Erecting the Spinal Cord
The high availability of banks, airlines, etc, must not just be attributed to technology but also to the ‘data centers’
Ever wondered what would be the reason for the smooth functioning of banks, financial institutions, airlines, online transactions, medical informatics, IT services, etc, and more importantly its 24/7 availability. For the smooth functioning, we would refer to the technology but the high availability of these services must be attributed to ‘data centers’ alone. Data centers would have had the state-ofthe-art infrastructure, highly proficient manpower but if there is low bandwidth, isn’t it alarming at once? But mind you, the only solution for this is upgrading the cabling infrastructure.
Until now, the majority of the data centers were on 10 gigabit, but today’s world of digitization is growing leaps and bounds both in terms of its utility and technological advancements. Data explosion demands higher bandwidth, zero downtime, and maximum uptime. Moreover, there has been a drastic change in the communications space, we have been moving for voice to data to high-end applications, and from wired to wireless communications. Applications ranging from development software and ERP systems to consumer content, medical and academic records, and a host of others are continuously driving demand for greater bandwidth and the network should keep pace. Hence today’s data centers cannot rely on 10 gigabit, it has to leap to 40 gigabit and in future it should support 100 gigabit.
40 Gigabit Ethernet Gravity
The 40/100 gigabit are basically high-
The standards of 40 and 100 gigabit are significantly different from the previous generations, also active equipment and how information is transmitted are unique
speed computer network standards which support Ethernet frames at 40 and 100 gigabit per second over multiple 10 or 25 gigabit lanes. It was developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). IEEE 802.3ba 40 and 100 gigabits per second.
The standards of 40 and 100 gigabit are significantly different from the previous generations, also active equipment and how information is transmitted are unique. Even the polarity takes on a new importance. India, like all massive data markets in the world, will have the need for high-speed networking. We have seen larger networks adopt virtualization strategies and consolidation of resources which have been supported by the addition of 10 gigabit network technologies. As this effort continues to scale and bandwidth usage increases, we have seen an increase in the customers‘ developing plans to implement the next logical backbone technologies, 40 and 100 gigabit Ethernet.
“We can certainly expect that India will see a demand for 100 gigabit network speed and beyond. As the internet penetration increases in India, it will lead the consumption of bandwidth and its networks will evolve to service this need,” states James Young, technical director, Commscope Enterprise Solutions Division Asia Pacific about the demand for 40 gigabit in India.
Deployment of an optical connectivity solution allows for an infrastructure that meets these requirements for the current and future data rates. As technology evolves and standards are completed to define data rates such as 40 and 100 gigabit Ethernet, 32 gigabit and high-speed fiber channel, and 40 gigabit and high-speed Infiniband, the cabling infrastructures installed today must provide scalability to accommodate the need for more bandwidth in support of the future applications.
Adoption of 40 Gigabit in India
Network cabling has to be optimized for the inevitable growth and migration to 40/100 gigabit. Ethernet is not a luxury but it is a matter of survival. Indeed 40 gigabit deployments began in 2006 worldwide but the traffic from the past couple of years is actually creating demand for 40 gigabit. The industry feels that the adoption of 40 gigabit in India has started from the past one-and-a-half years after witnessing the 40 gigabit wide scale de-
ployment phase globally and it would continue to capitalize on a market window for high-speed transport that will remain open until solid 100 gigabit roadmap is in place. New 40 and 100 gigabit products will become less expensive and more available over the time and will be supported by many equipment vendors.
Ramesh Nair, product manager, Molex Premise Networks says, “The biggest market for 40 gigabit Ethernet would be for data centers. If the cost drive is right, once 100 gigabit is standardized and commercially available, network operators will quickly capitalize 40 gigabit investments and 100 gigabit transmission for their future deployments. 100 gigabit Ethernet is more for core network aggregation of 10 gigabit and 40 gigabit Ethernet links.”
While speaking about the de facto status on 40 gigabit in India, Shajan George, technical director, R&M India points out, “The 40 gigabit on passive cabling infrastructure is deployed in India but on active cabling devices are not yet deployed. Most of the data center cabling has been on multi-mode as the industry had limited knowledge on cabling infrastructure. Hence re-designing the entire multi-mode cabling system is a requisite. Some of the medium and large data centers have opted for re-designing.”
Migration Path to 40 Gigabit
Heavy multimedia content and increased adoption of advanced networking technologies such as cloud computing, server virtualization, and data warehousing are triggering this kind of demand for higher transmission speeds. For migration, the topmost prominent element is to ensure that network operating companies are ready with 40/100 gigabit physical layer deployment because physical infrastructure is very important for the upgradation to 40 gigabit.
The ideal path for migration is on fiber and it has taken a very good lead because standard bodies are yet to declare on the copper category. Since the last one year, hardly anything has been specified from standard bodies. However a few independent industry stalwarts have stated that category 7A cable could support 50 meters for 40 gigabit and 15 meters for 100 gigabit. The performance on the fiber has great benefits and especially the single-mode fiber has its own advantages over multi-mode, advises Shajan George, technical director, Reichle & De-massari (R&M) India.
“Multi-mode is adopted hugely in the enterprise segment because of the end equipment cost or the connecto rization cost, the connectors, the switches are economical because that works on the LED technology. While a single-mode is perfect for the long distance transmission especially in the telecom domain, the overall cost on single-mode will be slightly higher than a multi-mode but it depends on the distance of a segment. “In fiber technology, only OM3 (Optical Multi-mode) and OM4 fiber categories support 40/100 gigabit,” asserts Shajan
George, technical director, R&M India.
If the physical infrastructure is on a single-mode fiber, migration to 40 gigabit would be easier without any changes in the cabling infrastructure and only the active device should be replaced. A constraint in a multi-mode is that it cannot support long distance. OM3 and OM4 support 100 and 150 meters, respectively. When evaluating the performance needed for the OM3 and OM4 cabling infrastructure to meet the requirements for 40 gigabit and 100 gigabit Ethernet channel insertion loss transmission, 3 criteria should be considered—bandwidth, total connector insertion loss, and skew. Each of these factors can impact the cabling infrastructure’s ability to meet the standard’s specified transmission distances.
The passive cabling industry on fiber is all set for the migration/deployment of 40/100 gigabit. With regard to the connectors on passive segment, the fiber connectors like MPOS are ready but the end equipment or the active device are not available in the market. If the primary network is on multi-mode then they will have to add more fibers. The containment system will increase and the entire connect orization panels and packing systems have to be changed. In multi-mode distance and the apt number of fiber counts becomes a criterion.
“Parallel optics transmission, compared to traditional serial transmission, uses a parallel optical interface where data is simultaneously transmitted and received over multiple fibers. The 40 gigabit and 100 gigabit Ethernet interfaces are 4x10 gigabit channels on 4 fibers per direction, and 10x10 gigabit channels on 10 fibers per direction, respectively,” says Rajiv Kapoor, country director, Leviton Network Solutions.
According to James Young, technical director, Commscope Enterprise Solutions Division Asia Pacific, “As speed increases the quality of network begins to become very apparent. Networks that happily function at 10 gigabit may not support 40 gigabit or 100 gigabit. The bandwidth of fiber and performance of connection hardware will make a huge difference to the future networks.“
Dileep Kumar, country chair, BICSI India and country head, Dirak India says, “While 10 and 40 gigabit implementations have been around over the last few years with reasonable levels of market penetration, the 100 gigabit technology is still in the incubation phase. A direct migration to 100 gigabit will have disadvantages such as higher costs and incompatibility issues with the existing transport infrastructures.” He adds, “From a connectivity perspective, upgradation of a copper network from 10 gigabit to 40/100 gigabit will be a challenge. However MPO/MTP which is the designated interface for fiber for 40/100 gigabit is backward compatible to 10 gigabit.”
Insertion loss is a critical performance parameter in current data center cabling deployments. Total connector loss within
a system channel impacts the ability of a system to operate over the maximum supportable distance for a given data rate. The 40 gigabit and 100 gigabit Ethernet standard specifies the OM3 fiber 100 meter distance maximum channel loss to be 1.9 db, which includes a 1.5 db total connector loss. The OM4 fiber 150 meter distance maximum channel loss is 1.5 db, which includes a 1.0 db total connector loss budget. The insertion loss specifications of the MPO connectivity components should be evaluated when designing data center cabling infrastructures. With low-loss MPO connectivity, components maximum flexibility can be achieved with the ability to introduce multiple connector matings into the connectivity link such that the structured cabling architectures can be supported.
“During the migration there would be challenges like susceptibility to transmission problems. Providing high-speed connectivity while protecting current network infrastructure requires broad expertise and wide ranging test to qualify the state of fiber plant, perform fiber characterization, and access the integrity of data transmission over long haul networks,” advises Ramesh Nair, product manager, Molex Premise Networks.
During migration there will be downtime. Downtime would depend on the size of the data center. Although certain things might function parallelly, yet it would require a downtime of around 4 to 7 days.
Handling Migration—dos and Don’ts
While the migration process adherence to standard approach is paramount, bad installation practices and testing errors would later cost heavily. The CIOS should specify the speed, distance, and number of connections in the process of migration to 40 gigabit and it would help to meet the data center cabling requirements for size, organization, and redundancy.
Cabling experts—r&m, Commscope, Leviton, Molex, and others have unanimously declared to refrain from working with untrained workers to implement or maintain fiber networks. The designer/
The performance on the fiber has great benefits and especially the single-mode fiber has its own advantages over multi-mode
installer should have a good understanding on how data flow happens on fiber for 40 gigabit, ie, it require 4 pairs of fiber; else the network in future would not deliver 40 gigabit output. Besides, termination and connecto rization plays a crucial role. Installers should be aware of the right connectors because space is money and it requires high density, they should either use connectors like MPOS or high density connectors. Performance depends on knowing how to clean, test, and maintain fiber systems in their best possible condition. This requires
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specific training and equipment. There are always challenges to communication systems. Perfect transmission at any speed is a function of design and maintenance of communication systems. As speed increases the investment in communication technology also increases. 100 gigabit systems will demand a higher degree of care and maintenance. The selection of quality components and well trained contractors will not be an option in the future.
Post-migration there would be some transmission challenges like the link losses which is very important in the high-speed network performance. To ensure 100% perfect transmission, installers should ensure that they have used component compliant products in end-to-end connectivity, good installation practices considered while deployment, and solid proof testing after deployment.
Once the 40 gigabit is in place, it would be easy to upgrade to 100 gigabit Ethernet in future by leveraging on the existing fiber.
“It is estimated globally that 100 gigabit will have service window from 2012 until 2016 where the introduction of IT solutions is expected to take place. In India we could expect to see 100 gigabit Ethernet deployment post 2014” “While 10 and 40...
“Networks that happily functioned at 10 gigabit may not support 40 or 100 gigabit. The bandwidth of fiber and performance of connection hardware will make a huge dif ference to future networks”
“The key to perfect transmission is the right count of parallel optic fibers, 4 fibers in the case of 40 gigabit Ethernet and 10 fibers in the case of 100 gigabit Ethernet. Each individual fiber can send data rate of 10 gigabits per second”
“Cabling migration from 10 to 40 gigabit and 100 gigabit per second transmission can be achieved with an MPO based optical connectivity system”