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Hot and Cold Aisle Containment in Data Centers

Feature Hot and Cold Aisle Containment in Data Centers - AnD Cable Management Blog

Data centers are often made up of hot and cold aisles, and the design of the hot / cold aisle data center is far from new. However, the traditional setup causes warm air exhaust from one aisle to flow into the air intake of the next, meaning that the overall efficiency of the data center is impacted. And really, that’s what hot and cool aisle containment is all about.

Hot and Cold Aisle Containment in Data Centers - AnD Cable Management Blog
Balancing hot and cold aisles is more important than ever to running an efficient data center

As rack density increases, especially in edge data centers and hyperscale data centers, the need for efficiency increases. This is also impacted by the fact that there are more green data centers, who may be generating their own energy using solar or other renewable resources. 

How does containment work and how does it impact your data center?

Remote Monitoring and Temperature Control

Of course, before we get to containment itself, it’s a good reminder to revisit physical layer monitoring. To know how effective any containment effort is, it’s necessary to monitor temperatures. This is most often done with temperature indicating panels, three per rack at the top, middle, and bottom, so that intake temperatures can be monitored regularly.

Of course, someone entering the area to manually check temperatures is yet another disruption to airflow, so remote monitoring as a part of physical network security is essential. This allows managers not only to monitor these temperatures, but receive alerts and take action if something goes wrong. 

A150 Remote Physical Layer Network Security Monitoring Elements
The A150 Remote Physical Layer Remote Monitoring system tracks temperature among many other elements that reduce risk and increase efficiency in data centers

But the most important fact for this discussion is to know what temperatures are so that efficiency and the effectiveness of containment can be monitored.

What is Aisle Containment?

Aisle containment is essentially isolating aisles by relative temperature. Essentially it means placing doors at the end of each aisle, and then adding panels, or barriers, from the top of the cabinet upwards. 

The more airtight this containment is, the more efficient cooling can be, and the easier it is to manage airflow. It’s pretty simple, but there are a couple of different approaches, each with its own pros and cons.

Hot vs. Cold Aisle Containment

There are two ways to manage aisle containment: hot and cold aisle containment. And they work exactly the way they sound.

  • Hot Aisle Containment: Hot aisles are contained, leaving the rest of the room at a more comfortable cool aisle temperature. It’s also easier to manage in many cases.
  • Cold Aisle Containment: Cold aisles are isolated or contained, which means the rest of the room stays at the warmer hot aisle temperature. This can also make getting the right amount of airflow tricky due to pressure changes, but managed properly it can deliver the most uniform temperature air to servers.. 

Choosing the right type of aisle containment for your data center depends on your situation, but there are some differences between new data center construction and retrofitting an existing data center.

Retrofitting vs. New Data Center Construction

In the case of a new data center, most of the time hot aisle containment is the method of choice. This is easier to set up in a new data center, as that allows you to start with the type of containment you need, and to set up HVAC systems and sensors to accommodate that. 

This creates an easier environment for technicians to work in when necessary, and is overall a more efficient choice. However, things are different when it comes to existing data centers

Existing data centers are easier to retrofit with cool aisle containment. While there is some additional monitoring, the way cooling systems work simply means this process is simpler in a currently operating system without creating expensive downtime for making moves and changes and installing containment. 

That doesn’t mean that no new data center will be built with cool aisle containment. It simply means that hot aisle containment is a more frequent choice. 

Partial Containment Solutions

When it comes to retrofitting, sometimes full aisle containment in either format is not possible. In those cases, partial containment is a solution. How is this achieved?

Often plastic strips can be used, similar to those you would go through walking into an industrial freezer or even certain restaurant kitchens. These can be hung at the end of aisles and from the tops of servers to the ceiling, just like other containment methods.

While not as effective, partial containment can be easy to retrofit and implement, and in some cases is about 75% as effective as full containment. For existing data centers looking for a quick and inexpensive efficiency solution, partial containment is a viable option. 

But containment is just a part of rack cooling solutions, and there are some new and exciting ones. 


WHITEPAPER – Optimizing Server Cabinet Rack Space to Maximize Efficiency and Reduce Costs

Optimizing Server Cabinet Rack Space to Maximize Efficiency and Reduce Costs FREE Guide - AnD Cable Products

Smart optimization can help you increase rack space and realize significant equipment cost savings. Read our step-by-step guide that shows you how – and how much you could save.

  • How Much Rack Space You Could Save
  • How to Optimize for Maximum Efficiency
  • Savings for New and Retrofit Installations
  • Overall Cost and Space Savings Post-Optimization

The Addition of Liquid Cooling

Data center cooling has evolved from older, inefficient systems to more contemporary ones in a relatively short period of time. However, one thing that has been around for a while but is experiencing a boom in denser, modern data centers is liquid cooling. 

Why? Well, in most cases liquid cooling is more efficient than air cooling in data centers, and when the two are used in conjunction, generally the best results can be achieved. The larger data centers get, the more power they consume, the greater the push towards a blended approach to cooling that not only saves power and is better for the environment, but prolongs the life of equipment and saves space as well. 

But even with the addition of liquid cooling, it’s all about efficient use of rack space and the airflow around them. 

It’s All About Airflow

No matter what kind of aisle containment is used, and no matter how efficient the cooling system, saving space, improving efficiency, and keeping things organized, maximizing rack space efficiency and airflow is vital.

That’s why data centers choose ZeroU racks and cable management systems. They not only help avoid the spaghetti mess and all the cable issues that can arise from it, but also help maximize airflow and save significant rack space in any system.

Whether you are retrofitting a data center or engaged in new construction, we have the rack system that’s right for you. 

Contact AnD Cable Products today for all of your cable, rack, and physical network security needs. We’d love to start a conversation about the right solution for you. 

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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Server Rack Configuration and Cable Management Best Practices

Feature - Server Rack Configuration and Cable Management Best Practices - AnD Cable Management Blog

There are only three types of currency in the world: time, money, and expertise – and we can’t afford to waste any of them. You have the expertise needed to run a data center and you hire others with the same expertise. But there are two things you can always save in your data center: time and money.

Jump to Section:

Data center server rack configuration with proper cable management using best practices

It seems like we never have enough of either one, and time and money are often directly tied together. So how do you make the most of both every single day?

Perhaps the most important thing is to optimize wherever possible. Here are some ideas for you, things that will save you both time and money in your data center.

Use Your Rack Space Wisely

The more efficiently you use your rack space, the more you can fit in your data center. In a time when many data centers are experiencing a need for rapid growth, the ideal use of space is key. So what can you do?

  • Use the right sized racks for your equipment – Many components are moving to 23” cable management racks rather than 19” ones. Be sure you have the right server rack, so you are not wasting space and risking equipment damage.
  • Use smaller gauge cables where possible – This allows for more airflow and improved equipment efficiency while also taking up less valuable space.
  • Use Zero U cable rack organizers – These will not only save you useful shelf space, but they are also easier to install, and can make repairs and changes faster too by giving technicians and installers more space to work on.

All of these things will make sure you are using your rack space in the very best way.

Avoid a Disorganized Server Rack

While racks rarely start out that way, additions, changes, and moves can result in a real mess at the rear of your server rack. Every technician has seen this from time to time, and it is not only a waste of time to sort through, but it can cost a data center in many ways.

Cables that are hanging unsupported like a curtain and not routed properly will often break at critical points, losing continuity. Connectors also suffer more wear and tear, and airflow is adversely affected, which is harder on equipment.

If you have a disorganized server rack get it cleaned up and optimize that rack as soon as you can. Use Velcro cable wraps and ties to bundle cables, and take the next time saving step, which involves labeling and organization.

Develop a Label Protocol and Label Everything

The ANSI TIA 606-B is a voluntary cable labelling standard, but one that helps data centers be as organized as possible. It involves setting up a consistent and standardized system for labelling cables and equipment. It involves using:

  • Permanent labels
  • Labels at both ends of the cables
  • Legible labels
  • Good record keeping of labeling protocols and physical locations
  • Color coding
  • A common nomenclature everyone understands

Once you have established a labeling protocol, ensure that everything is labeled. You never want to have to say, or hear someone on your team say, “I wish I had labeled that” again. Make labeling a standard procedure.

At AnD Cable Products, we offer everything from reusable cable labels to a variety of different sized Velcro cable wraps and zip ties for your cable management needs. Need something you don’t see on our website? Feel free to reach out and Request a Quote.

Optimize Your Data Center for Airflow

Whether you run cables under the floor or overhead, you need to have a plan to maximize airflow in your data center. This is easier on your HVAC system and better for your equipment overall. Any large variations in air temperature, pressure, or humidity will all impact your data center in one way or another.

This means using the right size and length cables, rack cable management in the room, and having an overall airflow plan in place. This includes all of the steps above, but adding the extra layer of understanding how each action you take will affect airflow.

Remote Monitoring and Automation

Finally, remote monitoring and automation mean fewer technicians in and out of the facility, which is easier on the HVAC systems and airflow efficiency, reducing costs. It also means you can spot problems before they start. You’ll know what is going on with cables before damage is visible to the human eye.

Not only will there be warnings and alarms related to problems, a remote monitoring system can reduce energy usage in your data center as well. This physical layer network security is often overlooked and not given the attention it should, but the right solution can save you both time and money.

There are only three kinds of currency. Time, money, and expertise. If you are going to use all of them to the best of your ability, you’ll need to save time and money in your data center. Need help or have questions about how to optimize your data center? We have answers and everything you need to get started today.


Optimizing Server Cabinet Rack Space to Maximize Efficiency and Reduce Costs

Optimizing Rack Space and Air Flow in Server Racks and Cabinets

Smart optimization can help you increase rack space and realize significant equipment cost savings. Read our step-by-step guide that shows you how – and how much you could save.

  • How Much Rack Space You Could Save
  • How to Optimize for Maximum Efficiency
  • Savings for New and Retrofit Installations
  • Overall Cost and Space Savings Post-Optimization

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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The Spaghetti Mess – Rack Cable Management Essentials

The Spaghetti Mess – Rack Cable Management Essentials - AnD Cable Management Blog

We often talk about the importance of network cable management in data centers, and how important it is to efficiency, airflow, equipment longevity, and more. But what about on managing cables on the rack itself? 

Jump to Section:

Do your racks have a ‘Spaghetti Mess’ of cables?

In fact, we know (because you’ve told us) that nearly everyone has encountered the “spaghetti mess” at some point or another. This is a bad thing, not just because of how it looks, but because of the possible damage, lack of efficiency, and even increased maintenance costs.

But there are solutions, and if you understand the essentials of rack cable management, things can be pretty simple for you. You don’t ever have to look at the “spaghetti mess” in your data center again. 

Let’s start at the beginning: 

The Server Rack Itself

First of all, we all know there are different kinds of racks and different sizes. While improving technology means some things are getting smaller, server components are actually getting larger. That means that wider racks, on the order of 23” cable racks or wider are more common. You can’t use a 19” cable rack for a 23” component. The end result will not only be ugly but could be disastrous.

In addition, racks, specifically in California but in other locations as well, must be built to withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters. It’s a pretty major requirement, and even if you aren’t in California, there may be state or local ordinances that cover the kind of racks you can use in your data center. The rack is the foundation for a good rack cable management system.

Racks also come in different levels of quality. Always remember that cheap is probably cheap for a reason. You want racks to not only be the right size, but to be sturdy and reliable. Cheap racks that bend, fit together poorly, and that don’t work well with standard adapters and rack cable managers will end up costing you more in the long run. Make sure you have the right rack for the right job. 

Rack Cable Managers

Rack cable managers, sometimes called horizontal lacing bars, are a critical part of cable management. There are a number of varieties, both horizontal and vertical. They are often classified by the amount of space they take up on the rack. 

Horizontal Zero U Cable Management Server Rack – 23″

For example, our ZeroU rack cable management systems doesn’t take up any rack space, allowing you to be more efficient with the use of your space, reducing the overall footprint of your servers. This means using fewer racks and leaving more space for airflow. 

A good rack cable management system also gives installers and maintenance personnel space to work. They have room to get tools and their hands in where needed, meaning they can work faster and more efficiently. 

Bundling and Labeling

Bundling like cables together keeps your racks looking neat, avoiding the spaghetti mess look. But it does more than that. Running like cables together reduces electromagnetic interference, makes finding what you are looking for easier, and again reduces maintenance time. 

Bundling can be done with zip ties, and while sometimes that is appropriate, most often Velcro is a better solution. It’s reusable, can be loosened or tightened as needed when doing adds, moves, and changes. 

The other important essential? Labeling. When was the last time you thought, “I wish I (or someone else) had labeled that?” When troubleshooting and executing repairs, a simple label can reduce the time needed to sort through cables exponentially. Also, if you properly and accurately label cables, you are less likely to forget where they should be terminated. They are less likely to get tangled as you install them, allowing you to avoid the spaghetti mess.

Cable Length and Rack Cable Management

Another simple way to avoid the Spaghetti mess? Be sure your cables are cut to the right length and terminate them appropriately. Network cables that are too long are much more likely to tangle or get wrapped around one another. 

The key is simply following the old carpenter’s rule: measure twice, cut once. You don’t want cables to be too short either. This can result in sharp bends and even breakage, and those things can result in data slowdowns or worse, failures. 

Have a Rack Cable Management Plan

What is the most important element of efficient rack cable management and avoiding the spaghetti mess? Having a plan and having everything on hand that you need. Whether you are renovating and updating your data center, building a new one, or replacing old components, develop a plan.

  • How Many? – Determine the size and number of racks you will need and order them ahead of time. 
  • Plan Ahead – Develop a plan to manage cables and order the horizontal rack organizers you will need – and vertical racks!
  • Network Cable Requirements – Determine the amount of cable and the type you will need. Order them ahead of time, but also make sure you have the terminals you will need on hand. 
  • Velcro! Need we say it again? – Make sure you have more than enough Velcro cable ties on hand to bundle cables as needed. 
  • Colored Zip Ties – While not always the best solution (see Velcro) overall, zip ties still have their place in rack cable management. Have plenty on hand to aid with cable routing. 
  • Cable Labels – have plenty of custom labels on hand and use them. Make sure every installer is on the same page as far as the way things will be labelled. 

A plan will keep the spaghetti mess from developing in the first place, saving you hours later on. 

Find a Dependable Partner

Not to brag, but AnD Cable is one of the most dependable in the industry. You want a partner with unparalleled customer service who responds quickly to your needs and can even offer custom solutions when needed. 

We’ve been working with data centers for years, and we’d be happy to be your partner whether you are updating your data center, building a new one, or simply need a long term supplier for whatever the future holds.

Get in touch and let us know how we can help you. We’re here to answer your questions. Avoid the spaghetti mess, but if you have one already, let us help you get things cleaned up. 

WHITEPAPER – 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.

  • Types of Stranded and Solid Conductor Wiring
  • Comparison of Electrical Properties
  • Factors Impacting Attenuation / Insertion Loss
  • Choosing the Right Cable


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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How Cable Management and Airflow Management Impact Each Other in Data Centers

How Cable Management and Airflow Management Impact Each Other - Cable Management Blog

Here’s the simple truth of the matter. Cable management can impact airflow management , and airflow should definitely inform the method, type, and execution of cable management. To understand how the two impact each other and what the best overall solution will be for your data center, it is important for use to take a look at cable management and airflow from a high level perspective.

Jump to Section:

How Cable Management and Airflow Management Impact Each Other
Airflow is an Important Factor in Data Centers

The Goal of Airflow Management

So what is the goal of airflow management? The goals are twofold: preventing large variations in air temperature and air pressure. This means separating supply air mass and return air mass through design.

Just grouping cables together with a zip tie does nothing to facilitate this and can actually result in a serious disruption of airflow. What happens as a result? Lower fan efficiency, higher HVAC costs, potential changes in pressure, and even equipment damage or failure.

The current problem? Because more people are working from home or adopting the work from anywhere culture as a result of COVID, data centers are having to increase capacity, and they may not have additional floorspace to accommodate more server racks. Since conventional cable management can use up as much as 25% of rack space, this means that intelligently designed rack cable management is more important than ever.

Because of this it is important that cable management and airflow be looked at as an entire package. There are two areas of cable management in a data center: cable management in the room itself, essentially the cables that run between server racks, and rack cable management.

Cable Management in the Room

Of course, we must manage the cables that run between server racks, and they have to go somewhere. There are essentially two approaches, and both can create unique issues. They are running cables under the floor or running cables overhead.

Perhaps the most common is underfloor cabling where the underfloor space is also used for cool air transport. This is usually a very efficient method for separating supply and return air masses. However. When you put more holes in the floor, say to accommodate more server racks, the risk of “bypass air” or mixing the two airflows increases.

Why not just go with overhead cable management then? In some cases, this works exceptionally well, although there are budget and logistical obstacles. The height of the cable pathway is also often an issue.

Think of it this way. If your data center uses the underfloor space for air system management and not cable management, overhead pathways are fine. If they are placed too high though, the warm return air underneath can actually get too turbulent, resulting in a mix of the supply and return air. This created a temperature bypass.

But this bypass also can increase variations in pressure throughout the data center, causing the fans and other mechanisms to work harder. It’s a delicate balance.

Rack Cable Management

There are a lot of best practices and industry standards for airflow and cable management between servers, but often rack cable management falls into the “out of sight, out of mind” category. That’s a mistake, as cable management at this critical point can have a huge impact on airflow management.

While this seems like it should be common sense, the practice of good rack cable management seems to be hit or miss. As early as 2002, research done by Paul Artman, David Moss and Greg Bennett (Dell PowerEdge 1650: Rack Impacts on Cooling of High Density Servers) showed that poorly bundled cables, overloading cables on a horizontal lacing bar (particularly 1U configurations) could result in as much as a nine degree increase in component temperature.

This is a good argument for ZeroU rack cable managers and other more advanced techniques. Also, more data centers are moving to 23” or larger racks as opposed to the standard 19” racks, because equipment manufacturers are constantly increasing the computing power per U space. As a result there are more cables per rack. As cable bundles get larger, they also need more space between them to increase airflow.

For some components that possess a single fan intake side and hot-switchable components on the other, there is really only one path for cables to go. Careful cable management means not only ensuring that the fan intake is not blocked, but that there is an airflow egress as well. Often specialized chimney cabinets that allow air to enter both the front and the rear of the cabinet can be used for these applications.

The Effect of Poor Cable Management

Poor cable management, whether cables between server racks or rack cable management, will negatively impact airflow management. More than just the increased costs associated with HVAC systems, poor airflow can also lead to premature equipment and cable failures, overheating, and even increased downtime.

5 Ways Effective Cable Management Benefits Your Data Center - Cable Management Blog
A ‘Spaghetti Mess’ of cables blocks network rack airflow very effectively!

Since uptime is the most important metric to most data centers, cable management solutions need to be an integral part of any planned data center and prioritized expansion.

Devising a Comprehensive Solution

What’s the solution? The best path is to be proactive rather than reactive. Plan airflow management and cable management together as part of an overall data center plan. Be sure you and your staff have the right tools and materials. This not only includes the right racks and rack cable management tools like ZeroU rack managers and chimney racks where needed, but things like Velcro, wire tags, and even colored zip ties to keep things organized.

If you do have to do a sudden expansion due to increases in demands, bring in the whole team and listen to everyone’s ideas. Use industry best practices where possible, but understand that creative solutions and innovation may be necessary in extraordinary times.

Do you have questions about effective rack cable management, or do you need tools and supplies to get started? Contact us here at AnD Cable. We have the materials you need and the know how to help you select the best product for your situation.

WHITEPAPER – 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.

  • Types of Stranded and Solid Conductor Wiring
  • Comparison of Electrical Properties
  • Factors Impacting Attenuation / Insertion Loss
  • Choosing the Right Cable


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/

Looking for other Cable Management Blogs? Top 5 Cable Management Blogs

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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.

Jump to section:

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.

Bandwidth

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

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.

  • Types of Stranded and Solid Conductor Wiring
  • Comparison of Electrical Properties
  • Factors Impacting Attenuation / Insertion Loss
  • Choosing the Right Cable

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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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