Media conversion is a critical network function for growing data centers, but too many purchase decisions are based solely on data sheet information or worse yet, from price lists. There is a difference in media converters and a strategic way to plan and implement them. The always increasing demand on data center networks requires constant upgrades to network size, reach and throughput levels. Trends such as virtualization, big data, cloud access and mobility are key factors behind an increase in demand for data center bandwidth. In this scenario of rapid change, media conversion is more important than ever to ensure connectivity, rapid service turn up and to maximize the cable plant investment.

This seven-part blog series will provide a glimpse beyond the speeds and feeds to other key factors data center operators need to consider when adding or expanding a media conversion system.

Today's topic: Build a Consistent and Repeatable Cable Infrastructure

There’s certainly value in getting a low cost media conversion system. But when taking the longevity of the products into consideration, it’s much less costly to pay slightly more for high quality products because they will provide longer, problem-free operation and actually provide a reduced total cost of ownership. The time and money required to fix one failure can wipe out any savings initially achieved by buying the lowest price unit.

In this post, I want to explore the best practice of building a consistent and repeatable cable infrastructure.

Building out a cabling system can be a complicated and confusing undertaking, especially with the magnitude of today’s data center connectivity. It’s important to develop and facilitate a standard, repeatable and consistent infrastructure in order to deliver the best performance and manageability.

This requires balancing cost and the distance limitations of copper cabling. One solution is to implement an all-fiber network, but the expense of this can be prohibitive. It’s also somewhat restrictive as data centers must support the widest range of network types (Ethernet, and also T1, DS3, POTS, among others). Not all of these protocols define standards for transmitting data over fiber-optic cabling.

For most data centers, the right approach is to use copper where possible and leverage media conversion to introduce fiber-optic cabling where necessary. By building a structured cabling system, it becomes dramatically easier to turn up services quickly, begin billing sooner and manage the customer in a more comprehensive, consistent manner. This approach results in networks with more flexibility and scalability, allowing data center operators to cost effectively move many kinds of circuits around an entire campus, reaching long distances and across a network infrastructure, while still achieving the high level of security required.

Considering the long-term operating costs of your media converter system will help in acquiring a system that optimizes the total cost of operation (TCO). This best practice, combined with products that are designed with the right network technology, can make the correct media conversion decision a lot easier. Stay tuned for more best practices on how to build the most strategic solution.