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A data center’s layout is just as important as the type of fiber cable or intelligent software inside it. The whole infrastructure and server connectivity hinges on the design. Three factors should be considered when putting everything together:

  • The size of the data center
  • Anticipated growth
  • Whether it’s new installation or an upgrade to a legacy system

There are three main designs to choose from, yet there’s no one-size-fits-all. Each design has its pros and cons.

 

Centralized_DesignsCentralized Design

Most appropriate for smaller data centers, a centralized design has separate LAN/SAN environments with home run cabling to each of the server cabinets and zones.

PROS

  • Efficient use of switch  port
  • Easier to manage and add components

CONS

  •  Difficult to support expansion
  • Extended cable length can cause congestion in pathways, increasing cost (particularly for larger data centers)

 

Zoned_DesignZoned Design

In this design, switches can be distributed in an end-of-row (EoR) or middle-of-row (MoR) location.

PROS

  • Recommended by the ANSI/TIA-942 Data Center Standards
  • Scalable, repeatable, predictable
  • Cost-effective

CONS

  •  The need to run cable back to an EoR/MoR switch

 

Top_of_RackTop-of-Rack Design

This design consists of two or more switches in each server cabinet, placed at the top of the rack.

PROS

  • Good for dense, one-rack unit server environments
  • Simplifies cable management
  • Fast port-to-port switching for servers within the rack

CONS

  • Increase in cost of switches and licenses
  • Underutilized switch ports
  • Difficult to manage in large deployments
  • Potential for overheating

Even with these three architectures, there are still decisions to be made as to methods used for connecting all of the electronics in the main and horizontal distribution area: cross connect or interconnect. You can find out which technique CommScope recommends by downloading our eBook, The Connected and Efficient Data Center. Learn tips and gain insight to help demystify the technology and untangle the complexities. 

About the Author

Hans-Jürgen Niethammer

Hans-Jürgen Niethammer is a leading authority on data centre and central office architectures. As a member of several German, European and International standards organizations, Hans-Jürgen provides valuable guidance to global networking industries in date centre design, fibre-optic infrastructure and automated infrastructure management, among other fields. Hans-Jürgen has been an important part of CommScope for 23 years, and is currently responsible for EMEA market development. His specializations are designing concepts and developing solutions for wireless service providers, helping them overcome today’s challenges and anticipating tomorrow’s.

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Comments

1 comment for " Pros and Cons of Different Data Center Architectures"
John Kacperski Tuesday, September 20, 2016 4:47 PM

I am not sure from reading this if it's a cable distribution or a network switch distribution, so that is the first part of architecture question. If it's cabling are properly identifying the MDA? If it's switch are you addressing throughput? Very interesting, please let me know if you would like to discuss?

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