Who is Erika Violet and What is She Doing in My Data Center?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACenturies before Sir Isaac Newton started studying color at the age of 23 in 1666, mankind used color as a means of identification.

Color remains 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 to the outer jacket of a cable.

Despite what you may have heard or seen, there isn’t a new lady or a new type of optical fiber in town. But there is a new color—Erika Violet—and she has a lot to offer when it comes to identifying OM4 fiber in the data center.

History Repeating Itself Isn’t Always a Good Thing

Do you remember the orange 62.5? multimode fiber, otherwise known as OM1? When 50?m OM2 multimode fiber came on the scene, it too was orange.

When technicians see the same color cable in the same data center, it’s often assumed that they are of 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. That’s precisely why the industry experienced countless issues with technicians inadvertently splicing orange OM1 to orange OM2.

One would think that we would have learned a thing or two since then. But when TIA/EIA approved the latest OM4 fiber in 2009, it remained the same color as its OM3 predecessor—Aqua.

So here we are with history repeating itself and technicians not having a way to easily differentiate between OM3 and OM4 fiber, especially when staring at the front of a panel where all the adapters look the same.

Enter Erika Violet (and Her Sister, Heather)

To solve the problem, the European market introduced a new violet color for OM4—known as Heather Violet in the UK and Erika Violet throughout much of mainland Europe. This new color has been accepted in Europe for nearly two years and adoption is on the rise.

Following the precedence set in Europe, several North American companies are now offering Erika Violet components as their new standard for OM4 fiber.

With Erika Violet cable, adapters and connector bodies now prominently displayed in pathways and at fiber panels, it’s easy to know for sure that it’s OM4. And even if fiber jumpers are color-coded per application, the connector body remains Erika Violet—mistakenly plugging in the wrong fiber jumper type is virtually impossible.

OM3OM4Why is She Really Here?

While they might look the same, OM4 fiber offers better performance than OM3. And just like we saw with orange OM1 and OM2 fiber, when OM3 and OM4 are inadvertently spliced or connected at panels, it can cause performance issues that are difficult to troubleshoot.

With today’s optical loss budgets being more of a concern than ever as we prepare for 40 and 100 Gig, using an OM3 connector when you meant to use OM4 can push your loss over the limit. Furthermore, mixing the two can cause a loss of bandwidth and result in an increased bit error rate (BER) on links.

Not everyone touching fiber in the data center these days would know to carefully look at the legend on the cable and understand what it means. But anyone can match color.

So those specifying or purchasing OM4 fiber for the data center would be wise to remember Erika Violet. In addition to still offering traditional Aqua for OM4, Belden is one of the first to now also offer its OM4 fiber cable and connectivity in Erika Violet. Just ask for her by name.

 

 

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

ErikaViolet

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.

StFrancis_jpeg

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.

 

Belden at IBC

When we exhibited for first time at IBC – 15 years ago now – many broadcast engineers preferred proprietary hardware, because it was built specially for the broadcast industry and therefore perceived to be more reliable. Content was produced for one single channel and there was a format that was working well. At today’s IBC, we see instead a lot of IT-based solutions, and there are two main drivers behind this. First, the way the audience views TV content changed. Viewers nowadays are able to watch linear TV on four types of screen: 1) TV; 2) Computer/Laptop/Tablet; 3) Mobile phone; 4) Giant screens/ Public viewing. That means broadcasters are competing in a multiscreen and multiplatform environment. Second, IT infrastructure provides an open framework for managing media, processes and multiple workflows, with the potential for greater productivity, increased efficiency and more agile and profitable operation. Read more »

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