Today we ask the question: What should we be thinking about when re-cabling your data center? And this is a question that’s far too often overlooked, but first let’s examine the issues that you’re facing that drive the need to re-cable a data center.

First is enterprise storage. This has grown 30 percent every year for the past five years and the expectation is that it’s gonna be the same growth 30 percent year over year for the next five years. Next is global IP traffic, it’s expected to quadruple in the next four years. To put this in a better perspective, by the year 2014 it will take 72 million years to watch the amount of video traffic that will cross the global IP network.

There’s also technology trends such as virtualization. For this see tutorial video #18 for a much better explanation. And there are other drivers, you may have been burned by unreliable cabling and led to downtime. And as you know, this can cost business a lot of money, also antiquated setup and design. Many data centers were built in the ‘80s and the ‘90s; you may have inherited a mess and it’s your chance to re-cable for the next generation of data center. Could be a hardware refresh, you may know that your cabling will not be able to handle the hardware that you’re about to purchase.

For whatever reason, re-cabling your data center is a very critical point in your business’s technology migration plan. The key factors in a current and future data center cabling infrastructure are: design, performance, and manageability. Proper design is a must; the TIA-942 is a very helpful reference and I would recommend you read into that. You can also see our episode #3 where we go into that in more detail. Performance, in order for an infrastructure to last it’s going to have meet the demands of the next few generations of hardware. Currently looking forward to 100 gigabit Ethernet speeds, the use of the MPO style connector, and a loss budget of 1.9 dB is the benchmark. You wanna have as much headroom here as possible. Performance counts. Also under performance is repeatability. The cable assemblies have to last; if something breaks after its 20th plug-in you’ll run into downtime, nobody wants that. And let’s not forget manageability.

The product should be standards-based and not proprietary. Product design has come a long way especially with optical assemblies and interconnect points. So you should research with this in mind. Choose products that will stay manageable rather than just looking nice after the initial install but then they turn into a mess within months. And lastly respect layer one, train your team on best practices, and plan your changes with cabling in mind. Also for those moves and adds changes be ready for those they come up on the fly. So don’t try and use any Band-Aid® fixes; prepare for them so you’re ready.