Cabling Demands for Digital Buildings

2017 to be the year of the digital building, and there has certainly been progress in this direction as predicted. In fact, according to Deloitte, sensor deployment in commercial buildings could potentially grow by 79% between 2015 and 2020.

Support for Internet of Things (IoT) is growing, bringing standalone building systems onto one platform. As all these systems and devices are being connected on a single IP network, they can be integrated to gather data, make automatic adjustments and provide intelligence and analytics for informed decision-making to reduce operating costs and energy use, increase occupant satisfaction, improve safety and reduce time spent on troubleshooting and maintenance.

In some cases, existing infrastructure are already being put to the test due to cloud adoption. As augmented and virtual reality move into the workplace – whether office settings, hospitals, hospitality environments or educational institutions – and more devices join the network, demands placed on infrastructure will become more intense. (And even though this newer technology is not widely deployed yet – check back in a few years.)

What demands do these digital buildings place on cabling infrastructure? A well-designed, high-performance cabling infrastructure is what brings IoT and digital buildings to life. All of the data (and power, in most cases) required for these devices and applications is traveling via the network’s category cabling. Without it, devices wouldn’t be able to communicate to each other, gather and relay important information or be controlled and adjusted remotely.

As digital buildings take over, it’s important to keep in mind the demands they place on a structured cabling system.

Demand No. 1: More Power Needs

Digital building cabling will need to support Power over Ethernet (PoE). This cabling technology safely transmits power and data over a single standard network cable, allowing devices – cameras, lighting systems, wireless access points, etc. – to be deployed anywhere. This allows remote control and data collection on one infrastructure. As device complexity continues to increase, the amount of power these devices need also increases (up to 100W in some cases). Outdated cabling systems won’t be able to safely and successfully carry this power level.


Demand No. 2: Increased Temperatures

Running more power inside a network cable can increase the cable’s internal temperature. When cables get hotter, insertion loss increases. This can cause unplanned downtime and may ultimately damage the cable, hurting its long-term performance.

If cables are tightly packed in trays and pathways, temperatures could rise even more because they can’t dissipate. When a cable’s temperature exceeds the recommended level, it may need to be de-rated – which means it won’t reach the full length promised.

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Expectation for Fiber Connectivity: Layer 0

The footprints of cloud data centers continue to increase substantially to accommodate massive amounts of servers and switches. To support sustainable business growth, many Web 2.0 companies, such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, have decided to deploy 100G Ethernet using single mode optics-based infrastructure in their new data centers.

According to LightCounting and Dell’Oro, 100G transceiver module and switch port shipments this year will outpace last year’s shipments, with 10 times as many being shipped in 2017 vs. 2016. Shipment for 200G/400G switch ports will begin in 2018.

Data Center Architecture and Interconnects

Most intra-rack fiber connectivity has been implemented with DAC (direct-attach cables). As we discussed in our fiber infrastructure deployment blog series, system interconnects with a reach longer than 5 m must use more fiber connectivity to achieve the desired bandwidth.

100G, 200G, and 400G transceivers for data center applications have already been showcased by various vendors; massive deployment is expected to start in 2018. Based on reach requirements, different multimode and signal optical transceivers are being developed with optimized balance between performance and cost. Examples include:

  • In-room or in-row interconnects with multimode optics or active optical cables (AOCs), with a reach of up to 100 m. (New multimode transceivers, such as 100G-eSR4, paired with OM4/OM5 multimode fiber, can support a maximum reach of up to 300 m for 100G connectivity, which is suitable for most intra-rack interconnects.)
  • On-campus interconnects (inside the data center facility), with transceiver types such as PSM4 (parallel singlemode four-channel fiber) or CWDM4/CLR4 (coarse wavelength division multiplexing over duplex singlemode fiber pair) for 500 m reach.
  • On-campus interconnects (between data center buildings), with transceiver types such as PSM4 and CWDM4/CLR4 for a reach of 2 km.
  • Regional data center cluster interconnects, also referred as data center interconnects (DCIs), using coherent optics (CFP2-ACO and CFP2-DCO) for a reach of over 100 km, or direct modulation modules, such as QSFP28 DWDM ColorZ, for reach of up to 80 km.

Multimode Fiber Roadmap to 400G and Beyond

Multimode optics use low-cost VCSELs as the light source. When compared to singlemode transceivers, which utilize silicon photonics, VCSELs have some native performance disadvantages:

  • Fewer available wavelengths for wavelength division multiplexing
  • Speed is limited by the singlemode laser
  • Less advanced modulation options
  • High fiber counts needed to deliver required bandwidth
  • Shorter reach in multimode fiber (limited by fiber loss and dispersion) compared to singlemode fiber

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IP-Based Systems and PoE in Digital Buildings

Digital buildings, smart buildings, intelligent buildings, connected buildings – no matter what you name them, the sentiment is the same: A building with devices and systems that are designed to collect and share data to run as efficiently as possible without human intervention.

IP-based systems – also known as networked systems – are what make this idea possible. These systems use Internet Protocol (IP) to communicate with each other through IP addresses and data packets. All types of building devices can be IP-based:

  • Access control
  • AV systems
  • Building controls/HVAC
  • Digital signage
  • Fire/life safety systems
  • LED lighting
  • Surveillance cameras
  • Voice/data systems
  • Wireless access points (WAPs)

To function, an IP-based system needs access to power and data. When deployed in digital buildings, they offer many benefits:

Simple Scalability

Only need 15 surveillance cameras today? Then that’s all you need to install. If you decide you need more devices, the system can quickly and easily be expanded. If you decide that you need fewer devices, they are easy to uninstall. The system doesn’t require you to install a certain number at a time.

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Single-Pair Ethernet Cabling: Four New Applications

Four New Types of Single-Pair Ethernet Cabling

For years, Ethernet cabling has used four twisted pairs to carry data without worrying about noise in data lines. Recent developments in IEEE 802.3 (Ethernet Working Group) and TIA TR-42(Telecommunications Cabling Systems Engineering Committee) has unveiled four standards projects which may change that; instead of four balanced twisted-pairs cabling, these standards feature a single balanced twisted-pair Ethernet cabling.

Of these four, one will impact enterprise networks the most. We will cover this standard first, and then explain the three other types of single-pair Ethernet cables below.

IoT 1 Gbps Applications: 100 m Reach

2017 Ericsson Mobility Report says that there will be nearly 28 billion connected devices in place globally by 2021 – and more than half of these will be related to Internet of Things (IoT).

With the ability to deliver data at speeds of up to 1G, and PoE power, this standard is intended specifically for IoT applications. Known as ANSI/TIA-568.5, it will provide cable, connector, cord, link and channel specifications for single-pair connectivity in enterprise networks.

This single-pair Ethernet cable may help network professionals connect more devices to their networks as the industry moves toward digital buildings – where all types of systems and devices integrate directly with the enterprise network to capture and communicate data.

Most of the devices used in digital buildings – such as sensors – have minimal power and bandwidth requirements (in applications like building automation and alarm systems). In these cases, single-pair Ethernet cable can provide a cost-effective cabling solution. The cable is smaller and lighter than a standard four-pair Ethernet cable, so it can also reduce pathway congestion.

The three other single-pair Ethernet cable types don’t apply directly to data centers or enterprise networks, but they’re still important to understand.

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Data Centre Audits: What’s the Difference?

There are numerous things to “audit” inside a data center in order to keep it operating at peak performance. When your team starts talking about a data center audit, make sure you know your options.

Depending on your goals, and what you hope to accomplish, there are several varieties of data center audits that be conducted. Here is a summary of the most common, and what types of information they can uncover.

Security Audit

A data center audit focusing on physical security will document and ensure that the appropriate procedures and technology are in place to avoid downtime, disasters, unauthorized access and breaches. It will revolve around things like:

In addition to analysing current security processes, a security audit can also provide you with improvement recommendations.

Energy Efficiency/Power Audit

A data center energy efficiency audit helps you pinpoint potential ways to reduce energy usage and utility bills. By taking a close look at power use, the thermal environment and lighting levels, an energy audit can uncover things such as malfunctioning equipment, incorrect HVAC settings and lights being left on in unused/unoccupied spaces.

During a data center audit that focuses on energy efficiency, power usage effectiveness (PUE) can also be calculated (based on dividing total power usage by IT equipment power). By tracking this number, you can establish benchmarks and determine whether data center performance is improving or declining over time.


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DCIM/AIM Webinar – 24th Jan 11AM SAST

DCIM/AIM Software & Hardware Solution – Belden PatchPro®

24th January @ 11am SAST (South African Standard Time)

Join Wolfgang Schröder and Christos Birbilis from Belden to learn more about PatchPro®, Belden Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software and Automated Infrastructure Management (AIM) hardware solutions.

PatchPro®Infrastructure DCIM/AIM solution works with PatchPro® hardware to achieve transparency and accuracy in complex, demanding environments. Adapting to any environment – small businesses, large enterprises or sophisticated data centers – PatchPro®I modular architecture allows you to license only the components you need.

Licensing is based on concurrent users, allowing you to install the software on as many workstations as you like – and allows you to grow in the future. It can also be adapted to your specific requirements without programming or expensive consulting.

With PatchPro®, you can:

  • Monitor vital systems for early recognition of potential bottlenecks, such as hotspots, excessive power usage and other critical conditions that could impact business continuity
  • Minimize the effort required to prepare for assessments, delivering data and documents to auditors for a fast signoff
  • Extract business-critical, real-time data from your network and display it in tables, charts or combined dashboards
  • Make sure existing data center capacity is utilized before investing in an expansion
  • Support any topology (star, ring, bus or mashed network structures) or any voltage (low-, medium- or high-voltage [230 V, 400 V, 500 V])
  • Integrate air conditioning, alerting, fire and intrusion detection, facility management and IT server monitoring systems

More than 2150 Clients Worldwide

Core Business:

  • Development, Distribution and Services of, Technical Software (PatchPro® DCIM-AIM)“
  • Building Information Systems, “BIS”
  • Including Cable Management and IT-Network Planning & Documentation (DCIM / AIM)

Better, Faster, Cheaper Ethernet: The Road From 100G to 800G

Worldwide IP traffic has been increasing immensely in the enterprise and consumer division, driven by growing numbers of Internet users, as well as growing numbers of connected devices that provide faster wireless and fixed broadband access, high-quality video streaming and social networking capabilities.

Data centers are expanding globally to support computing, storage and content delivery services for enterprise and consumer users. With higher operation efficiency (CPU usage), higher scalability, lower costs and lower power consumption per workload, cloud data centers will process 92% of overall data center workloads by 2020; the remaining 8% of the workload will be processed by traditional data centers.

According to the Cisco Global Cloud Index 2015-2020, hyperscale data centers will grow from 259 in 2015 to 485 by 2020, representing 47% of all installed data center servers.

Cisco Global Cloud Index

Source: Cisco

Global annual data center traffic will grow from 6.5 ZB (zettabytes) in 2016 to 15.3 ZB by 2020. The majority of traffic will be generated in cloud data centers; most traffic will occur within the data center.

When it comes to supporting cloud business growth, higher performance and more competitive services for the enterprise (computing and collaboration) and consumers (video streaming and social networking), common cloud data center challenges include:

  • Cost efficiency
  • Port density
  • Power density
  • Product availability
  • Reach limit
  • Resilience (disaster recovery)
  • Sustainability
  • System scalability

This is the first in a series of seven blogs that will appear throughout the rest of 2017; in this series, we’ll walk you down the road to 800G Ethernet. Here, we take a close look at Ethernet generations and when they have (or will) come into play.

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Ethernet Switch Evolution: High Speed Interfaces

Technology development has always been driven by emerging applications: big data, Internet of Things, machine learning, public and private clouds, augmented reality, 800G Ethernet, etc.

Merchant Silicon switch ASIC chip development is an excellent example of that golden rule.


OIF’s Common Electrical Interface Development

The Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) is the standards body – a nonprofit industry organization – that develops common electrical interfaces (CEIs) for next-generation technology to ensure component and system interoperability.

The organization develops and promotes implementation agreements (IAs), offering principal design and deployment guidance for a SerDes (serializer-deserializer), including:

  • CEI-6G (which specifies the transmitter, receiver and interconnect channel associated with 6+ Gbps interfaces)
  • CEI-11G (which specifies the transmitter, receiver and interconnect channel associated with 11+ Gbps interfaces)
  • CEI-28G (which specifies the transmitter, receiver and interconnect channel associated with 28+ Gbps interfaces)
  • CEI-56G (which specifies the transmitter, receiver and interconnect channel associated with 56+ Gbps interfaces)

OIF’s CEI specifications are developed for different electrical interconnect reaches and applications to ensure system service and connectivity interoperability at the physical level:

  • USR: Ultra-short reach, for < 10 mm die to optical engine within a multi-chip module (MCM) package.
  • XSR: Extremely short reach, for < 50 mm chip to nearby optical engine (mid-board optics); or CPU to CPU/DSP arrays/memory stack with high-speed SerDes.
  • VSR: Very short reach, < 30 cm chip (e.g. switch chip) to module (edge pluggable cage, such as SFP+, QSFP+, QSFP-DD, OSFP, etc.).

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