Corning gets into high gear
The modern high performance data centre requires a cabling solution to match
For many enterprises today, an ordinary data centre will just not do. Enter the high performance data centre, the real proving ground for any cabling solution for any vendor with ambitions for a stake in the market.
These high density environments challenge cabling solutions at every level, observes Keith Sullivan, marketing director EMEA at Corning Optical Communications. “They require higher speeds, higher port densities, higher resilience, greater flexibility and more rigorous management,” Sullivan says. “Corning EDGE solutions are designed explicitly for such environments,” he adds.
EDGE solutions, Sullivan says, offer faster installation times and moves, adds, and changes (MACs), as well as 100 percent more density than competing pre-terminated systems.
High performance data centres are not only technically challenging; they almost always come with aggressive build, hand-over and upgrade targets too. “Our FastConnect program allows us to build and ship a made-to-order data centre solution within two weeks of receipt of a customer’s purchase order. And small, day-to-day, MACs can be accelerated with FastShip, which can ship small orders within 72 hours. Traditional lead-time concerns with pre-terminated cabling solutions have been eliminated with these programs,” explains Sullivan.
From a performance perspective, the migration is underway from 10G transfer speeds in data centres to 40G and 100G and now there are developments happening at 400G.
“Corning is leading the market here with the introduction of EDGE8 solutions,” says Sullivan. “Built on the foundation of EDGE solutions, EDGE8 solutions deliver the world’s first tip-to-tip in Base-8 solution that maximizes per rack unit density for better network scalability and improved link performance,” Sullivan adds.
The challenge for the cabling industry in the face of ever-increasing speeds and feeds is to try and make the evolution as pain-free as possible for the end user, says Sullivan. “It’s not that challenging to come up with a technical solution to transmitting data at 40G, 100G or even 400G in an unstructured, point-to-point way using long patch cords. The challenge is to make it manageable, scalable, affordable, and to create a smooth migration path,” he adds.
Sullivan says structured cabling almost always needs to predict the evolutionary process, and deliver products that can, with minimum disruption, be modified to support the next generations of data transmission technology.
Corning’s policy here is twofold, Sullivan explains, adding that international standards are there to be exceeded, not just complied with. For one, Corning’s ClearCurve OM-3 optical fibre already exceeds ITU651.1 international fibre specification for cabled attenuation and bend-induced loss, he says.
Secondly, the high density, plug-and-play nature of EDGE solutions makes it simple to re-organize and aggregate cabling in support of higher data rates, Sullivan says. “For 10G installations, the solution is installed with an MTP trunk backbone, usually with 24, 48 or 96 fibre trunks which are then broken out using low loss MTP-LC modules using Corning’s Universal Polarity method for seamless polarity management,” he adds. When upgrading to 40G, 100G or even 400G in the future, the MTP trunk backbone remains in place and the MTP-LC modules are simply replaced with MTP Adapter panels and the system is now ready for higher speeds. “This migration requires no planning of new cable routes, no new cabling, no pulling the floor up, just a simple two-minute exchange of a breakout module for an adapter panel,” Sullivan says.
Fibre technology has long been used to span campuses, and in building risers. Traditionally the backbone of active Ethernet technology relies on expensive network switches in multiple wiring closets to reach out to desktops using copper wiring, Sullivan observes.
The Corning LANscape Passive Optical LAN (POL) solutions remove most of the active components, replacing them with passive optical splitters. Fibre extends into the horizontal network, at least as far as the room and sometimes to the desktop, says Sullivan. “The result is a network that can be up to 50% cheaper to both build and operate, offers higher reliability, and a much lower physical, energy and carbon footprint than traditional copper-based LANs,” says Sullivan.
POL got its first taste of success in retail, hospitality and healthcare environments, where its costs and space savings are highly valued, and is now making inroads in office environments, says Sullivan.