Re-Cabling Your Data Center Part #2

Re-Cabling Your Data Center Part #2

In today's post we will discuss the upgrading of your data center infrastructure.

OK you made the decision, you are going to upgrade the optical infrastructure of your data center, and it is time to start planning.  There is a lot to cover, knowing that in most instances the ???D??? word will be involved ( DOWNTIME).  Staying focused on the proper goals is the best bet to stay on track.  So what should you be thinking about for this re-cabling job?  The answer to these questions can ensure you stay on track, so it is critical to think about the following points.

Design is the first important aspect.  Use the TIA-942 standard as a guideline.  I would highly recommend purchasing and researching this document.  It offers a roadmap for your infrastructure that will allow for growth and scalability.  A well designed infrastructure will allow hardware upgrades, even with currently unheard of connector types.  It will also make adds, moves and changes much easier.  The basic principle is to create a structured environment where patching can be done in the ???front??? of the equipment racks and/or cabinets, and then trunking cable is run from the equipment cabinets to an area referred to as the MDA or Main Distribution Area.  This is where all the patching can be done, without having to lift a floor tile or dig around in overhead conveyance!

Once you have the proper design that can last for generations of hardware, now you need to ensure the performance of the product you put in backs this up.  In other words, it will be pointless to do this re-cabling job if the products you install won???t support the next generation of hardware.  For an optical infrastructure the most important issue is insertion loss.  Insertion loss is the amount of light (measured in dB) that is lost from the transmitter.  Loss budgets shrink as data rates go up (insert chart).   Look for products that have low insertion loss.  Research what the standards are, who exceeds them and also how they are measured.  There are a lot of ???smoke screen??? tactics, such as using average insertion loss versus maximum insertion loss.  The average does not help you a bit, because you may get an assembly that is on the high side.  Ensure that the products maintain these insertion loss standards after multiple uses.  Demand documentation on these repeatability factors and insertion loss characteristics.

So you have a good design, and products that will last for the next few generations of hardware upgrades.  Now you need to make sure things will look nice and STAY looking nice.  Manageability; much of this is about planning ahead, and not allowing the ???band aid??? fix (the old 10 meter jumper patch for a 3ft distance).  It is easy to blame a tech for this, but did they really have what they needed?  Cables seem to become an afterthought.  Also examine the product sets themselves.  Will they work with your rack and cabinet infrastructure?  Do they align with other industry standards?  Are the product sets adding un-necessary cable bulk?

Lastly, respect layer one. Think about cabling when any changes are being planned for and also plan for changes on the fly.  Have a small inventory of jumpers; vary the lengths so you are prepared.  Are the product sets based on industry standard connections or are they proprietary?  You don???t want to end up in a position where you have only one source for a connector or interconnect point.  Also look at the warranty; does the warranty require a manufacturer specific ???end to end??? scenario, where if you use another manufacturer???s product your warranty is nullified?

If you keep these factors in mind, it should really help you to create a positive legacy.  You probably inherited a cabling mess, ensure that you left a cabling masterpiece!