CAT6 vs CAT6A in the Data Center

CAT6 vs CAT6A in the Data Center

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the most expensive thing in a data center? The answer is probably network equipment, right?

It turns out that the real estate of the data center is highest cost, and I don’t mean the physical building. It’s the space within the data center - the cabinets and the conveyance (overhead and underfloor). So if the space within your data center is so expensive and crucial to your infrastructure, why would you want to waste so much of it by installing thick, cumbersome cabling like Category (CAT) 6A  if you really don’t need it?



When data center managers want to run 10Gig copper within their data center they automatically think CAT6A instead of considering the benefits of CAT6.

There is a misconception that you need to have CAT6A installed for your 10Gig signal. However, CAT6 will carry a 10G signal up to 55 meters (180ft) and is on average about 25% smaller in size.  It is also less expensive and more pliable, which equals less space used for cabling within your data center. Although these cables might not be the latest and greatest on the market, it’s more important to go with the fundamentals when it comes to your cables and layer one infrastructure. This will help you avoid costly network problems and might be the smartest investment in your network.

When you minimize the space your cabling infrastructure takes up, it allows for better airflow (cooling), consumes less power and decreases your costs of ownership. For shorter runs or in an internal cabinet patching environment there are even Mini CAT6 cables available which are 50% smaller than a standard CAT6 cable and can carry a 10Gig signal up to approximately 30 feet. Talk about space saving!





The mini CAT6 copper trunk (white), shown in comparison to standard size (blue).


So, before you spend the extra money and take up lots of extra space on CAT6A cable, be sure to talk to your cable manufacturer and explore all your options to find the best fit for your data center.

Learn more about how CAT6 copper network cabling can reduce 50% of the cabling bulk in data centers. Respect Layer One® and start reducing overcrowding, cooling costs and downtime!