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4 Cable Improvements That Increase Data Center Efficiency and Build Scalability

4 Cable Improvements That Increase Data Center Efficiency and Build Scalability

The data center of the future is needed now. Added to rising growth in a world lived increasingly online, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and 5G are driving greater demand for data speed and volume. How can you ensure your data center is operating at peak performance now – and has the capacity to sustain performance as demand grows? Building for scalability is the key. Fortunately, those elements that create data center efficiency now lay the groundwork for your ability to respond well in the future.

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4 Cable Improvements That Increase Data Center Efficiency and Build Scalability

Building Data Center Efficiency

When we talk about scalability in data centers, we are actually talking about two different things. The first is the physical layer, which includes new data servers, switches, storage devices and cable managers. By optimizing server rack space and ensuring effective network cable management, efficiency and uptime can be improved, reducing the footprint required for server hardware and lowering equipment costs.

The second, and more complex, is the infrastructure that supports increasing data rates and volumes. With AR, VR, 5G and the IoT demanding data rates and speeds never seen before, data centers need to respond strategically to remain competitive. Given the escalating growth rate, it’s safe to say that decisions made today will have a dramatic impact on capacity to deliver unprecedented volumes of data, both in and out. For peak data center efficiency, you need to be dense (physical), fast (the right cabling), and cost effective. This includes transitioning from 40G to 100G and eventually the emerging 400G ethernet capability. It not only means more fiber cable, but an increased number of connections. The following factors will affect data center efficiency and scalability directly.


The demand for speed and higher bandwidth has instigated a migration from OM3 and OM4 multimode cabling to the faster and more efficient OM5. OM5 has some serious advantages over OM3/4, including:

  • Color – OM5 is ‘lime green’ in color, while the OM3/4 is usually aqua colored
  • Compatibility – Jacket size remains at the industry recognized standard (2mm), so it can be retrofitted with OM3/4 without a major change in infrastructure
  • Scalability – OM5 has the capacity to support current data needs and the 400G needs of the future
  • More efficient – OM5 is more efficient at longer distances

It’s worth noting that OM5 is more expensive currently, as cables have to be custom made, whereas OM3/OM4 are production cables, pre-made by the thousands and in all stock lengths.

Because of this, perhaps the best feature of OM5 is its compatibility with OM3/4. There is no need to change the entire network at once, so changes can be made incrementally as the needs of the data center change.

The main thing to remember is that scalability demands the ability to increase bandwidth at need. Hence the time to plan for what’s next is now.

Insertion Loss

The simplified version of insertion loss is this: the more connectors you have, the greater potential there is for loss of speed. A lower insertion loss means a stronger signal. Data centers should understand their insertion loss margin.

This margin is the actual insertion loss experienced vs. the standard insertion loss, and it can be affected by a number of things. So how do you reduce insertion loss?

  • Rack optimization – The right rack and cabling solutions will reduce the distance data has to travel, decreasing loss
  • Air flow – Temperature controls, or factoring in realistic temperatures, help manage insertion loss expectations
  • Connectors fit for purpose – The right connection components will also reduce loss, and the expected loss of these components should be factored in when being calculated

Efficient data center that are set up to be denser and reduce the distance data has to travel, have lower potential for insertion loss. Note the word “potential.” Since many factors, from the quality of cabling and connections, to the efficiency of rack and cabling solutions can have an impact, its necessary to look at this factor from several angles.


Skew is the difference between the time it takes light to travel on different fibers. Too much skew can result in data loss or errors.

The standards for skew are tight in parallel optical cabling solutions, as low as .075 n-s (nanoseconds). The simple reason for this, is that skew can affect the longevity of optical cables and how scalable they are when it comes to higher data rates and volumes – two of the primary factors in scalability.

This is another factor that can get complicated at times, and is influenced by the length of cables, the type of cable used and more. The key is to know what to look for in parallel optical circuits: low skew components with tight tolerances over the distance you need to run them.

Physical Layer Optimization

We’ve mentioned that for peak data center efficiency, you need to be dense, fast and cost effective, enabling you to be scalable and respond rapidly to future data volume and speed needs. While cabling and connectors are important, the fourth factor is making the best use of your physical layer.

Fundamental to this is the optimization of server racks and cable management systems. This means optimizing your server configuration. One of the smartest ways to do so, is to replace your 1RU and 2RU horizontal managers with intelligently designed Zero U cable managers, which use no additional rack space. The patented system design by AnD Cable Products can take you from using four racks to three through smart rack optimization.

Multiply that by the number of server racks in your system, and you’re looking at real space savings. Add better cable management and more efficient cables, and you can reduce your physical footprint, and equipment costs, significantly.

Cable management systems need to help regulate air flow, ensure devices are easily accessible and allow for cable identification and tracking.

The choices you make now around how you optimize your rack and cable management, bandwidth, insertion loss and skew can set you apart and ensure your readiness to meet the needs of tomorrow.

How are you preparing to meet the future, today? Have questions about your current rack systems, cables, and even system security? AnD Cable Products can help – Contact us today.

Understanding Stranded and Solid Conductor Wiring in Modern Networks

Understanding Stranded and Solid Conductor Wiring in Modern Networks - AnD Cable Products Whitepaper

An overview of the differences between stranded and solid conductor wiring, the properties of each and the best cable type to use in a variety of typical settings.

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About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff – Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cable labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and rack space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
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1 thought on “4 Cable Improvements That Increase Data Center Efficiency and Build Scalability

  1. I’m thinking of opening a call center early next year, so I need data cabling installation done for our office soon before we can proceed with running operations. I’m glad that you suggested using OM5 multimode cabling since they provide faster and more efficient bandwidth that will match the demand for speed. I’ll be sure to remember this while I look for phone service to get in touch with soon for our data cabling installation.

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