Nexans rises to the challenge
Ever increasing flow of data is placing a new set of demands on the network at the level of cabling infrastructure.
The ever increasing flow of traffic - from the cloud in particular - is putting pressure on conventional network architectures, particularly in terms of ensuring business continuity.
These developments affecting the data-centre environment place a new set of demands on the network at the level of cabling infrastructure, and are changing data centre design from the ground up.
Tarek Helmy, regional director Gulf and Middle East, South & East Africa of Nexans Cabling Solutions says the advent of cloud computing, Internet of Things and the trend to higher-speed Ethernet communications, including mobile apps, is making it more imperative than ever for data centre infrastructure managers to carefully consider their network architecture. “In today’s competitive business environment, there is a need to implement the most cost-effective, future-proof connectivity infrastructure quickly and efficiently,” Helmy adds.
Cabling clearly needs to support the increasing need for speed and bandwidth. “Looking at bandwidth needs in data centres, we have to split data centre connectivity into two segments: “switch-to-switch” vs. “server-to switch” links,” Helmy explains. Switch-to-switch connections is fibre rich, while in server-to-switch more copper solutions are used. Parallel optics enables Nexans to achieve up to 100GB today with multimode fibres (OM3 & OM4).
“Two-lane singlemode is also possible but will be much more expensive because of higher transceiver costs. Upcoming copper standard of 40Gb/s over copper (40GBASE-T) will also enable us to see more copper ports to support high speed server-to-switch connectivity,” Helmy adds.
In the space of data centres, the trend is undoubtedly towards more data and bandwidth.
The IDC Digital Universe Study (May 2010) estimated that the number of information containers (e.g. files, packets, images) that are actually managed, protected and stored in the digital universe will grow 67% from 2010 to 2020. “The primary role of data centre cabling is to facilitate and enable this unprecedented growth in data and bandwidth while at the same time maximising data centres’ up-time,” Helmy says.
Optimum set ups include a mixture of copper and fibre cabling. Copper cabling should support migration paths to connect servers running from 1G to eventually 40G whereas fibre cabling should connect network switches running from 10G to eventually 100G, Helmy observes. “Good quality cabling and careful design help to minimise disruptions,” he adds.
Nexans offers a broad range of cabling products vis-à-vis other cabling vendors, notes Helmy. These include the LANmark-6A and -7A and Cat8 ready copper solutions, LANmark-OF fibre solutions, complete Data Centre solutions in both copper and fibre, including ultra-high density patching and the LANsense Automated Infrastructure Management and the Nexans EMAC (environmental monitoring and access control) devices. The company also has pre-terminated customised copper assemblies in Cat6A, Cat7A, as well as fibre assemblies in OM3, OM4, & OS2. These solutions enable the rapid deployment of cabling in installations where the time on site must be minimised especially in Data Centre environments; and Slimflex bend-insensitive fibre patch cords, specifically designed for environments with increasing port density.
“Additionally, Nexans offers a complete range of LAN cabling products and value added services providing improved reliability and reduced cost of ownership for Network Managers. All offered passive solutions are supported by the Nexans 25-year warranty program that covers Products, Performance, Channel, and Labour,” Helmy explains.
A promising development in the cabling industry is the Fibre-to-the-Office (FttO) segment.
In 2014, Nexans launched LANactive, a Fibre-to-the-Office (FttO) solution which uses passive fibre cabling and components together with locally distributed active switches to provide Ethernet services via standard copper based RJ45 technology to the device. Helmy says the approach can provide significant cost savings and benefits in specific types of environment such as hospitals, universities and airports where, long transmission distances within the building are required; space and/or cost restrictions limit the use of floor distributors; cable containment has limited capacity; refurbishment is required with minimum disruption and; redundancy at user level is required.
“All components including the active switches, cabling and connectivity are designed and manufactured by Nexans. The FttO concept combines the advantages of fibre with the requirements for flexibility, cost-efficiency and interoperability of modern enterprise networks,” says Helmy.
Structured cabling technology has come from far.
In the late 1980s, there was telephony and data, on discrete cabling systems, brought together over structured cabling, Helmy observes. “In recent years, we’ve seen a repeat of this convergence with facilities-owned systems. These range from wireless access points to electric meters, access control devices, surveillance cameras to passive infrared detectors, patient monitors etc,” Helmy says.
And when you add emerging ‘very high throughput’ wireless and the Internet of Things (IoT) to this mix and suddenly some additional requirements and design challenges appear, Helmy says. “Cabling designers and specifiers are faced with the challenge ensuring that cabling installed for these distributed services will fulfil their designated function for more than a few years,” he adds.