With a veritable tsunami of new technology the likes of AI, AR, VR and Edge computing flooding today’s market, capacity demands are soaring. How do data operators go about adapting their infrastructure to both what’s now, as well as the unknown of what’s next?
There truly is an ever-increasing demand for capacity and efficient methods to provide access on demand. Regardless of the applications, there are some common network infrastructure elements that impact critical concerns like latency, redundancy, power consumption and space.
We now have multi-generation visibility to parallel fiber counts, data rates and performance requirements that we did not have a few years back. Data center operators can adapt to some degree, but from a greenfield perspective, they can plan their building blocks more efficiently now with the visibility we have.
Human beings generally fear change, particularly those operating mission critical environments. Does CommScope partake in a lot of client education in terms of the changes needed to future-proof their infrastructure?
We do, but it is a two-way street. We have direct global visibility to trends, applications and connectivity development with our industry standards participation and footprint as well as relationships with industry drivers. Our clients have their own background, experience and business models for their operations. We expand our best practice knowledge from their input. We provide tools, support and options guidance to simplify their Day 1 and Day 2 migration planning. We also work with and encourage clients to collaborate with the networking teams to optimize their shared solution.
In terms of that education, how important is the physical layer of the data center in enabling customers to quickly and cost-effectively implement changes?
The greater the need for capacity and lower latency, the more critical the physical layer is for flexibility to change. Ultra low loss singlemode or multimode performance with application-optimized fiber counts can bring a variety of efficiencies to simplify migrations. In a duplex fiber port environment, pre-terminated trunk fiber counts just need to match at both ends with planned polarity.
Today we continue to see parallel applications becoming the norm due to their ability to deliver higher data rates, but more importantly for many data centers, switch port break-outs to 4 or 8 other devices are connecting to leaf switches or directly to servers.
Fiber counts are increasing by at least a factor of 4 or 8. Planning layouts for that and utilizing mesh architectures can flatten the network and improve response time as a result, while the cabling installed can support multiple network generations.
With budget and deployment schedules shrinking, do you find that speed to market is now trumping cost in terms of priority?
I believe so. Speed to market rose in priority for data center operators during the pandemic with supply chain issues and the corresponding impact on provisioning materials and labor.
Data center architectures lend themselves to pre-terminated options. Pre-provisioning as much as possible off-site in controlled factory settings significantly improves on-site installation efficiency. There is a cost trade-off but the time to go live on site is much faster.
Let’s touch on CommScope’s fiber platform, Propel. Why ‘Propel’, what’s in a name?
Propel is about moving forward at an accelerated pace. By default it includes having a strong base. CommScope has decades of fiber experience, technology leadership and best in class portfolio. Propel built on that foundation and engineered the solution with innovative and flexible capabilities to enable next-generation options and simplify the user experience.
Why do your customers need it and what challenges does it help them to mitigate?
Traditional fiber panel options have been historically based on 12 or 24 fiber building blocks by cable construction and then terminated and patched to network electronics. With the growth of 8 and 16 fiber applications, those blocks are not aligned with the simplest needs. Array cables are needed to bridge infrastructure and application.
We cleaned the slate when designing Propel. It is a single panel platform which accommodates modules directly aligned with Ultra Low Loss MPO8, MPO12, MPO16 or MPO24 providing forward and backward compatibility to applications, enabling double LC duplex density option using SN connectivity, cable management innovations to simplify change, front & rear module installation, QR code on components to provide instant access to factory data, and packaging changes for waste reduction and sustainability. These benefits tailor the solution to their needs now and in the future.
Some might argue complex challenges require complex solutions. Are innovations around simplification/user-friendliness as important as those that improve say, speed, latency or capacity?
I’m a fan of simplicity. That said, I do not see those innovation types as mutually exclusive. Each of those considerations are critical to the user experience. Complexity should be designed in behind the scenes so that ongoing operations are easier and faster on site.
We know we can reduce latency using higher data rate, higher capacity switches with breakouts, flattening the network. The customer interface can then be simple, manageable equipment cords rather than unwieldy arrays or spaghetti cabling. That path can also provide ongoing energy benefits.
A bold statement, but would you say a fiber platform such as Propel is helping facilitate the survival of data centers in terms of future-proofing their infrastructure for whatever comes next?
Propel was designed around flexibility on-site with logical alignment of trunk cables, module sizes to match, interchangeability of all within the same panel and cable management innovations.
We accommodate all MPO options as well as supporting VSFF connections for higher density. The intent is to support multiple network generations and growth without the need to replace panels. Today we support all duplex and known parallel applications with the ability to adapt in the same panel should new needs arise.
We read that CommScope provides ‘global support’ for its customers. How is CommScope in a position to provide support at an international scale? Is this support both pre and post-sale?
CommScope has direct sales and technical resources in region around the globe as well as over 10,000 partners supporting customers in over 150 countries with pre and post sale support. We also have Technical Assistance Center support regionally. From the product perspective, we have manufacturing and distribution in region so we are able to cover customer needs globally, regionally or nationally.
Is a strong, resilient, fiber infrastructure a key component in successfully navigating the “Metaverse”, whatever that brings?
Absolutely. Providing capacity and responsiveness is critical to delivering the values we expect to see or have yet to develop. High speed distributed fiber transport is a critical foundation for that. Data centers delivering that capacity on a local level geographically will provide the necessary on and off ramps!
To find out more about CommScope's Propel solution, please visit www.commscope.com/propel.
More from CommScope
Explore what is next for data centers
The data centers’ role in the next evolution of industry
Decarbonizing building and data center connectivity with next gen solutions from CommScope