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Data Centers on a High. Here are the Trends. And the Consequences for Network Managers.

The data center sector and its suppliers are without doubt facing a further high. More than a dozen digital megatrends are causing this upwind. What do network managers need to know about the consequences?


It’s about more than just the quantity of data

It is essential to take a closer look at exactly what is happening in the growing data center market. Because it’s about more than just massive quantities of data.

  • There is a major increase in technical, economical and quality challenges. The era of digitalization, for example, has to be mastered. Data centers have to be able to react efficiently and in an agile manner to frequent changes and unexpected
  • Competition, climate protection, security, and other factors are forcing people to act. Operating enterprise and on-premise data centers is proving too complex and too expensive. They are losing ground against cloud and colo offers.
  • Server parks and networks have to be running at full speed 24/7. That necessitates total quality and the most reliable technology possible.
  • Data centers should be able to master data traffic with the migration to 100, 200 and soon 400 Gbit/s. What does that mean for infrastructure and cabling? For example higher density and even more cable in the racks.
  • Several or even hundreds of thousands of ports and patch cords in one data center – who is going to manage these large numbers? That is why network operation automation is on the agenda.
  • Customers expect their data and applications to be available in real-time at all times. That means that latencies have to be considerably reduced. The only answers are fiber optics and new kinds of network architecture.

Ever faster. 400 Gbit/s (400G) is now moving into the data center world. The graphic shows the forecast for sales of faster switches or switch ports. That includes breakout cabling with 8x50G and 4x100G. Graphic: R&M

Our report in the specialist magazine CONNECTIONS No. 57 looks at further details of the current market development. Learn all about the modern categories, such as hyperscale and edge data centers. Use the report to find points of orientation for the next stages in the boom.

Download the R&M magazine here.

Driving forces and upcoming changes in the international data center market. Graphic: R&M

Driving forces and upcoming changes in the international data center market. Graphic: R&M

Fiber optics today

One technical aspect should be given particular emphasis at this point: the subject of fiber optics.

The traditional hierarchical network topology with core, aggregation and access level can no longer cope with the amounts of data. The data congests on its traffic routes.

Optical fiber is the only solution for connectivity in competitive data centers – depending on the requirement and architecture as singlemode or multimode fiber.

Meshed leaf-spine architectures reduce the latency. A network mesh with crisscrossing cabling now guarantees that the switches at the access level are no longer more than a hop away from each other.

The network architecture of large data centers is changing. Leaf-spine is the name of the new concept of meshed infrastructure. It reduces latency. Graphic: R&M

The network architecture of large data centers is changing. Leaf-spine is the name of the new concept of meshed infrastructure. It reduces latency. Graphic: R&M

At the transport level, the number of fibers is on the increase. For 40 and 100 Gbit/s, data centers require eight fibers in parallel pairs. Higher speeds require 16 or 32 fiber pairs. Cabling density must, therefore, be increased.

Precision is more crucial than ever before with fiber optics. For example, the current Pulse Amplitude Modulation 4 (PAM4) requires the best possible noise suppression. Wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) requires extremely precise signal transmission and particularly suitable cable types.

Wavelength division multiplexing technology requires energy for lasers and cooling. Passive parallel optics, on the other hand, relies on the scalability and compression of the infrastructure. It utilizes the racks better, saves space, does not need energy. On the basis of parallel optics, data centers can quickly migrate to the next level. Effectively all that has to be done is plug them in and unplug them.

Network managers should take this into consideration when planning the future.

Jumbo Data Center in Norway

Vision: the jumbo data center in the north of Norway. Planned area: approx. 0.6 million square meters. It will be the fifth-largest data center in the world and will be operated entirely with renewable energy.
Graph: HDR Architects

This is what R&M does for you

R&M supports operators, managers and technicians in data centers as well as planners, project managers and installers with product development and decades of experience. Whether in planning and product selection, the provision of complete cabling solutions, the logistics or even in formal acceptance and maintenance tasks.

Our innovations for cabling such as Netscale and QuickRelease help save costs, space and time.

  • In response to the changes in infrastructure, R&M is launching the FO platform Netscale 72. It enables staggered migration in running network operations. The platform supports both BASE8 and BASE12 cabling.
  • With R&M TAP modules, port monitoring cables and the infrastructure management system R&MinteliPhy, data centers monitor every network connection centrally, remotely, end-to-end, automatically and in real-time.
  • inteliPhy net is a software which completely digitizes network management.
  • Take a look at the R&M Data Center Handbook for orientation.

Our recommendations

  • Plan the data center cabling holistically, extremely precisely and with a view to future upgrades.
  • Network technology must be able to quickly adapt to new requirements: more capacity, higher bandwidths, etc.
  • Take top requirements into consideration: high density, latency, redundancy, automation, simple maintenance.
  • Pre-terminated, modular systems can be implemented quickly and logically without any errors or complications.
  • Guaranteed operational reliability is a necessity for network technology. Data centers must not fail.

Automated cabling monitoring must be an integral part of it. No fiber should be left unmonitored.

400 GigabitsAutomated Infrastructure ManagementData CenterHyperscale Data Center

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