In today’s data center environment, managers are tasked with packing maximum computing power into the smallest possible footprint, or in many cases, the existing (read: undersized) footprint. This trend paints the scene of a conversation between a CIO and an operations manager reminiscent of the iconic Oliver Twist scene:
“Please, Sir, I want some more.” … “WHAT!?”
More often than not, the option to grow into a bigger footprint isn’t possible. Data Center managers must make do with existing space – and that existing space is valuable. At the extreme, it was estimated that in 2007 Google spent nearly $3,000 per square foot at its North Carolina facility.1 More conservative estimates project that the average data center square foot costs around $1,000. According to Anixter’s white paper “Data Center Design and Infrastructure Estimates”, price per square foot ranged from about $450 in a Tier I data center, to $1,100 in a Tier IV data center.2 Simply put, the usable floor space is valuable. It’s imperative to make efficient use of the available space.
Because Moore Means More, We Have Our Benefits and Our Challenges
Moore’s law estimates that processor speeds will double every two years – integrated circuits will become smaller and speeds will increase. Evidence of this is displayed in the active equipment deployed in the data center. For example, in 1995, the GBIC transceiver was first produced and became widely used in switches and routers. Fast forward a few years, and a new hot-pluggable module around 1/2 to 1/3 of the size of a GBIC was introduced - the small form factor pluggable module (SFP).3 The SFP transceiver was designed for 1Gbps transmission, SFP+ for 10Gbps, and subsequently QSFP transceivers are able to support speeds up to 40/100Gbps, ushering greater speeds in a smaller footprint. According to Uptime Institute’s Inaugural Data Center Industry Survey, data center managers are certainly taking advantage of technological developments. In fact, about 60% of respondents expect to upgrade, renovate, or build a new data center within the next three years.2 With higher density equipment and higher speed comes the need for more connections, often times within the existing data center footprint. So, how can a manager best utilize his or her facility while keeping operating expenditures (OPEX) at bay? Look to Layer 1 - the Physical Layer.
Optimizing Space with Layer 1
There are plenty of ways equipment manufacturers have kept up with Moore’s law by packing more computing power into smaller footprints. For example; new media like HD video capabilities on personal devices, new server design, and optimized power and cooling solutions have contributed to higher densities in the data center. However, managers must now focus on the infrastructure by increasing physical rack density, using open space outside the rack to free up space within the rack, and “going vertical” as new ways to gain space. Managers must also keep operating expenditures (OPEX) low, and should consider the adverse effects of added cable density on airflow for passive cooling. With the average cost per square foot hovering around $1,000, space optimization is imperative. Choosing the right passive products at Layer 1 is an excellent place to start.
4 Ways to Optimize Space at Layer 1
1) Make Better Use of the Rack Unit
Consider rightsizing connector port densities by planning for future additions to the network. As fiber densities increase from 72, to 96, to 144 LC connections per rack unit, consider selecting the right density to grow into your footprint. Also consider that LC (2‑fiber) connectors are currently being replaced by MPO (multi-fiber, typically 12 or 24 fibers) connectors as 10GbE (gigabit Ethernet) migrates to 40 GbE and 100 GbE. Consider deploying parallel optics as an option to support future needs.
For copper deployments, there are solutions available to double rack unit (RU) densities by deploying 48 port patch panels in a single RU. Consider high density connectivity mounting options that support mixed media to deploy copper and fiber in the same rack unit. Mixed media patch panels provide flexibility and scalability by allowing media to be changed or connectivity to be added as needed, eliminating the need to know the exact number of ports or connector types. Maximizing connector density in the RU makes valuable square footage available and opens space in the rack for active devices.
2) Use Cable Management to Your Advantage
There are numerous approaches to optimize the rack space. First, consider the style of patch panel being deployed. Angled panels help route cords to the vertical cable manager, eliminating the need for horizontal cable management and freeing up valuable RU space. Selecting an angled patch panel with mounting ears that recess the panel into the rack space can reduce how far patch cords protrude from the front of the rack or cabinet. In cases where horizontal cable management is preferred, consider the use of a zero RU horizontal manager to help route cables to the vertical cable manager.
The hex pattern design of Legrand’s Mighty Mo 20 rack provides industry leading flexibility to route cables through the side wall of the rack. Accessories are available to maintain proper bend radius and protect cabling. Both the Mighty Mo 20 (MM20) and the LX Cabinet seamlessly integrate with overhead cable management tray, enabling maximum flexibility for cable routing. In addition, the MM20 and LX Cabinet cable management system’s vertical managers provide ample capacity for 48 Category 6A patch cords per RU on a single side of the equipment. This is often necessary to avoid a fan tray, power supply or other removable parts of active equipment.
3) Deploy Smaller Diameter Cables
Smaller diameter cables support high densities while improving airflow. 28AWG copper modular patch cords can support up to CAT6A channel performance in high density applications. The Reduced Diameter Cords (RDC) help reduce congestion and improve airflow through cabling pathways. For example, Category 6A Reduced Diameter Cords occupy less than 66% of the space required for similar performing Legrand MC6A cords. This easily allows over 1.5 times as many cords to be deployed into less space than what is required for 26AWG cords. RDC cords also have a much smaller bend radius limitation of just over 0.77 inches. Tight bend radius can help when cable routing is restrictive or in very high density applications.
The shrinking design of fiber cable diameters from 3mm, to Uniboot 2.4mm, and now 2mm (with talks of reducing to 1.6mm) have certainly helped increase fiber cable density. Even so, the data center is being squeezed to produce more with less. Legrand’s HiLOC solution (Harness in Lieu of Cassette) eliminates the need for space-consuming break out cassettes. In addition, the trunk side of the harness occupies 1/6 of the space of 6 separate patch cords, saving space in the pathway and maximizing airflow.
4) Patching Outside of the Rack or Cabinet
Grow the physical footprint by increasing cable density and rack space within the same floor square footage. Overhead racking solutions can add up to 16% more rack space (up to 8 RUs) without taking any additional floor space. Select overhead racking solutions that are flexible enough to mount in multiple locations, including mounting to cable tray like Cablofil and tubular runway, or hang from a ceiling using threaded rods. Overhead racking also provides a patching solution for specialized storage area network (SANS) cabinets when there is no standard patching field in the cabinet.
Enable zero RU fiber patching capability by mounting the HiLOC Multi Use Panel to cable tray or Mighty Mo 20 vertical managers, or use the HiLOC spool to mount the solution to the hex pattern of the Mighty Mo. This can help manage the harness when transitioning between higher-speed applications using multiple transmit and receive fibers and lower-speed duplex fiber applications.
Consider a cabinet solution that offers patching locations outside of the traditional RU space. Options are available with side patching locations, allowing for up to an additional 8 RU of mounting space outside of the existing patching field.
In today’s data centers, space is at a premium. As speeds continue to increase and densities skyrocket, managers will continue to be tasked with the challenge of optimizing the expensive square footage in his or her facility. Over time, there have been major advancements in the way networks are deployed, powered, cooled and managed, but density challenges remain a constant. Next time the question “MORE!” is posed, consider looking to Layer 1, or passive infrastructure solutions, to optimize the use of the existing footprint.
References and further reading:
- Data Center Knowledge “Google Data Centers: $3,000 A Square Foot?” - http://go.legrand.us/e/84502/ta-centers-3000-a-square-foot-/79blt2/232181563
- Data Center Journal “The Price of Data Center Availability” - http://go.legrand.us/e/84502/e-of-data-center-availability-/79blt4/232181563
- Fiber Optic Components “The Evolution and Trends of Fiber Optic Transceivers” - http://go.legrand.us/e/84502/-fiber-optic-transceivers-html/79blt6/232181563
Data center managers are increasingly seeking effective airflow management solutions that will prevent a data center from overheating; these solutions must also be cost-efficient. This has given rise to attention paid to containment solutions, so we wanted to take a look at how to optimize these popular and successful strategies.
To maximize the performance of your containment solution, you should follow airflow management best practices. These include the following key points to follow:
- The cabinet should be deployed with air dams and blanking panels at a minimum.
- Additional components should also be used when deploying containment, such as bottom panels, floor seals, seal kits/angled airflow baffles, front to rear blanking panels and top panel grommets.
Deploying these accessories ensures maximum efficiency by eliminating bypass airflow and recirculation. The accessories also ensure that all of the cold air is going through the equipment and a uniform intake temperature is achieved from the bottom to the top of the cabinet.
The uniform temperature creates a predicable environment for the equipment to operate in, helping to prevent over temperature alarms or equipment shut downs for maximum reliability and uptime. These best practices help maximize the CRAC unit set point.
And guess what? All components required to follow best practices are available on the Legrand LX cabinet system!
For years the Mighty Mo 6 product line has been recognized as the industry leader in cable management for small to medium data and distribution applications. Now it has gotten even better. The NEW Mighty Mo 6 Enhanced has been completely redesigned to add even more flexibility to you network physical infrastructure. The Mighty Mo 6 enhanced rack includes new features to improve bonding, grounding, and cable management. Coupled with the all NEW efficient Q Series Vertical Manager, you can now have all the features of the Mighty Mo family of products at a reduced price. This new platform, known as Mighty Mo 6 Enhanced, is set to debut in May of this year where we will talk in more detail about the platform enhancements.
In today’s data centers, you typically have network architectures based on 3-tier (Core/Aggregation/Access) and spine & leaf, with topologies including Top of Rack, End of Row & Middle of Row. Although these architectures are widely utilized and they do have their benefits, there are many challenges:
- CAPEX/OPEX LIMITATIONS: Large number of switches/more active equipment (CAPEX). Power and cooling costs are high (OPEX). Moves, adds and Changes (MACs) are labor intensive (OPEX).
- LABOR INTENSIVE MAINTENANCE: Technicians must be on-site to carry out any MACs. It is time consuming to locate/isolate problems and take corrective action.
- HUMAN ERRORS: The technician must be on-site to carry out MACs, so there is a potential for human errors, which can be extremely costly in downtime.
- MANUAL NETWORK LABELING & DOCUMENTATION: Labeling, documentation and asset management is a labor intensive process that requires careful attention and record keeping. There is also potential for human error. Often one key person becomes responsible. If that person leaves the organization, there is a significant network knowledge gap.
- ASSET MANAGEMENT: Manual “book-keeping” is labor intensive, and sometimes overlooked or ignored. Again, there is potential for network knowledge loss due to personnel changes.
- CONNECTION SPACE CONSTRAINTS: Space is at a premium. There is a constant need for higher densities and a great risk for “outgrowing” physical space.
- EXPENSIVE NETWORK MONITORING: Today, network monitoring is accomplished through the use of tapped cassettes. Not only are they expensive, but they also require on-site labor to physically connect the cassette to perform diagnostics.
- MORE BANDWIDTH/LESS LATENCY: With speeds constantly increasing, it is an uphill battle to keep up with the increasing amount of traffic on the network.
- VARIOUS POLARITY METHODS: The TIA provides guidelines around different methods for polarity, and each of these methods requires particular types of components. It is a labor intensive process to map out port-to-port polarity, and careful consideration is needed for asset management.
- CONSTANT MACS WITH UPGRADES AND MIGRATIONS: Constantly trying to keep up with the network changes is a very manual and labor intensive process today.
There is now a better way to design your network and leverage your fiber infrastructure, which will greatly reduce or completely eliminate the limitations listed above. It is called the Glass CoreTM, and it is a solution from Legrand and powered by Fiber Mountain. With the use of the Glass Core’s optical cross-connects, and intelligent patch panels in each server cabinet, combined with the power of software orchestration and management, you can now leverage your fiber physical layer and truly create a dynamic and managed fiber connectivity.
With this solution, a data center manager can achieve the ultimate scalability using ultra-high density 24-fiber MPO connectivity with ample room to grow, all at the click of a button.
The software-based management eliminates "manual” book-keeping and significantly reduces the man-hours needed to complete moves, adds and changes. You can also perform maintenance and manage assets from anywhere in real-time.
With software-driven MACs and asset management, the potential for human error is greatly diminished. No need to map ports or use expensive testing equipment or tapped cassettes for diagnostics. You can now get a live look at your network from the software, no matter where you are in the world.
If you want to add bandwidth or reroute data in layer one, you can do so with the click of a button. You have automated network re-configurability, and you can reserve and provision parts or all of your network. It is a tremendous advantage to be able to perform MACs anywhere in the world, in real-time, without the need for a technician to be present on-site.
With the Glass Core solution, your most dramatic cost savings will come from not having to use very expensive passive optical tapped cassettes, modules and panels. This capability already comes built into the software now managing your fiber infrastructure.
You can also drastically reduce your labor cost associated with MACs; or nearly eliminate downtime due to human errors. Keep in mind that the average cost per minute of downtime for a data center is $7,900/min according to a 2013 study by the Ponemon Institute, and that’s a 41% increase since 2010!
How about the potential to optimize the highest operating cost of running a data center: power and cooling for your switching equipment? Imagine if you not only had less equipment to cool, but you could design an architecture that better isolates the equipment that needs power and cooling.
The glass core solution brings clear benefits to a vast array of data centers. For hyper-scale data centers, this solution greatly simplifies the management of what can be an extremely complex network, whether it is in one site or multiple sites across the globe. For colocations, it provides easier configuration and set-up using software, which means faster deployment and less mistakes.
For any data center, it is highly complementary to the switching layer. The intelligent patch panel is in fact a great solution for port replication because the software is able to pull information from the switch itself, and replicate its status visually on the panel with LEDs.
In summary, with the Glass Core solution, your network physical layer and devices are now discoverable by software. By connecting to the orchestration software, it provides accurate topology mapping and usage of your entire network, including port identification. This can be very valuable especially in ultra-high density environments where it is very difficult to label the ports because of physical space limitations. The software offers remote real-time network topology changes and has the potential to give you a full audit trail of any updates. You also have real-time visibility to available ports, being able to reserve or provision them when needed.
This new architecture approach combines software orchestration and management (or Software-Defined Networking) with fiber connectivity and physical infrastructure. It is the future for data centers across the globe to leverage the benefits of a dynamic and managed fiber connectivity layer. It will become the building block to enable rapid changes, on a massive scale, with greater visibility whenever you need it, while delivering the ultimate in network management and OPEX savings.
For more information, please visit http://go.legrand.us/e/84502/glasscore/771rhz/228842919
The Legrand team had a real blast on February 24th, at the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway!
What were we doing in Daytona, the “World Center of Racing” for NASCAR?
Watching the Legrand truck – #22 in the program– at the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season-opening NextEra Energy Resources 250.
This unique opportunity came about through our partnership with Superior Essex and AM Racing (@AMRacingNASCAR). We teamed with Superior Essex to back veteran NASCAR driver JJ Yeley as he piloted the Legrand truck (a Toyota Tundra) in his 23rd career NCWTS start – and first since last March’s race at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway.
This was a first for Legrand – sponsoring a NASCAR truck and participating in the excitement with some of our customers. It was an exciting race with JJ Yeley narrowly missing a large pile-up early in the race and finishing P9 in the race. Great job to JJ and we are excited for the opportunity to be a sponsor of more races to come.
Follow JJ Yeley on Twitter @JJYeley or follow AM Racing on Twitter @AMRacingNASCAR .