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Data Centres and MTP (MPO) Fibre Networking: Introduction

Fibre infrastructure with MPO connectors first appears

Fibre infrastucture based on MPO* type connectors first appeared on the market during the 1990s. These early caling solutions suffered from poor optical performance and so their application was limited. During the 2000s the performance of these MPO cables was improved largely by the wide adoption of the MT ferrule and the MTP connector. Both these products were produced in the USA by US Conec and were later followed by the introduction of even higher performing ferrules such as the MT ELITE ferrule. As the demand for MPO cables increased other companies created MPO type connectors. Some of these matched the MTP ELITE connector for performance and others catered for the lower cost market.

* MPO – multi-fibre push on. A connector with more than 1 fibre termianted in the ferrule. Typically these connectors have 12 fibres, however during the last 10 years 8 fibre, 16 fibre, 24 fibre, 48 fibre and 72 fibre connectors have been developed.

Demand for fibre infrastructure with MPO type connectors increases

The demand for fibre infrastructure based on MPO type connectors really increased as companies moved to centralising and outsourcing their networks to hosting data centres. Moving networking equipment (servers / switches / storage) into a 3rd party’s environment which was designed specifically for this purpose made installation easier and more standardised. This standardisation, coupled with ever increasing data rates (increasing the need for more fibre channels) enabled the growth of modular MPO cable and MPO cassette based solutions.

The MTP connector starts to dominate the market

As demand for duplex “plug and play” fibre networking that was easy and clean to install and offered a modular approach increased, more manufacturers started to offer greater ranges. Leading the way were the large American multinationals such as Corning, Commscope and Panduit. All these companies based their data centre fibre solutions on the MTP connector as this was the most reliable in terms of over-life performance. American networking equipment manufacturers (Cisco, Brocade) also started to adopt the MT ferrule (the ferrule used in the MTP connector) in their transceivers and this added to the wider adoption of the MTP connector.

Complete Connect were one of the first UK companies to offer complete ranges of MTP based data centre fibre networking.

Data centre fibre networking demands even more MPO based infrastructure

Initially the demand for MPO based fibre networking in data centres was for duplex 1G and 10G connectivity. This was provided by modular MPO cassette/trunk/cassette solutions. MPO-LC modular cassettes connected by MPO trunk/backbone cables offered LC ports within top-of-rack 1U panels and 2U, 3U or 4U panels within distribution areas. Typically, these types of fibre networks used MPO 12 fibre connectors and 12 core cable and MPO cassette modules with either 6 x LC ports of 12 x LC ports..

Complete Connect was one of the first companies to offer an MPO cable and MPO cassette solution (our M310 Series) and this solution is still very popular, although the demand for higher LC port density resulted in the introduction of our MX Series.

This type of network is still widely adopted and continues to be in demand as end users move from towards 25G networking. However, the demand for higher data rates (40G/56G/100G) and the adoption of parallel networking (multiple pairs of fibres simultaneously transmitting) has created a new demand for MPO connector based fibre infrastructure and the subsequent developement of new fibre networking product ranges.

Adoption of MTP within Data Centre infrastructure
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Main business drivers for using MPO type fibre infrastructure

Improve operational performance within the Data Centre

With constant advancement of technology reducing the size of equipment and the ability of this equipment to use higher data rates, the uptake in fibre infrastructure increased, the demand for higher port density increased and the layout of the networks constantly shifted. This continual changes led to continual moves, adds and changes (MACs) within the network. Quickly it become evident that traditional fibre networking could not meet these challenges cost effectively or within the required timescales for change. Data centres required a better solution. MPO based networks offered this solutions. These types of solution enabled data centre managers to: –

  1. Make changes quickly
  2. Become self sufficient with making change
  3. Use 10G MPO fibre cabling to run 40G and 100G, saving time and costs.
  4. Avoid cable build-up in cabinets / pathways and spaces by reducing cabling physical space by using high density, light and small micro core cables reduced space by 65% compared to tight buffered internal cables.
  5. Increase port density using MTP ports and patching fields within distribution areas.
  6. Reduce patching rackspace requirements through the use of hydra cables, Zero U cable management
  7. Remove blocks to air circulation and hot spots- use of reduced depth panels and small cable diameters

Reduce total costs within the Data Centre

Studies have repeatedly shown that managing a fibre network within a data centre using an MPO type approach reduces overall costs. These cost savings materialise in three ways: –

  1. Total installation costs. Although an MPO type solution is more expensive in terms of like-for-like product costs compared to traditional fibre infrastructure, the installation cost is dramatically reduced which more than offsets the increase in product only costs.
  2. Re-use of products. As moves and changes occur MPO cassettes and trunks can be re-used in other locations. This rotation of product ensures products usage is maximised
  3. Reduce costs for adding new channels. Additional MPO cassettes and trunks can be added quickly and simply “on demand”. no large installation costs to incur.
  4. Use 10G trunks for 40G and 100G. MPO trunks initially installed for 1G or 10G data rates can be used for 40G and 100G channels.
Complete Connect offer an integrated data centre fibre infrastructure
Supporting all requirements upto 200G Ethernet
MPO Cassette to Casssette 1G to 10G to 25G duplex fibre networking
mpo mtp modular cassette 24 fibre
40G SR4 and 100G SR4 Ethernet. Using parallel transmission
MPO MTP M310 Series OM4 12 Fibre Patch Cord
100G SR10 LR10 Ethernet and InfiniBand fibre networking
cisco cpak sr10 compatible mpo cable
Data centres demand easier MACs:  MPO based infrastructure

The move from the traditional low-density patch panel, duplex patch cord and tight buffered fibre network to a high-density MTP cassette and trunk based cabling solution with microcore cable (65% less weight and space) enables the physical layer to be implemented in a manner that provides manageability, flexibility and scalability in the data centre.

This creates a fibre cabling backbone which can be easily reconfigured at the patch panel and where the physical cable size enable larger cable counts to be added at rack level, plus the with ease of adding extra fibre links when required so that new equipment and applications can be quickly added.

With installation reduced to simply adding a trunk cable and plugging in the MTP panels, adaptors or MTP cassettes and also with no requirement to add additional “dark” fibres at extra costs the installation time and labour costs are dramatically reduced.

Moreover, enabling these changes to be done in-house with no field-work on site ensure flexibility and cleanliness are maintained with the installation. Overall, deploying a modular, high-density MTP-based fibre cabling solution will increase speed of change with moves, adds and changes (MACs).

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Summary of the benefits from MPO fibre infrastructure
  1. REDUCES overall network costs
  2. IMPROVES speed of change
  3. MODULAR “build on demand” matches needs to expansion
  4. BETTER port mapping from the Main Distribution Area to the SAN Director reducing design and installation time.
  5. REDUCE rackspace requirements. MPO Assemblies such as hybrid trunks / harnesses connect directly to the high-density MTP backbone cabling infrastructure
  6. FULL INTEGRATION of the backbone MPO cable assemblies into the cabinet providing a streamlined approach to deploying trunk cabling.
  7. REDUCTION in physical cable size in the cabinet and SAN Director back plane of over 70% compared to traditional cabling methods
  8. HIGH DATA RATES increases the life cycle of the cabling infrastructure by providing headroom to handle higher-data-rate applications such as 8 to 128 Gigabit Fibre Channel and 1 to 100 Gigabit Ethernet.
  9. ENABLES the transmission of serial and parallel signals. Parallel optic technologies such as InfiniBand and emerging 40GbE and 100GbE only operate over the base MPO trunk infrastructure.
6 Great Reasons Why People Choose Compete Connect

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