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Optimizing Ethernet in Data Center Networks

Feature Ethernet Data Center Networks - AnD Cable Management Blog

Demand for faster data transfer, and more of it, has exploded exponentially over the last decade. Even before the pandemic, growth was already at exponential rates, but with the work from anywhere trend and more people gaming and streaming from home, demand rose even further. 

With it came an explosion in innovation, and a necessary one. Data Center Interconnects (DCI) Ethernet cable speeds increased from 100 Gb applications to 400 Gb and beyond. Server speeds have gone from 10 Gb to 25 Gb and beyond, with 100 Gb speeds on the horizon, and already in place in some data centers. 

The result is that data centers are now frequently operating like edge computing networks. Here is how it works. 

Ethernet Data Center Networks - AnD Cable Management Blog
Ethernet cable speeds have increased from 100 Gb applications to 400 Gb and beyond

Optimizing Ethernet in Data Centers

There are four factors in optimizing data center ethernet use: speed, power, reach, and latency. Speed is already being enhanced and optimized by the creation of better and more modern cable designs. But for the other areas, there is still work to be done. 

Power

When it comes to power, many data centers have gone green, with their own renewable energy sources. In most cases, they have access to all the power they need. The key is to use it in the most efficient way possible. With more power comes the issue of design, including hot and cold aisle design choices and more. 

Reach

Data center architecture must take a holistic approach, whether you are starting from scratch with a new data center or making moves and changes to update its current infrastructure. Everything from switches and routers to transceivers and overall physical design, reach must be weighed by efficiency vs. cost.

Latency

Finally, latency is related to the final user experience. When it comes to gaming or video conferencing, low latency is the expectation, while when conducting internet searches, it’s not as critical, but can still be an issue for users. As speed increases and fast becomes the norm, latency expectations change with it. 

These three areas are critical to how ethernet is used in data centers, but it is far from the only one. 

Definitive Guide to Understanding Ethernet Patch Cords in Modern Networks - AnD Cable Products Whitepaper
Ethernet cables differences, RJ45 Connectors and T586B vs T568A

Infrastructure Processing Units

How we manage this need for speed is changing on the hardware and software side of things as well. Infrastructure Processing Units (IPUs) run Software Defined Networking (SDN) programs away from the server core. This saves critical server bandwidth, but it comes with an additional load cost. 

As these advances develop, the demand for new and better ethernet cables arises. And as ethernet cables advance, IPUs hardware and software applications evolve as well. Both improve in sync with the other. It’s a developing relationship, but one data center manager’s must take advantage of. 

Edge Computing Centers 

One solution to speed is to move the data center closer to the end user. This has been a developing trend, but increasingly data centers are expanding to distributed models where the interconnections between resources drive both power and speed, creating a better overall experience for the end user, and reducing latency. 

This comes with challenges. As edge computing rapidly becomes the norm, that latency KPI gets lower and lower. Low latency is key, and specifically, DCI applications are critical to meeting new standards. Ethernet connections are a vital part of this change and growth.

The Need for Speed

What’s needed to make all of this work? The first is optical transceivers, which allow data centers to make reductions in the power they use, but enables them to increase bit rates at the same time. This allows for the increase of speed in the leaf-spine connections, a critical component in any data center, but especially those that are hyperscaling. 

This does not come without challenges, as not all ethernet cables are created equally, and interoperability can become an issue. 

To help with this, high-speed breakout cables are often used. These cables have one end that supports the aggregate rate and the other end is a series of disaggregated interfaces. With their speed comes performance challenges, especially over distances. However, there has been some rapid development in this area. 

The New Normal

As 400 Gb speeds become the norm and data centers are increasingly on the edge, there are many advantages. Distributed networks mean easier disaster recovery and backup planning and create the ability to use shared resources to meet shifting demands. 

However, this creates some challenges with testing and maintaining KPIs. Interoperability remains a key component of successful deployments. 

At AnD Cable Products, we understand these challenges. We offer everything your data center needs, from Zero U rack solutions to every type and style of cable you need. We can customize cables for your application, and offer a variety of other hardware solutions to meet your data center needs. When you are ready to upgrade your cables, make moves and changes, or even deploy a new data center or edge computing center, contact us. We’d love to be your partner in innovation

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.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online at https://andcable.com/shop/

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Is The Future of Data Centers Hyperscale and Colocation?

Feature - Is The Future of Data Centers Hyperscale and Colocation? AnD Cable Management Blog

Whenever we talk about data centers, we talk about the fact that many businesses, even large enterprises, have moved to a cloud version of a data center, allowing someone else to manage their servers, storage, and other network elements. But colocation, born in the cloud DVR era, has started to make a comeback and is in fact, its own type of business. What’s driving this trend, and is it the future of data centers?

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Future of Data Centers

What is Colocation?

Colocation is essentially where instead of installing servers in a certain area or a certain room in your business location, you rent space for your servers and equipment in an established data center owned by a third party. This space can consist of a small area, a room, or even a cage of sorts. Since the data center already has the power and cooling capacity needed to house servers, a business doesn’t need to invest in building and equipping a new space of their own.

Colocation started as a way for two companies, Comcast and Charter Communications worked with yet another company to set up a data center that could provide users of online “cloud DVR” services with the speed they needed to “re-stream” content they had recorded.

Today, colocation companies are really real estate brokers of sorts: they sell or rent space that meets a company’s specific needs. Space is located within a large (sometimes very large) data center where “tenants” share the cost for power, cooling, and maintenance.

But why the surge in popularity now and is the future of data centers?

The Cost of the Cloud

When data reaches a certain speed and volume needs, a cloud data center can sometimes be more expensive than a physical network. Businesses, as they grow, often discover this, and move at least part of their cloud computing back onto colocated servers where they own and maintain their own servers.

Another reason involves data sovereignty requirements: certain data cannot cross country or other boundaries, limiting the type and location of cloud data operations a company can use. The need for additional physical protection of data also feeds this trend.

Edge computing, the option of deploying IT assets in multiple, smaller, more geographically diverse locations, is changing the conversation around data centers. Digital assets are widely distributed between the cloud and colocation and the objectives of this type of distribution is constantly changing depending on company needs.

The Value of Space

One key here is space. Often a smaller business might only need a single rack of space: others might have greater needs. Ensuring that any rented space is used to the best advantage is key: the less space used, the lower the cost. After all, data center relocation companies are often simply real estate and property brokers, and many don’t understand exactly what their customers are trying to accomplish and what needs they might have.

But to “sell” their services effectively, they need to learn the language of computing rather than real estate. Square footage and “a killer window vies” must be replaced with terms like workload, performance, speed, and reliability. It’s important that they can share with customers how colocation in a large data center can meet their computing needs.

However, in another way, it’s important that the business understand things like an efficient use of rack space such as using Zero U cable routing systems, power allocation, proper cabling and labeling, and the physical protection the data center offers their network.

Some Benefits of Colocation

There are several benefits of colocation vs. building your own data center in your own business space.

  • Reliability – An established data center and shared computing with other businesses means your uptime is assured, and you have greater peace of mind when it comes to reliability.
  • Security and compliance – There are a variety of standards regarding physical and digital data security, and a colocated data center already meets those requirements. These concerns are more difficult to deal with when you have an on-site data center.
  • Cost of ownership – all the concerns related to data center security and reliability come with costs: those costs can quickly escalate. Colocation keeps those costs steady.
  • Scalability – Should you grow and need to scale your own data center, that could be quite costly. The potential space you have available in a colocated space makes scaling much simpler.
  • Interconnection – Being located with other businesses means you can do business together and share resources.
  • Hybrid cloud options – many colocation data centers also include cloud servers, meaning a hybrid cloud approach can be easier to adopt.

Of course, as with any data center solution, there can be some drawbacks. However, there are only a few, and most are related to cloud vs. colocation issues, including cost factors. These often come into play when a company is at a “tipping point” in growth, where they are on the verge of needing colocation, but cloud solutions are still working for them.

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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 cabel 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 space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online https://andcable.com/shop/

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Data Center Planning Post COVID – 4 Drivers of Change

Feature Data Center Planning Post COVID - 4 Drivers of Change - Cable Management Blog

COVID and the other events of 2020 have had a huge impact on data centers. Traffic has shifted to residential areas with the work from anywhere trend, and overloaded centers are in need of expansion. But that expansion has been slowed by the pandemic, and social distancing and other restrictions.

So what’s next for the post COVID world of 2021? How do data centers plan for the coming vaccine, the impact on their operations and expansion plans? Here are 4 drivers of change you should keep in mind when making your plans.

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Wooden Business Man Progresses Post COVID Into 2021- Cable Management Blog
The post COVID era presents some unique challenges for data centers

Work From Anywhere is Here to Stay

Both businesses and employees have learned that working from anywhere, specifically from home, does not mean a less productive workforce. On the contrary, many people are more productive from home, value not having to commute to an office every day and have adjusted to the new normal.

Companies have discovered thousands in savings from a smaller physical footprint, and those savings are enhanced by benefits to the environment as well. Companies like Twitter and other tech giants have promised employees the option to work from anywhere indefinitely.

While some people remain anxious to return to the office (and will do so as soon as they’ve been vaccinated) many more are more than happy to continue working remotely. Whatever the post COVID workplace looks like, it seems work as we know it has already changed forever.

Faster Internet, More Data and 5G

Regardless of where people work from, the need for faster internet, more data transmission, and the continuing expansion of 5G mean data centers will experience more demand and require more moves and changes than ever before. This is about more than just technology and changing devices. It is also about the physical arrangement of data centers – an area likely to pick up once the vaccine becomes available.

The physical layer of data centers will change post COVID, as devices grow into the Internet of Things (IoT), high performance cables come into common use, and the demand for greener operations is prioritized. Perhaps the most important factor is that data center managers stay in touch with emerging trends and remain nimble, able to adapt when needed.

Remote Monitoring

Monitoring equipment, maintenance, and up time will become even more important – despite the vaccine. Customers have come to expect reliability, and it is no longer optional. However, the additional demand on human technicians to perform moves and changes means that monitoring should be automated whenever possible.

Remote monitoring systems can help do just that, allowing personnel to focus on more pressing tasks. A sensor network can send messages when human attention is needed, and can also monitor physical spaces for unauthorized access, providing an additional layer of physical security.

These monitoring systems continue to advance, and many can even react intelligently to many issues, readjusting HVAC and humidity systems and shifting loads away from problematic devices as needed. Automation creates a number of labor saving opportunities and can even alert human managers to issues before failures can cause service interruptions and additional issues.

Artificial Intelligence Adoption

Even as hardware evolves, cables become more sophisticated, and the physical spaces in data centers changes, software also continues to improve. From simple tasks like monitoring remote sensors and sending alerts, artificial intelligence can do much more.

Think of AI as the brain of the data center. It can monitor hardware, shift server loads as needed and intelligently, learn efficiency and streamline operations, prevent downtime, and even alert human managers as needed when software changes will not solve problems.

Artificial Intelligence can also be used to project future needs, generate expansion plans and ideas, and even develop plans for the physical layer of the data center. From optimal server rack placement to cabling choices to ventilation and HVAC needs, modeling can tell you what will and won’t work ahead of time, and AI can be a big part of that.

Post COVID, artificial intelligence will impact nearly every business going forward, and the increase in the number of enhanced data centers using this technology continues to rise.

What Will Next Year Bring to Data Centers?

“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future,” said the Danish Politician Karl Kristain Steincke in 1948. Nothing much has changed since then. The future is still hard to predict. But there are some things we do know:

Like 2020, next year will be one where many changes will happen. What changes are you making in your data center? What things do you think will be trending into the new year?

Introducing the Ultimate Data Center Cable Labeling System

Cable Management Just Got More Economical, Efficient and Robust

Ultimate Cable Labeling System - Epson Labelworks PX Printers and AnD Cable Products UniTag Cabel Labels
Ultimate Cable Labeling System – Epson Labelworks PX Printers and AnD Cable Products UniTag Cabel Labels

AnD Cable Products and Epson Labelworks have teamed up to develop the Ultimate Data Center Cable Labeling System with a selection of bundled cable labeling products that, when used together will revolutionize your cable management, efficiency and costs.

UniTag® Reusable Cable Labels – A plastic snap-on cable labeling system that provides a quick and easy way to mark and identify cables

Epson Labelworks PX Printers – A portable label and wire marker solution with exclusive time and costsaving features for creating custom labels

Epson’s PX Label Tapes Fit Onto AnD Cable’s UniTag® Cable Labels PERFECTLY!


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 cabel 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 space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online https://andcable.com/shop/

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Artificial Intelligence in Data Centers: The New Reality

Artificial Intelligence in Data Centers - AnD Cable Management Blog

For years, artificial intelligence, or AI has been the topic of science fiction, from Skynet in the Terminator movies to more benevolent systems. But AI has now become a reality, and that reality has put artificial intelligence in data centers, and the trend is growing. Data centers employing this technology are often referred to as enhanced data centers.

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Artificial Intelligence in Data Centers - AnD Cable Management Blog
Use of artificial intelligence in data centers continues to grow

But this idea of an enhanced data center will likely become the norm, as customer expectations rise. Unprecedented demand means and centers rapidly reaching capacity mean a need for one of two solutions: increased capacity and increased efficiency. Artificial intelligence can help with both. Here’s how.

Artificial Intelligence and Data Center Emissions Control

Data centers use a lot of power, and that power often converts to carbon emissions. While technology advances and the use of solar can help, there are other solutions as well. It’s all about the efficient use of power, HVAC efficiency and flow rates, and more.

How does it work? Well, sensors, relatively small ones, can be placed throughout the data center to measure airflow rates, temperature, humidity, and power consumption in detail, down to individual racks and components. The artificial intelligence algorithm will learn from data it gathers, and can do one of two things with that data:

  • The AI can take control – cycling HVAC systems as they are needed, redirect fans and other smart devices, increasing or decreasing speed to enhance flow rates, and more. This technique is being deployed in both new and existing data centers when possible.
  • AI can report – What the AI can’t control, such as physical placement of racks, wiring, and more can be reported on and recommendations made to human operators who can make those changes.

For instance, let’s say that you have a human maintenance crew who performs certain tasks at the data center such as cleaning, moves, additions, and transfers. This involves those bodies impacting airflow, opening and closing doors adding to HVAC loads, and more. The AI can recommend the best time when there is the lowest demand on these systems, to perform these tasks.

This reduces energy loads and therefore carbon emissions, but it can do even more.

It’s All About That Balance

Server balance is a critical function of data centers and has been overseen by human managers up until now. But smart data centers are using AI and predictive algorithms to assist these managers, freeing up their time to perform other important tasks.

Much like the advantages gained with sensors and algorithms that learn HVAC needs, the predictive management software will learn as it goes, and distribute loads to servers that will handle them best. This analysis and learning not only saves time but helps decrease wear and tear on overloaded equipment and removes the human error factor that can lead to critical mistakes and downtime.

AI has also made human resources management simpler. Through automating some processes, it frees up data center personnel, and makes scheduling simpler, helping to prevent short- staffing. Then, through video conferencing and using similar technology, companies can get even more done remotely.

Keeping it Up, Locking it Down

The concern of downtime is a real one, and one that can keep data center managers up at night. Keeping up with and preventing downtime manually can seem like an impossible task. AI can help, anticipating downtime based on server loads, traffic, and other factors. Not only can it predict downtime, but AI offers other advantages as well.

Because of the other things it has “learned” AI can devise solutions, and advise human managers on workarounds and prevention, keeping downtime to an absolute minimum. While it’s not yet possible to eliminate downtime completely, stellar numbers can be achieved using AI.

But what about data center security? Threats from malware, hackers, and other digital threats are an ever present danger. AI can analyze traffic at a granular level, and often stop such threats before they get a chance at a foothold.

Like downtime, security breaches are inevitable as new threats arrive all the time. But AI can help minimize risk, isolate threats, and remove them to minimize any damage and data loss.

Designing the Physical Layer of Data Centers

There’s more to the picture than just security, uptime, and human resources. There’s also the matter of the design of data centers themselves. What is the ideal placement for servers and server racks? What is the most efficient method to achieve maximum airflow in the data center? What impact will moves and changes have on HVAC and other systems?

There will always be a physical layer to every data center, and security related to that physical layer is nearly as vital as digital security. An AI algorithm, in combination with AR software, can help you design your data center physical layer the right way from the start, and even guide you as you make those inevitable moves and changes.

The same sensors that feed the AI data about efficiency and power savings can also detect pressure changes, unauthorized data center access, and other data points that help you keep the physical layer of your data center functioning properly and secure at the same time.

More to Come

This is by far simply the tip of the iceberg when it comes to physical layer security, the use of AI in data center enhancement, efficiency, and more. Artificial intelligence is set to impact every single business in one way or another, and the data center is no exception.

Want to learn more about the security of the physical layer of your data center? Need materials to make your enhanced data center design a reality? Contact AnD Cable Products today. We’d love to start a conversation about your needs and can provide you with the right solutions for your data center today and into the next innovations in data center management.

Introducing the Ultimate Data Center Cable Labeling System

Cable Management Just Got More Economical, Efficient and Robust

AnD Cable Products and Epson Labelworks have teamed up to develop the Ultimate Data Center Cable Labeling System with a selection of bundled cable labeling products that, when used together will revolutionize your cable mangaement, efficiency and costs.

UniTag® Reusable Cable Labels – A plastic snap-on cable labeling system that provides a quick and easy way to mark and identify cables

Epson Labelworks PX Printers – A portable label and wire marker solution with exclusive time and costsaving features for creating custom labels

Epson’s PX Label Tapes Fit Onto AnD Cable’s UniTag® Cable Labels PERFECTLY!


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 cabel 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 space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online https://andcable.com/shop/