By Andreas Sila, VP Market Management, Data Center, HUBER+SUHNER
The ever-growing need for data requires data centres to be scalable and adaptable in order to expand with the needs of the industry. The data centre environment is changing rapidly and there is extreme pressure for facilities to run seamlessly, as any downtime or human error can come at a huge cost. In Uptime Institute’s recent report, 42% of data centre owners and operators experienced an outage in the last three years due to human error. As data centres, and the number of fibres they contain, continue to grow, any incorrect movement or adjustment of the cables can have costly consequences. There are also wider issues that operators have to contend with, such as space, efficiency and profitability.
As the amount of data generated is expected to rise over the coming years, it is essential that data centre operators have the right solutions in place that allow them to keep up with connectivity demands, but are future-ready and can grow alongside the needs of the business. Cable management systems are often left as an afterthought when it comes to data centre management. With attention firmly on computing equipment, the solutions in place to manage cabling can be overlooked. However, to successfully address and overcome the challenges that operators are facing in terms of space, efficiency and profitability, cable management solutions should be at the forefront of their minds.
Challenges of the modern data centre
We are living in a digitally-driven society, where billions
of new devices and services are generating huge amounts of data that must be
hosted and transferred. However, the constant need for more capacity can lead
to a situation where there is insufficient available space. Computing equipment
is the priority for most operators, so space is a critical factor that must be
considered when it comes to implementing a cabling solution.
As more fibres are packed into data centres, it is no surprise that the risk of human error grows. It can be more challenging to correctly move, add or change cables, which in turn increases the risk of damage or downtime. To try to prevent this, it is essential that ongoing maintenance is made as simple and accessible as possible.
Looking at short-term solutions will only provide short-term benefits and will ultimately cost data centre operators more in the long-term. With the increasing amount of data generated and the evolving nature of the industry, operators will be forced to make costly upgrades and run the high-risk of downtime. To save time, resources and costs, operators should look at implementing a properly designed system that will serve modern technologies and be capable of supporting future applications and adaptations.
A solution that takes up as little space as possible is vital, but maximising space must not compromise performance, cost, accessibility or reliability. Overcoming space issues requires a high-density solution that provides exceptional organisational support for cable systems, to ensure that fibres can be stored in a smaller space. This would leave more room for the active, revenue-generating equipment. There are varying levels of accessibility provided by cable management solutions on the market, including rear, side and front access. There are certain cable management solutions which are more suitable to certain data centres than others, such as splice, patch or transition options. Therefore, it is essential that operators look into the solutions available to make their data centres more efficient.
The benefits of structured cabling
Performance and growth are at the core of leveraging an efficient structured cabling approach. Having a neat and well-structured set up allows data centre operators to be as organised as possible and helps to enhance the overall performance. With the right cabling solution in place, it can be easier to scale and drive business growth. By laying an efficient, flexible, high-density physical foundation, data centres will benefit from fast deployment, both during construction and operation, which is key to delivering quick, reliable services and maximising uptime. Also, existing cabling infrastructure can be easily extended for future applications without the need for replacement or removal.
Structured cabling systems offer complete peace of mind due
to their ability to work effectively without needing much attention. However,
flexibility is vital for these fast-moving environments, and so changes need to
be made when necessary. Moves, adds and changes (MACs) are simple and effective
during installation and operation with the right structured cabling strategy in
place. This allows operators to spend valuable resources elsewhere in the
business, as the system can be installed quickly and effectively.
One solution does not fit all
Identifying the most suitable fibre management system is not a ‘one-size fits all’ approach. Each data centre environment is different and needs solutions that meet its unique requirements within its different areas. These include the Main Distribution Area, Zone, Horizontal or Intermediate Distribution Area, Equipment Distribution Area, External Network Interfaces and Building Entrance Facility, as well as all the cables and relevant connectivity.
Every need is different and when a standard approach is not sufficient, a customised solution should be considered. By selecting scalable solutions that offer upgrades when needed, operators only pay for what is needed at the time. Operating in a fast-paced environment is extremely challenging and costly, but by investing in long-term solutions, such as implementing a structured cable management system, data centres can grow with the industry and its needs.
Ensuring current and future demands are met
Operators must begin by developing a structured cabling
strategy. This should take into consideration the current business needs and
future demands too to ensure the end solution meets the relevant criteria.
Getting a strategy in place now, rather than focussing on short-term goals,
will have greater cost and time saving benefits in the long-term.
Adhering to national, or international standards, such as TIA-942-B, EN 50173-5, IEC24764 or IEC11801-5, is an essential step to consider in a structured cabling strategy. This is not only important for the safety of data centres, but it also helps to establish guidelines and recommends best practices to ensure uniformity and compatibility in and between networks. Experts with specialised knowledge are not easily accessible to everyone. Therefore, it is important to have a strong partner to help guide operators to the most suitable structured cabling solution for their data centre.
Operators need a fibre optic cabling strategy that structures and optimises their space, based on a set-up which is scalable to help data centres to be future-ready. Profit is what drives data centres, and with the added pressures to optimise uptime, an efficient set-up means that operators can redirect resources and enhance their current offering by opting for new services for their customers or catering to a greater customer base. By saving time, maximising resources, and widening their offering, operators will be prepared for future demands and in the best position to drive growth.
By working with a specialised expert, such as HUBER+SUHNER, data centre operators can have the confidence that they will receive the right support to implement a system that will not only meet the needs of their business now, but that will also grow with the ever-changing needs of the industry. The increased pressure placed on data centres to deal with increased data demands means that it is more critical than ever for operators to adopt the right system to manage digital demands.