Need for speed: Future-proofing a data centre

Need for speed: Future-proofing a data centre

We live in a data intensive world, and the need for speed is more prevalent than ever. Andreas Sila, market manager of data centres at Huber+Suhner discusses the demands this places on infrastructure, and how operators can utilise a fibre management system to future proof their facility and reduce latency.

As 5G emerges and the trials and tests begin, networks are preparing to manage a huge increase in demand for communication. While it’s still a work in progress, we’re anticipating huge data transfer speeds, with a trial in Sweden demonstrating 5G capabilities of 50 times faster than the current maximum speeds achievable on 4G.

When you couple this with the Internet of Things, an entity that has become the frontier for digital transformation and technology innovation, companies have a huge task on their hands. Much of the data that will be transferred to these devices for smart industries and business will be held in the cloud, and it’s crucial for business processes that the data flows quickly from the end-user to the data centre with no interruption.

This puts an obscene amount of pressure on operators to deliver the technology that the world will need to operate in these super-fast speeds. With an abundance of connected applications that are data intensive and time sensitive, low latency is crucial to ensure the effectiveness of connected devices.

Our world is becoming increasingly built on data and the need to be digital. While some organisations may have the capacity and costs to be able to consistently invest and adapt to the newest technologies as and when they come to market, some require a more permanent, future-proof solution. Organisations of the 21stcentury are looking to eliminate the need for infrastructure to be ripped out and replaced every five years, previously a very expensive and disruptive endeavour.

Along with the increased pressure to cater for speeds and latency, if the promise of 5G is going to be successfully rolled out, time-to-market is crucial. But with new technologies and requirements, how does a data centre cope with unpredictable change? A pay-as-you-grow scalability.

Pay-as-you-grow

Operators should start at the beginning, with an all-in-one fibre management system tailored to data centre applications. Fibre-rich environments demand maximum density in a limited economical footprint. Quick installations as well as moves, adds and changes are important in order to have the ability to handle future growth. Flexibility is key, and a complete solution – where all types of connectivity must be able to be integrated – is non-negotiable. 

As users work to identify the needs of today, and quickly and efficiently upgrade when the additional capacity for growth is demanded, a pay-as-you-grow scalability offering is key. Deciding on the size of your data centre can be challenging. How do you know how far into the future your data centre can operate, when technology is changing and transforming at such a rapid pace?

By incorporating pay-as-you-grow, you’re eradicating idle capacity and ensuring you have the sufficient capacity when it’s crucial. This way, you aren’t penalised by paying for more than you need at any one point. However, that’s only the first step to an all-encompassing data centre.

Closer to the Edge

Offering ultra-low latency to wired and wireless applications is edge computing, which 451 Research defines as, ‘the distribution of compute and storage capabilities to the edge of the network near the point of data generation and data use’ is taking the spotlight as the trend of the future data centre.  With distribution close to the point of data generation, the edge capacity places the data as close as possible to the source of the consumer.

Edge computing works in parallel with micro data centres, which provides the additional resource at points in the network as and when it’s needed. Micro data centres are a vital aspect to pay-as-you-grow infrastructure, as the lower capacity of micro data centres means that while they aren’t large enough to be described as data centres, they are an immediate option to support applications when they need to take on this extra workload.

Integrate the CO and DC

By going one step further and integrating the Central Office (CO) and Data Centre (DC), you can ensure future growth will be well managed. An ever-increasing expansion in fibre capacity has culminated in large Central Offices, where next-generation optical distribution racks and fibre containment systems are used to manage optical fibres.

Typically, for telecom networks, an interconnect method is used. However, in order to maintain maximum flexibility as the network expands, a cross-connect method that connects separate units of the facility within the data centre to reduce latency is a viable alternative.

With fibre-rich environments demanding maximum density within a limited footprint, implementing a cross-connect method makes it easier to support and route throughout the facility. It also means the moves, adds and changes that are critical to adapting to change are done at this centralised point, as opposed to throughout the building.

By selecting a dense side access fibre management system which can be used as a cross-connect, it leads to a highly secure environment. All of the connections are in one location, meaning that there are fewer reasons to interact with the active equipment in the facility, resulting in less human intervention and error.

Edge computing can also be added into a centralised data centre as well as micro data centres, signifying the importance of the method for advanced latency.

With the future requiring such a short time-to-market turn around, selecting a fibre management system with trays that can be installed and removed in seconds is crucial. Along with the flexibility to be installed in a variety of positions – against a wall, as an end cap of a row or back to back in a row, effectively doubling the density - data centres need to remain flexible and ready for anything.

As we head towards the future, we must also consider the past. By utilising a data centre fibre management system, with a combination of utilising a pay-as-you-grow infrastructure and edge computing to centralise and simplify the process, a data centre can continuously adapt to reflect demands.