As technology continues to advance, institutions both public and private see the need for greater data capacity. From cloud computing to enhanced security, data centers offer increased diversity, fast delivery and large IP transit connections, and power some of the largest companies and cities in the country.
But they can’t do it alone. At the latest Fiber for Breakfast live video series, two expert discussed why fiber is essential in the rise of data centers.
“A data center is sort of like an airport, and without fiber going to and from the data center, it’s like an airport without airplanes,” said Peter Cohen, vice president of interconnectivity and peering at QTS Data Centers. “You really need the fiber to the data center to bring people in and out.”
There are three main types of data centers—those that service private businesses and corporations, those that service government agencies on the federal, state and local level, and those that are a combination of the two. Underneath these systems lie a system of fiber networks that enable them to compute data safely and securely.
As the pandemic has shown, cloud computing is growing ever more important. With the implementation of things like 5G networks and AI, the need for data centers will increase two-fold in the years to come.
Marc Dyman, chief revenue officer of FiberLight—a fiber infrastructure company that specializes in mission-critical networks connecting to data centers—said building dense, diverse and deep fiber networks is key to enabling data centers to run efficiently and effectively.
“These are the big drivers behind bandwidth consumption, especially coming in and out of data centers,” he said. “Everyone has had [data centers] that lived inside their environment, and now they’re pushing those into bigger data centers. Being able to have access to that reliable infrastructure so you can do things like big data and AI—those are all driving consumption.”
There’s no one way to bridge access points in and out of the data center with fiber. For some institutions, having two fiber entrances is enough to fuel capacity. For others, having multiple is essential for capacity to travel across an information super highway.
“When we look and go into a new data center, we’re going in with two different ways to get there—that’s our best practice,” Dyman said. “We’ve noticed that on the hyper scale—and with cloud systems—we’re seeing that people are using different, diverse ways to get into the data center. They’re on the upper echelon of that requirement.”
One important aspect is fiber swapping. Bundling high capacity fiber together into data centers will be important for internet service providers to add into the considerations of what their clients need and how they can accommodate them.
“You need to be really cognizant of the demands and the experiences that these companies have,” Cohen said. “They’ve been around a long time buying fiber in the data center or provisioning space in the data center, and a lot of it will come down to a KMZ file form a couple companies at once in order to satisfy their need.”
A concern for many is the cost of capital associated with these builds. Cohen said as new technologies emerge—especially things like 5G—it’s going to take time to change the underlying infrastructure. However, ISPs that are slow to adopt might find the businesses they serve can find other options that better suit their needs now.
“If there’s already six to seven companies in that data center, it’s going to be a tough sell for them to get a business case when all their potential customers already have six to seven options to choose from already,” he said. “You have to be there in order to get it. People are still actively growing and buying large data center and fiber connections to and from the center.”
Another concern with data centers is ensuring the fiber is healthy and well maintained, so in the case of any unforeseen event, these networks are not greatly impacted. Part of the appeal of a data center is the ability to store and share information securely and remotely, which means those constructing the fiber networks need to ensure the connection itself isn’t going to go down. It also means diversifying input and output connections in a data center.
At FiberLight, they’re using smart technologies to identify problems before they happen—something fiber can do more effectively over other connections.
“We can pinpoint problems ahead of time,” he said. “Looking at the signal across the fiber and monitoring for its degradation—we’re expanding that. Do not wait to the point that it fails and we have to deploy[an emergency alternative]—our systems tell us this is something that’s happening right now.”
Join us for the next Fiber for Breakfast live video series on August 12 at 10 am ET. The topic: Bandwidth Needs for Anchor Institutions,