Get In The Zone

casinoSupported by both TIA commercial and data center standards, fiber zone cabling has been around for a while as a viable means for improving manageability, flexibility, scalability and security in a variety of applications—from the casino floor to the data center.

Let’s take another look at the practice of fiber zone cabling and its benefits, applications and considerations.

Active in the Horizontal

In the horizontal space, fiber zone cabling logically places connectivity to support a group of devices or work areas. Rather than deploying multiple long home-run copper cables from the closet to each device, active zones involve fewer runs of fiber from the closet to a switch in the zone and then shorter runs of copper that extend from the switch to each device.

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Where might we see this deployed? Think of an open office with various work areas or cubicles segregated by department or function, a casino floor with several zones or pods of slot machines, or even a stadium with point-of-sale (POS) machines in one area to support food and beverage vendors.

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It’s a Colorful World: From the Data Center to the Outlet

Since the beginning of mankind, color has always been the easiest way to identify, recognize and classify just about anything, and it has always been an integral part of our industry—from the colors of individual fibers and copper conductors, to the outer jacket of a cable and modular jacks.

Let’s take a look at how color today is improving performance, manageability and visibility from the data center to the outlet.

Erika Violet and Her Twin Sister Heather

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By now you may have heard about or seen the new standard color for OM4 fiber—Erika Violet. Also known as Heather Violet in the UK, this bright pinkish color being used for OM4 cable, adapters and connectors isn’t just an attempt to jazz up the data center.

When OM4 fiber was first approved in 2009, it remained the same color as its OM3 predecessor—aqua. When technicians see the same color cables and connectors, they often assume they are the same type. To truly differentiate, their only choice is to follow the cable back and carefully examine the tiny (sometimes illegible) cable legend or check their documentation.

With today’s optical loss budgets being more of a concern than ever as we prepare for 40G duplex, using an OM3 channel when you meant to use OM4 can push your loss over the limit and cause loss of bandwidth on fiber links.

With Belden OM4 Erika Violet cable, adapters and connectors now prominently displayed in pathways and at fiber panels, mistakenly plugging in the wrong fiber type is virtually impossible.

An Easier Way to Segregate and Manage

Color doesn’t just help ensure performance. For decades, municipalities and jurisdictions having authority (JHAs) have specified unique cable colors for fire alarm and other life safety systems. With so many different systems now converging onto a single IP-based infrastructure and the same type of cabling, color has become more important than ever.

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In telecommunication spaces, segregating systems using color eases management at patch panels for IT staff. At the outlet, color can help ensure that the right equipment is plugged into the right jack. This is especially important for critical systems that support life and safety. TIA-1179 healthcare standards even recommend colored cables to segregate and identify various healthcare systems.

St. Francis Hospital in Columbus , Georgia recently took advantage of the 16 different color varieties available for Belden cable and modular jacks installed copper patch panels and workstation outlets to segregate healthcare systems and medical office tenants in their new 400,000 square foot expansion.

Read the St. Francis Hospital Case Study

And Provide Better Visibility Too

Color also determines how light is reflected, which is why many data centers are going with lighter cabinets and enclosures such as Belden’s X Series enclosures available in central office white and titanium FiberExpress Ultra HD housing.

With gray-white reflecting up to 80% of light and black only reflecting 5%, black cabinets and enclosures can make it more difficult for technicians to see. Lighter cabinets and enclosures reduce the need for more lighting and they don’t absorb as much heat. This has the potential to reduce lighting energy consumption and help keep equipment cool.

So whether you want to ensure that OM3 and OM4 fiber type are not inadvertently mixed, segregate various systems for easier management or improve visibility, don’t discount color when designing your data center and network infrastructure.

 

The Golden Rule of Polarity

goldenruleWhen it comes to ensuring polarity so that the transmit signal (Tx) at one end of the channel matches the corresponding receiver (Rx) at the other end, there is one golden rule to live by:

Always use the same type of patch cord within a single facility

When fiber patch cords have different polarity schemes and gender, IT staff needs to be very careful when replacing patch cords in the field. Those that don’t understand polarity or are in a rush to get equipment up and running can potentially use the wrong patch cord and impact signal transmission.

In the case of multi-fiber MPO patch cords, using the wrong gender can also damage critical active equipment. Having the same patch cord polarity and gender throughout the facility eliminates these risks and facilitates inventory management.

The remaining rules of polarity all stem from this golden rule. Read more »

Real-World Fiber Networks: Getting A Handle on Key Considerations

May29_webinar_1If you’re a regular Belden data center blog follower, you’ve probably seen several blogs in the past year that cover several of the key considerations for designing, deploying and testing today’s low-loss fiber networks.

We’ve covered everything from standards, connector types and loss values, to polarity, best testing methods and optimum multi-point topologies.

The good news is that I will be bringing all of these considerations together and covering each in much greater detail in my upcoming June 10th webinar, “Cabling the Hyper Data Center: Designing, Deploying and Testing Today’s Los-Loss Fiber Networks.”

Following are some of the key highlights:

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Angled Fiber and Copper Panels: Together at Last?

angleflexMaintaining a seamless appearance has not always been easy for middle of row (MoR) or end of row (EoR) distribution areas in the data center where dissimilar-looking copper and fiber patch panels typically reside within the same cabinet—especially with many data center managers preferring the use of angled copper patch panels that provide more intuitive routing and save space by eliminating the need for horizontal managers.

When looks are high on the priority list, some have had to forego the angled copper patch panels in favor of flat to better match the fiber panels in the same cabinet. It’s simply an aesthetics issue that the industry has had to deal with when distributing fiber from core switches to intermediate switches and then transitioning to copper for the servers within the same cabinet. Read more »

DCS Award Nomination for FX Brilliance Connectors

PrintThe Data Centre Solution Awards were established to honor the achievements of end users, manufacturers and suppliers in the Data Center sector. Now in their fourth year, they are seen as a recognition of excellence.

I am pleased to see that one of our products, the Belden FiberExpress Brilliance Universal Connector, has been selected as a finalist in the Data Center Cabling Product of the Year category.  And it is easy to see why: brilliant in design and universal in implementation, FiberExpress Brilliance Universal no-epoxy, no-polish, no-crimp field-installable connectors make fiber field termination faster, easier and better.  Thanks to its industry-leading design, it only takes three simple steps to terminate a connector.

Naturally, we are proud to be nominated – and would be delighted to receive your support – and your vote.  Simply go here to cast your vote. You can cast your vote until 1 May – so there is still plenty of time.

And click here if you want to learn more about Belden FiberExpress Brilliance Universal Connectors.

FX Universal Connectors

Why Design to the Max

B38_TyporMaxIn an era where loss budgets are more stringent than ever and most manufacturers are publishing both typical and maximum insertion loss values, knowing which loss values to base the design of your channel on is more important than ever.

The idea of a loss budget is to ensure that the application will function over the installed channel. Rather than using the best possible connector loss values, designers should be conservative and give themselves some margin.

In other words, play it safe and base your testing loss limits on the manufacturer’s specified “maximum” insertion loss values.

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Partner event – Take Another Look at Belden

As enterprises and data centers are evolving, Belden’s product offering has grown and our industry specific solutions have become more sophisticated. In fact, we believe that now is the right time for our partners to take another look at Belden.

And we have invited our partners in the Middle East region to do exactly that.  On Wednesday 23 October, we will be staging an event called “Experience the Change”, a dynamic one day partner event in Dubai.

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