Fibre, copper joined at the hip

Copper and fibre all have a role to play in the modern data centre

Tags: Norden Communication ( Arab Emirates
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Fibre, copper joined at the hip John: Fibre provides better security against hacking and theft due to inbuilt encoding.
By  David Ndichu Published  July 27, 2015

Tremendous advances on devices and technology are putting constant pressure on cable manufacturers to innovate to keep pace.

This new data centre requirement for increased bandwidth availability has led to interest in developing parallel fibre optical network links, notes Joseph K. John, general manager, Norden Communications Middle East.

That said, both the traditional, represented by copper and modern cabling, in the form of fibre, continue to play a complementary role within networks, with continued advancement in both.

Financial pressure on organisations to improve facilities and processes while creating efficiencies and reducing costs is pushing innovations in UTP cables (copper) and fibre, says John.

Advanced copper cables are being demanded and Cat 6a cables particularly have high acceptance levels in Cloud technology, convergent data centres, and IP video surveillance, IP telephones, among other applications, notes John.

“The growing need for faster data transmission and stable performance across a wider frequency range has given rise to Cat 6a and Cat 7. Both can support speeds of up to 10 Gigabits per second on copper,” adds John.

Both copper and fibre options bring their own share of benefits and challenges.

The major advantage of fibre cables is that they are not affected by electromagnetic interference like copper cables giving reliable data transfers, explains John. They also provide better security against hacking and theft due to inbuilt encoding. Fibre runs have lesser weight and volume of material used, hence fewer resources used in manufacturing and installation and are considered the more eco-friendly option in comparison to copper cabling.

The major disadvantages of fibre cables, according to John, is the higher expertise required in, and the cost of, installation, as well as the need for careful handling while installing and terminations. Fibre is also more susceptible to data loss in macro and micro bends and crucially, the cost of electronics and transceivers is significantly higher than copper.

“These disadvantages of fibre over copper are holding the replacement of copper cables entirely by fibre,” says John. “Copper’s ability to carry power for PoE application is a major plus and means copper will always hold its relevance over fibre and wireless,” John adds.

Another solution in demand is Power over Ethernet (PoE) with IP telephony, IP CCTV and IP based equipment creating strong demand for PoE solution. “PoE reduces the number of wires that need to be installed, lower the cost and provide flexibility. It enables the electrical current, required for the operation of ‘IP end points’, to be carried by the data cables rather than by a separate power cable,” John explains.

In the data centre, John notes, demand for higher server port speed is pushing solutions based on 10G, 40G and 100G especially in switch to switch applications. “Today’s enterprise data centres operate at 10GB/s using Fibre Channel and Ethernet protocols, soon expected to reach 100GB/s using MPO/MTP fibre solutions.  The cabling standards bodies will release new twisted pair BASE-T data rates that support both emerging enterprise and data centre applications,” John explains.

Norden provides a wide range of products now to meet various requirements for structured cabling.

Norden’s CAT 6A solutions provide 10 Gigabits per second support over UTP, PoE and Data centre applications, John explains. “Our Intelligent patch panel solution is used for easy management of network infrastructure through software interface,” he adds.

Fibre cabling solutions for FTTH, MTP pre-terminated cabling solutions for Data Centre, OM3 and OM4 connectivity from Norden provide end-to-end solutions for data centres and structured cabling. “We also provide cabinets and racks for data centres, server rooms, telecommunication distribution and closets, IP rated outdoor applications. Additionally, we provide intelligent PDU solutions for use in DCIM,” John says. 

Though wireless connectivity is growing in the office environment, cabling looks to remain as relevant as ever.  

The available bandwidth per wireless user in a typical office environment is fast increasing reducing the usage of copper cabling for desktop connections, notes John. However, cabling is still required for wireless access points, John says. In addition, concerns over security, quality of service, distance and reliability of connection are hurdles to universal wireless acceptance, John adds.

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