3 reasons cabling is key to future-proofing today’s data centre

The proliferation of IoT and spine-and-leaf architecture

Picture: Groman123 (Flickr)

Picture: Groman123 (Flickr)

We’re on the brink of a major technological evolution which is impacting the way we live, work and communicate. As more and more enterprises embrace digital transformation as the key to unlocking greater efficiency, flexibility and scale, the data centre of the future is fast becoming a reality for the industry.  

By 2020, there will be 20.4 billion networked devices and connections, according to Gartner. Current applications are talking to one another and endpoints need to collaborate. Any one byte of data that is transmitted from the external network into the data centre, can cause data movement of up to 1000 bytes inside the data centre, i.e. incoming data traffic can multiply 1000 times inside the data centre.

With this in mind, here are three reasons why installing more cabling and infrastructure capacity is key to designing future-proofed data centres:

  • Shift in data centre network architecture

The Internet of Things (IoT) is placing increasing and unprecedented demand on network infrastructure. Data centres are under more pressure than ever before to efficiently store and process data and deliver services in real-time. IoT collects low and high bandwidth data from a large area – this could be something as simple as booking an Uber ride from your phone or using artificial intelligence (AI) for facial recognition that requires high intensity computation and storage capacity.

In both examples above, the data centre plays a critical role in receiving data and transmitting it back to deliver a service under the IoT model. As this drives the demand for data centres to rapidly access and process masses of data, it’s changing the physical layer of the network.

As a result, we’re seeing spine-and-leaf architecture become critically important. Spine-and-leaf architecture significantly reduces latency when it comes to accessing data located at different servers (so called East-to-West traffic), since it efficiently moves data across the non-blocking switch fabric formed by physical links in the spine-and-leaf network. This architecture is highly scalable, which means data centre operators can defer investment and quickly scale capacity as and when needed to meet demand. 

  • Next generation mobile networks (5G) will demand more speed

Evolution of the network that feeds data into the data centre will enable new IoT applications and present new challenges for the data centres. One of the hottest topics discussed today is next generation mobile networks or 5G. How will data centres support features of the 5G network that are optimised for IoT and mission-critical applications? Data centres are challenged with serving a very large number of customers – from autonomous cars to smart fridges to people. The density, capacity and latency required to do that is only going to become more critical.

Data centres need to optimise their network for IoT applications. Placing the data centre next to areas where potential IoT applications will be hosted, would help speed up the transmission of data but it’s not always a realistic solution. In addition, the data centre needs to be optimised in such a way that data streaming from devices will reach the facility in the quickest time possible.

5G standards intend to reduce latency by 10x in the radio access network (RAN) to facilitate or enable mission-critical applications, and that will add pressure on data processing times in the data centres. Increasing computational speed in the data centre will not only require faster switches and more processers but also require high speed communications in the switch fabric. This pressure is driving adoption of higher transmission rates, for example 40, 100 and 400 Gb/s, which require optimised cabling solutions.

  • Customer expectation for seamless experiences

Building a data centre to accommodate the relentless evolution to higher transmission rates and help customers derive the outcomes they want, faster, is the most important consideration for the future of any data centre. Data centres need to be able to evolve their optical cabling to meet future capacity requirements largely driven by adoption of ever increasing data rates.

Such was the case for one of the newest players in Australia’s data centre market, Pier DC – the only Tier III-certified facility located within Canning Vale, Western Australia. With a strong customer pipeline, the new data centre required a network infrastructure that would grow with the business. On top of high-speed connectivity, providing end users with a reliable connection is essential. Pier DC turned to a Base-8 optical solution, which affords large data transmission rates over long distance. This ensures Pier DC has a future-ready infrastructure in place to migrate to 40, 100, and/or 400 Gb/s, supporting the company’s growth as it’s required.

As the explosion of data proliferates, customer expectations for a seamless experience are also increasing. It’s becoming more and more important for every data centre to meet future capacity requirements.  By optimising their upfront structured cabling investment, data centre operators can design a facility to support application demands for the next 25 years. Now is the time to ensure that the successful data centre of today exceeds the expectations of tomorrow.

Sergey Ten, Director of Commercial Technology, Corning Optical Communications (Ph.D, Optics and Physics)

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