active equipment not only consumes more operating power, but also must be kept cool. In fact, it has been estimated that cooling accounts for up to 30 percent of a data center’s energy load.

However, the cooling process itself is typically accompanied by excessive energy waste as computer room air conditioner (CRAC) units attempt to compensate for hot spots. Unfortunately, the result of this compensation means that an enormous amount of energy—and money—is wasted.

Most data centers use a hot-aisle/cold-aisle configuration to help contain hot air generated by the equipment. However, to take full advantage of this configuration, you need to find solutions that work with equipment enclosures to help separate the hot air coming out of the back of the equipment from the cold air entering the front. Such heat-containment solutions significantly reduce the mixing of hot and cold air, which increases the differential between the inlet and outlet temperatures of a CRAC unit for better efficiency and energy savings.

For example, there are heat-containment devices that mount atop enclosures and automatically monitor heat loads, and regulate fan speeds accordingly to pull the right amount of air from the enclosure for return to the CRAC unit via plenum spaces. This type of system has been shown to deliver up to 50 percent 18 energy savings when compared to hot-aisle/cold-aisle configurations. And they

Smarter, greener infrastructure designs for data centers

Smarter, greener infrastructure designs for data centers This figure provided by Belden estimates the airflow-capacity

This figure provided by Belden estimates the airflow-capacity savings that can be achieved using its AEHC Airflow Management System.

enable 100 percent utilization of the existing cooling infrastructure by efficiently managing airflow.

Reducing overall data center power consumption through better power management is also highly recommended. Replacing older equipment with today’s energy-efficient servers will pay dividends over time. In addition, PDUs having remote-monitoring capabilities can enable activation and deactivation of individual outlets or groups of outlets to save costs, and allow managers to view information about temperatures, humidity, airflow and smoke in the data center environment.

Finally, in arranging a control room’s cabinets, racks and equipment, it’s important to allow sufficient airflow to maintain optimal cooling. Careful installation, as well as maintaining neat and orderly cable rows and keeping cables away from the equipment, can be facilitated by implementing an effective, well-designed cable-management system.

saving space and reducing density

Obviously, the more square footage you have, the more materials required and the higher the energy requirements, so conserving space in the data center wherever practical is desirable. Areas such as the main and horizontal distribution rooms/areas house power-consuming core switches, as well as 19 hundreds of interconnects and crossconnects for connecting to equipment and

Smarter, greener infrastructure designs for data centers

Smarter, greener infrastructure designs for data centers Going hand-in-hand with airflow-capacity savings, Belden says,

Going hand-in-hand with airflow-capacity savings, Belden says, are annual cooling- cost savings when using its airflow management system. Of course actual savings will vary depending on the data center’s specific characteristics.

storage area networks. Today’s marketplace offers an array of products and solutions designed to provide high performance and reliability while conserving space. There are several approaches that can be adopted in various parts of the data center.

To house equipment, efficient high-density racking systems make maximum use of available space while meeting density requirements. Some racks and cabinets feature a modular design with interchangeable components that gives users flexibility to custom-configure the equipment storage spaces to fit their specific needs and preferences.

In the main entry and telecommunications rooms, wall-mounted, high-density optical fiber and copper patching products take up less space, and can provide convenient maintenance through the use of clear, readable labels and swing-out access doors. For example, ultra high-density patch panels can accommodate 48 ports in just 1U of rack space, which is twice the density of traditional panels. Angled patch panels provide left or right patch-cord routing, eliminating the need for horizontal cable managers and providing up to 27 percent space savings in the rack.

Another solution designed for use in data center pathways is preterminated 20 optical-fiber and copper cabling and connection systems. These conveniently

Smarter, greener infrastructure designs for data centers

bundled, factory-terminated cable assemblies provide

a smaller diameter for

pathway-space conservation,

and are also faster and easier to install and maintain, thus saving on labor expense. Furthermore, preterminated solutions allow for use of short links, which for some data centers can result in

a material reduction of up

to 40 percent in the overall cabling topology. And preterminated cabling is a cost-saver over the long term in that cables can be reused and quickly repurposed to accommodate moves, adds and changes required in the future.

More green than meets the eye

Our cover story in May 2011 provided information on the Environmental Protection Agency’s relatively new Energy Star for Data Center Facilities program (see “Few data centers earn Energy Star label”). As the story’s title indicates, only a handful of data center facilities are listed as having earned the Energy Star label. In researching the facilities that have earned it, we found statements from Citi indicating that one of the bank’s facilities in the Midwest United States had earned the label. Yet the list of labeled facilities available on the EPA’s Web site does not include Citi. Why, we wondered? A spokesperson for Citi explained to us that the list on the EPA’s site includes each facility’s physical address. For reasons of security, Citi has chosen not to be included on that list. Additionally, since that article went to press, more data centers have earned the Energy Star label and are listed by the EPA, including an AFLAC facility in Columbus, GA and a Corp 7 facility in Johnston, IA. -Ed.

sustainable infrastructure design

The network infrastructure is the core asset that connects enterprise users to the applications they need to

communicate, perform their work and conduct transactions. In designing and installing the infrastructure, signal-transmission performance and reliability are extremely critical—and so is long-term sustainability.

High-performing cabling and connectivity components are essential for data center managers to effectively take advantage of IT efficiency practices and 21 newer technologies such as server consolidation and virtualization that require

Smarter, greener infrastructure designs for data centers

more bandwidth. Going green and becoming more sustainable goes far beyond selecting and using environmentally friendly materials and components. It’s about working smarter and more efficiently across all enterprise systems and operations, which brings us to the concept of Internet Protocol (IP) convergence.

In recent years, Ethernet and IP have advanced to where the technology can now be used to transmit voice, video, security, and industrial control and building- management information as data signals across the enterprise, using a shared, common network protocol.

In some enterprises, Ethernet IP convergence is being adopted to replace a number of legacy proprietary systems. The beauty of the converged-systems approach is that it allows multiple systems to run as an open network, using the same infrastructure and cabling media, with security and authentication measures built in to protect and secure confidential data. IP convergence is a trend that likely will grow over time because it serves to increase efficiency, reduce costs and waste, and maximize resource utilization. And, in the end, isn’t that what sustainability is all about?

Not a Cabling Installation & Maintenance magazine subscriber? Click here to request a free subscription.

subscriber? Click here to request a free subscription. DEnIS BLOuIn is program manager for data centers

DEnIS BLOuIn is program manager for data centers with Belden. He is a mechanical engineer with more than 20 years’ experience in networking-system process, design and applications.


Prospects for all-optical cabling in data centers and enterprises

An examination of advantages, disadvantages and applications associated with the possibility of bringing fiber all the way to the user.

by AnDrEY B. SEMEnOV, IT-SCS for IT Co. and IGOr G. SMIrnOV, Signamax Inc.

i t is no secret that operating efficiency of a contemporary organization in

any branch enhances significantly if it has an information technology (IT)

system. Such technical objects are implemented according to the known

open system model, while their physical level may be built under different

principles. To this end, with due regard of the entire set of features crucial for practical application, in an overwhelming majority of cases cable-based communication channels are used. At this stage of technological development their linear part formation is assisted by the so-called structured cabling system facilities.

Structured cabling is a complex technical object, created at the building stage with significant financial, material and human resources. The natural aspiration of cost minimization leads to an immediate necessity to consider a great number

of various factors at the same time, as early as the basic designing stage. This peculiarity








Plastic-clad silica





optical fiber

optical fiber

optical fiber



Data center




Building automation






brings about a number of tasks. One of them— actually having a problem status, among other 23 things, due to

Prospects for all-optical cabling in data centers and enterprises

a large number of possible solutions—is transmission media type selection in a

horizontal subsystem. Transition of a seemingly engineering task in a brand new status is conditional upon the fact that building a structured cabling horizontal subsystem requires an overwhelming share (about 85 percent) of all resources required for the entire IT cabling implementation. Besides, horizontal subsystem cable represents the key cabling system component in terms of required financial expenditures, which is the most resource-intensive at the installation stage.

One of the causes for the problem is that currently structured cabling technologies are widely used in various fields, drastically different from each other, owing to their high consumer qualities. Thus, there are several types of structured cabling, which can be initially adapted to the field of application to consider all peculiarities thereof. The cable types permitted for use in various types of structured cabling are given in the table on page 23. However, the regulatory documents merely fix permitted cable types, irrespective of their application. Except for the maximum allowed channel length, perhaps, there are no unambiguous recommendations in the common official publications, even for preferred fields of their application, which are so desirable for designers and engineers.

Cable-type selection task

For obvious reasons, a system that has only one cable type is the easiest and most convenient to design, implement and operate, because in this case there is no way for the cable-type selection task to arise. However, to get this advantage, one must resolve an equally important task of a substantiated definition of this single type among a rather vast majority of its possible competitors.

It goes without saying that, providing variable conditions of actual projects one

can observe in practice, there is no perfect cable type for every occasion. The evidence of this simple statement emanates from the fact that there are several competing standard types of products in the market. In this regard the cable- type selection problem is getting noticeably complicated and actually comes down to answers to the two largely complementary questions: 1) Does a certain structure have any advantages under the given specific conditions? and 2) Do its disadvantages under the given conditions have any significance?

Prospects for all-optical cabling in data centers and enterprises

Additionally, selection results are largely influenced by the boundary condition, which is rather far from engineering, but nonetheless important. That condition can be summarized as: What is the importance of the field in which this specific solution is the best under the general criterion of technical and economic efficiency, for end-user transfer and distribution services? In other words, should we differentiate it as a separate independent direction, or is it better to use well accessible insights from adjacent areas that are, in addition, of no difficulty for a wide range of experts familiar with such insights owing to their occupation?

examining optical fiber

Optical fiber is the first candidate for the perfect product for an IT cabling development. It is hardly viable to repeat in this article the impressive transmission-distance and transmission-rate figures for optical fiber that are well known. Using standard optical hardware components, circuits can be implemented directly to the subscriber in access networks, and directly to the user in office environments.

When considering optical cabling as a transmission medium, it has many advantages. However, for the purpose of selecting the preferred type of cabling components, optical fiber does also have some noticeable disadvantages that often result directly from its advantages.

It should be pointed out that optical-fiber equipment is inhomogeneous. Multimode solutions are preferable for short distances, including structured cabling backbone subsystems and horizontal subsystems. They can support the same transmission speeds as their singlemode counterparts, but provide cost advantages when short link lengths are implemented. It is viable to use singlemode equipment on extended interbuilding backbone links, owing to lower dispersion distortions. Singlemode and multimode cables must be considered separately, owing to the fact that during the composite channels’ development, they may not be connected directly without intermediate active equipment, such as a media converter or more-sophisticated piece of equipment.

Specific computations show that the viability border for transition from multimode to singlemode technology lies within the range of approximately 600 25 meters (2,000 feet) to 1,200 meters (4,000 feet); while with the transmission rate

Prospects for all-optical cabling in data centers and enterprises

increases, the critical length shows a reducing trend. The latter results from both the higher values of higher-data-rate electronics and noticeably growing adoption of Om3 and Om4 multimode optical fibers.

data center’s impact

Other factors may have a significant impact on component-type selection, and it is worth taking account of these factors. As an example, data center environments have grown rapidly in recent years, and top the list of factors that determine technology directions and may significantly impact component selection.

The following objective factors have a significant impact on the application scope of optical technologies in data centers.

A) A data center as a technical object does not provide services to end users, i.e.

it lacks well-known man-machine system restrictions, primarily conditioning the ultimate data transmission lines.

B) Provision of operational support for the enterprise telephone network is not

the top-priority objective in a data center, and thus, there is little or no demand for PoE technology. In this case the task of supply voltage delivery to the active networking equipment is resolved by completely different means.

C) Optical-fiber cables have much better weight-dimensional parameters when

compared to balanced twisted-pair cables, facilitating the creation of a cooling system of active networking equipment.

D) When operated on long links, optical-fiber interfaces provide for much lower

power consumption, i.e. building of “green” or energy-efficient data centers becomes easier.




Excellent mass-dimensions parameters

Relatively low mechanical robustness and contamination tolerance

Transmitter-receiver galvanic isolation

Lack of remote power supply for telephone sets

Highest information-transmission effectiveness

Significant decrease in transmission performance advantages in short links

Excellent electromagnetic interference immunity and electromagnetic compatibility

Susceptibility to penetrating radiation causing increased insertion loss due to fiber material degradation (point defects)

Prospects for all-optical cabling in data centers and enterprises

Further analysis, however, causes us also to take into consideration the several additional factors. First, based on statistical data it should be concluded that owing to the focal application of a data center and its purpose, an expected market size of this type of structured cabling shall not exceed one-third of the office structured cabling market.

Second, in an earlier-published article (see “Considerations to make before

investing in Category 6A cabling”) we provided statistical data on some completed projects, showing that the average horizontal subsystem link length in a data center does not exceed 30 meters (100 feet), which is explained by the small size of this object owing to the natural intention to save an expensive area with complex engineering “stuffing” (uninterruptible power supply systems, precision air-conditioning/cooling systems, and others). The network interface based on balanced twisted-pair cable functions in a “short-reach” mode at such distances. It means that the length of most links is such that the optical technologies have no significant power-consumption advantages.

Third, 40-Gbit/sec transmission data rate is highly demanded in the data center, with the focal application area of server-to-server links. Currently such transmission data rates may be confidently implemented on modern twisted-pair equipment, which still is less expensive than the optical equipment. Actually, until recently the lack of official standards was the basic restraining factor for its practical application.

Thus, despite a larger possible application niche for optical solutions in a data center, the classical office structured cabling shall remain unsurpassed either now or in the foreseeable future in terms of the application scope.

access networks

Access networks must be considered within the scope of this discussion, because they seemingly link up with the enterprise IT system owing to the current predominance of Ethernet technology.

Access networks may be built on various principles. For example, it may be implemented in the existing infrastructure. In terms of the scope and depth 27 of coverage of existing housing stock, balanced twisted-pair cables and xDSL

Prospects for all-optical cabling in data centers and enterprises

technology are beyond competition. Solutions based on overlaying of hybrid optical-fiber/coaxial CATV networks with such networks have certain prospects.

The newly built access networks are mostly based on optical-fiber equipment. The average link length in this part of a communication network may be assessed at

a first approximation as 1 km (0.6 miles) size of order. In this situation advantages of singlemode technologies are fully expressed (in the form of Passive Optical Network or common Ethernet). In both cases a link is implemented through

a single-fiber pattern. It provides for enhancement of the project’s economic

features as a whole. At any rate, this very feature makes it difficult to link up an access network with an enterprise IT system, which traditionally uses classical dual-fiber links.

The number of access network users may be much higher than the number of IT system users, if only on the grounds that individual access to the services of the latter is required preeminently for the corporate or government executives. The workers to officers’ ratio among the economically active population (including industrial and non-productive sectors) may be taken as 4:1. To assess the number of links in completed access networks at a first approximation, one may take as a premise that they approximately correspond to the number of households. Therefore, even disregarding the fact that in the context of overall engagement one household has two possible users of the IT system resources, we shall get that the number of access network links may be manifold higher than the number of structured cabling links, yet this difference can hardly reach the degree of order.

To assess the impact of an access-network technology on structured cabling, one should bear in mind that the basic volume of traffic generated and received by the IT system users is kept within this system. These are internal phone calls, local server addresses, e-document flow and some other services. Consequently, as a result of efforts for structural optimization, it is viable to connect the whole IT system to an access network instead of an individual user, similar to use of PBX in telephony subsystems.

The aforesaid assumptions lead us to the conclusion that peculiarities of access 28 networking, irrespective of the scope of their coverage, do not and cannot have

Prospects for all-optical cabling in data centers and enterprises

any material impact on engineering solutions used in the general-purpose structured cabling.

From all this information, we reach four general conclusions about the prospects for all-optical structured cabling systems, which are described below.

1) In any foreseeable future, all-optical networks shall neither prevail nor have material impact in office structured cabling. They will be used only in case of special requirements for resistance to external electromagnetic interference and protection against an unauthorized access to confidential information, i.e. those niche situations in which optical-fiber communication technology has no competitors whatsoever.

2) The scope of application of optical-fiber communication instrumentalities in the structured cabling projects shall grow. The data centers are objectively the driving force of this trend, where the parameter value may be even higher than 50 percent. The said growth will be evolutionary, and the data center shall not exceed percentage units by its annualized tempos even in the unsaturated market conditions.

3) Providing that the data center cabling market is relatively small compared to the similar office systems, the relative share of optical-fiber solutions in structured cabling technologies can hardly exceed 30 to 40 percent even at the extreme.

4) The impact of access networks on the scope of application of optical-fiber solutions in development of office structured cabling, which are the most important for the telecommunications industry, may be considered negligible.

Not a Cabling Installation & Maintenance magazine subscriber? Click here to request a free subscription.

subscriber? Click here to request a free subscription. Dr. AnDrEY B. SEMEnOV is director of business

Dr. AnDrEY B. SEMEnOV is director of business development of IT-SCS (IT Structured Cabling System) for IT Co. He also heads the structured cabling systems faculty at the Moscow Technical University of Communications and Informatics. IGOr G. SMIrnOV is product manager for Signamax Inc.


About DYMO Industrial DYMO® Industrial label printers and labels are tough, affordable and long- lasting.

About DYMO Industrial

DYMO® Industrial label printers and labels are tough, affordable and long- lasting. Engineered for real-world job site conditions, the unmatched versatility and performance of DYMO solutions are trusted by datacom, MRO and pro A/V professionals worldwide to help them get the job done right the first time, and with greater speed, accuracy and efficiency.

Featuring one-touch “Hot Keys,” DYMO Industrial label printers offer fast, easy formatting of commonly used label types for marking wires and cables, terminal blocks, patch panels and more. This exclusive built-in feature improves productivity while helping to eliminate guesswork, complicated menus and time consuming tape-swaps.

DYMO labels are available in a range of heat-, UV- and chemical-resistant materials, sizes and colors and are backed with industrial-strength adhesives, so they stay stuck and legible even in the toughest conditions.

No matter the size and scope of your job, DYMO Industrial products give your installation work a clean, professional look that enhances your reputation. And whether you’re creating wire and cable wraps, flags, barcodes, labels for vertical and fixed-length cables, or module labels, DYMO Industrial solutions let you work with the confidence that your installation meets industry standards, like OSHA and ANSI, as well as your own.

To learn more about our full assortment of label printers and labels, get step-by-step product trainings, download templates, find a certification workshop, and locate a DYMO Industrial retailer or distributor, visit