FOCUS on CONNECTIVITY
The backbone beyond the data center
Fiber Map, as drawn for Allied Fiber
Faster networking technologies are emerging, and more and more data is being generated thanks to the rise of rich media content such as video on demand. This means the cabling infrastructures of the modern data center must have suitable bandwidth in their backbone to ensure there is no congestion or bottleneck across their network infrastructure.
The reliability and performance of today’s data centers often has a direct impact on the business, so making the right decision and investment in the network infrastructure physical layer can save time, money and frustration, and ensure business continuity.
Without the right foundation, a data center’s equipment, applications and devices are useless, and its reliability and performance – both now and in future – are in jeopardy.
Indeed, the fiber backbone is the core element in the data center network architecture, down which all traffic must travel at one point or another. Two commonly used designs of backbone networks are the bus or star backbone.
Backbone cables will typically be built with high fiber counts, as they interconnect various pieces of network, providing a path for the exchange of information between different LANs or subnetworks. In the laterals there are usually relatively fewer fibers in the cable since they will carry less traffic and are therefore used less.
Of course, backbones are installed to suit individual requirements. A backbone can tie together diverse networks in the same building, in different buildings in a campus environment (intra-building backbone), or over wide areas. The backbone’s capacity is greater than the networks that are connected to it.
And you also have the outside internet or carrier backbones of the communication service providers. In the UK, this can be communication providers such as BT, Colt Telecom, C&W and Virgin Business, but suppliers differ depending on the country.
There are also many companies offering networking equipment, cabling and technology solutions for backbones inside the data center.
The backbone is perhaps the most crucial part of the physical network infrastructure. The backbone cabling within the data center provides the critical connections, and in many of today’s data centers it supports 10GB transmission speeds for current and future applications.
Outside the data center there are also a great deal of options for internet or carrier-based backbones. It all depends on your available communication suppliers.
But for the individual data center, how do facility managers future-proof their network? Well some would say it can’t be done and you need to upgrade parts of the network as and when required, or when it is feasible to do so, ensuring it will have minimal disruption on business operations, or when there is available budget/management commitment.
But in the backbone, if you install a large fiber count optical fiber cable with lots of spare single-mode fibers, you probably have a good chance of supporting your network for some 10 or 20 years. The backbone is easier to deal with since it changes a lot less often than other network connections.
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