NME Great Cable Debate hashes out tough topics

Debut debate saw expert panel debate differences in opinion on structured cabling

Tags: CommScope IncorporationNexansReichle & De-Massari Middle East FZE (R&M)Siemon
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NME Great Cable Debate hashes out tough topics The Network Middle East Great Cable Debate was a great success, featuring five top structured cabling experts and a full house of end users.
By  Georgina Enzer Published  June 5, 2013

The debut edition of the Network Middle East Great Cable Debate saw five of the world's top cabling experts from Nexans, CommScope, Siemon and R&M debate three tough topics that are making waves in the structured cabling arena, with the help of neutral comentator Alan Flatman and neutral moderator Edward Whelan from IT consultant CitiHub.

The first topic, ‘Is Alien Crosstalk testing needed for category 6A cabling', showed a marked disparity between opinions of the panelists, with some saying that category 6A cabling does not need testing because the crosstalk threshold is ‘met by design'.

"There are only three ways you can suppress alien cross talk. First is you put shielding, that will suppress alien cross talk, the second way is to physically impose some installation restrictions such as you ensure space between cable or connectors, so you physically separate the two channels so they don't touch and you get some alien crosstalk suppression that way. The third way is you use innovative unshielded twisted pair [UTP] design and advanced system tuning on cable, core and connectors that gives you the real suppression you need to support 10G Base-T," said Richard Mei, R&D director, transmission solutions, Enterprise Division, CommScope.

Other vendors stated that it was necessary to test the cables to prevent future problems if a company implements 10G-Base-T in a few years time.

"If the cable is screened or shielded I would say you would not have to do testing at all, it is over the top. If it is unscreened, do it carefully, do it statistically, but if things in the data centre change, you have to keep on top of that administratively and consider redoing it," said Alan Flatman, an independent consultant based in the UK and a cabling and LAN expert.

The second debate, ‘What cabling will be required to support 40G in data centres', saw the panelists reach a consensus, that really it is too early to tell what cabling would be best. However, they did disagree on whether category 7A cabling would work best or not. Nexans stated that it is currently the best solution available for 40 gig, but that the standards committees are looking at category 7A, as well as two new types of category 8 cabling, which are as yet undefined.

In the final debate ‘What will cabling in the data centre look like in the future', Valerie Siemon stated that the traditional leaf and spine systems lend themselves to top of rack type deployments where the switch is located at the top of the rack ad the servers are located below and this is an architecture that is being touted as beneficial by switch manufacturers.

"Top of rack deployments are being promoted by switch manufacturers because it favours compartmentalised and quick delivery of data centres so you can order and entirely configured rack. However there are some upsets to this. When you have a top of rack deployment you are generally not using all the switch ports available so you are paying for these ports but are not using them. You are paying to power them and cool them and are losing quite a bit of the administration. I think what we are going to see in the future is a blend of top of rack deployment which is the preferred the topography by switch makers vs end of rack deployment that features structured cabling and allows provisions for administration and helps optimise the RoI in the data centre, because you can purchase more closely the number of switches you need to connect to server ports and can manage you power and work carefully to measure your cooling," she said.

Over 100 end user participants attended the Network Middle East Great Cable Debate's debate's debut edition.

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