Data centers are facilities that store and distribute the data we find on the internet. With more than 100 billion web pages, as well as a growing amount of high bandwidth video, it’s easy to understand why giant warehouse-sized data centers have hundreds of thousands of servers, switches, and storage and up to a million interconnections.

While speed is a primary concern for data centers, so is reliability. A data center needs to be available 24/7 to provide fast, reliable, and continuous service for all of its users. Due to its distinct advantages of fast-speed, high-capacity, and high-performance, optical fiber cables are widely deployed around the world and have been the first option for data center cabling as compared to copper. However, despite its distinct benefits, improper practices of fiber cabling may lead to a negative effect on data transmission.  

In this article, we will give some key guidelines and best practices for fiber cable management in data centers.


Tips for Data Center Cabling Design

Before starting the cabling installation process of a data center, planning the basic design for the said data center is essential. Structured cabling is an approach that includes designing cable runs and connections for better data center cable management. Compared with traditional point-to-point cabling, using structured cabling means establishing the main distribution area (MDA), one or several horizontal distribution areas (HDAs), and two-post racks for better access and cable management.

In addition, we need to plan for the cabling patch ways – in fact, it is one of the most important factors to consider when designing the cabling of a data center. The key parameters that may affect the cabling pathways are rack density, type/count/diameter of cables, end equipment cable entry, and room height. All of these parameters need to be considered before the installation of fiber cabling. Lastly, planning for cable routing is also an important element of the design process. Cable routing and design can strongly influence and affect airflow design efficiency, thus eliminating airflow and cooling issues, which have become an increasingly common challenge in data center cabling.


The Importance of Cleaning Data Center

Imagine what would happen if there is no regular cleaning in the data center – the first and foremost impact would be overheating of components. Dust & pollutants are very light-weight, so whenever there is airflow, dust or dirt will move with it. The cooling system of the data center is depending largely on the server fan, which works by bringing the dust and dirt into the cooling system. The accumulation of these contaminants can cause fan failure or static discharge inside the equipment. The heat dissipation will need more time and thus, heat emission efficiency will be limited.

When the cooling system is compromised, the risk of data center failure and downtime will increase. The present-day data centers rely heavily on electronic equipment and fiber optic components, such as fiber optic connectors, which are very sensitive to contaminants. Problems like power failures, loss of data, and short circuits could happen if the contaminants are not removed completely. A short circuit might even start a fire in the data center, which could lead to irreparable damage and loss. This is why regular cleaning and maintenance of data centers is very crucial. Cleaning the data center regularly would help to reduce data center downtime and extend the life span of data center infrastructure equipment


Take Note of Data Center Contaminants

The effective uptime of a data center may decrease if there are too many contaminants, and it might even lead to irreparable damage. But what are the source of data center contaminations, and how can we eliminate that?

Generally, data centers contaminants can be classified into two: from the inside, and outside. Internal contaminants are usually particles coming from the air conditioning units, toner dust, packaging and construction materials, human hair/clothing, as well as zinc whiskers from electroplated steel floors. Meanwhile, external sources of contamination include vehicles, electricity generation, sea salt, natural & artificial fiber, plant pollen, and others – depending on where the data center is located. Dust and dirt can easily influence the life span of data center equipment as well as their operation.


Final Words

These guidelines encompass general-purpose maintenance and management tips for fiber optics in data centers. Having known the best practices for fiber optic management in data centers, now you can minimize the risk of failure due to inadequate planning, improper cleaning, or mishandling of fiber cabling.


As the rollout of 5G continues, the demand for fiber-optic in data centers is likely to ramp up as well. To be able to keep up with 5G bandwidth demands, ensure that you have the right fiber optic cable system in place to support all of the 5G capabilities when they arrive. As the leader in fiber testing, VIAVI Solutions offers the industry’s most complete range of fiber test solutions. VIAVI’s umbrella of interactive tools, testing capabilities, and solutions will help you to thrive, no matter which industry or region you’re working within. 

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