Data centers are not just facilities that house a large number of servers and data storage devices. The whole data center works as a system, with all the entities working together to protect and maintain all the equipments, data transmitted, and the numerous connections between the server and the areas outside the data center. All these entities are interrelated and are connected via a structured cabling system. Designers and engineers are working towards achieving a suitable cabling system, which would define the standards of flexibility, scalability, operational costs, and installation overheads. Designing a cabling system is a complex issue and needs to be weighed considerably before installation.
The factors that need to be considered for an effective cabling system are-
- Scalability: The life expectancy of the cabling infrastructure needs to be calculated between the different components. The future requirement of the center needs to be visualized. It has to be ensured that there is ample space for future additions to servers, ports, and switches.
- Flexibility and Manageability: It has to be clarified if the center needs often moves, additions, and changes. Anticipation of the need to reconfigure the functional areas becomes very important. Ensure there is ample space for extra cabling and router installation.
- Availability: Determine the required uptime necessary for establishment, power, and cooling. Also determine the level of security for each functional area, and the data center as a whole.
- Total cost of cabling: Calculate the investment that goes into the infrastructure of cabling by taking into consideration the scalability, flexibility, and availability requirements.
Each of these factors play very important role in defining the design of a cabling system.
The design of the cabling system has to abide to certain set international standards and regulatory authorities such as-
- TIA 942: Telecommunications Infrastructure Standard, April 2005 – American
- EN 50173-5: Information technology – Data Centers
Smaller scope, European perspective
- ISO/IEC Draft 24764: Information technology
Global Generic Cabling for Data Centers
Industry cabling standards are designed to protect the end-user. They provide a firm foundation and guidelines for maintaining high levels of cable performance. Vendors design the cables according to the prescribed standards and topololgies, so that the installation as per company standards does not have compatibility issues. These standards are reviewed and revised every five to ten years, to keep in pace with the changing technologies and advancements. So all it needs is a bit of understanding the standards, and implementing it as per requirements.
Practices in maintaining the cabling system-
- Avoid bundling up of cables, and stocking up multiple cables one on top of the other. This would degrade the performance of the cables. Do not pile copper and fiber cables together, as heavy copper cables crush the vulnerable fiber cables placed underneath.
- Ensure that the cabling is compliant to the industry standards.
- Applying stress on the cables should be avoided.
- Extra tension, and pressure above permissible limits should be avoided.
- Avoid clumsy infrastructure, do not add many components resulting in a crowded location.
Choose the strongest foundation for the cabling support, achieving future goals and requirements. Since each environment is different, it is difficult to choose the correct cabling system. Following the guidelines and standards, will help in the effective employment of the cable infrastructure.
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