Data Centers

Data Center Solutions: Why One Size Will Never Fit All

Denis Blouin
There are two rules to remember when choosing data center solutions: what works for some may not work for others, and just because it’s a trend doesn’t mean you need it!  


A decade or two ago, “one size fits all” was an attention-grabber: No matter what product or solution you chose, it was designed to conform to you. While this philosophy started in the clothing world, it took hold in almost every industry—even in the world of data centers.


We like to compare it to the story of Goldilocks. If you believe in a one-size-fits-all approach, then there are three possible outcomes: the bed is too big, the bed is too small or the bed is just right. The likelihood of a solution aligning perfectly with your requirements is against you.


Today, it’s clear: No single data center solution works in every situation.


Whether it’s an edge data center supporting quick data delivery with minimal latency, an enterprise data center privately controlled by a business, or a colocation data center with hundreds of thousands of square feet dedicated to serving tenants, every data center has its own requirements and supports a unique mix of technology and applications.


Data Center differences abound within industries and organizations

Within industries, data centers face their own challenges in terms of power, computing and capacity. Innovations like video streaming, IoT, big data and artificial intelligence have quickly rewritten the playbook on how data is generated and used—and how data centers support it. There are now very few tasks that don’t rely on a data center.


Even within organizations themselves, data center needs vary. Consider a single manufacturer or corporation with locations across a country. Needs can vary greatly from one site to another.


For example, different machinery and equipment rely on different communication protocols that must be translated and coordinated across sites.


Some locations may use specialized applications or have specific requirements that their counterparts don’t. An established financial institution likely has on-premises data centers in some of its offices for mission-critical applications like trading floors. Some of these on-premises data centers may be legacy facilities while others may be new. They may also rely on colocation facilities around the world.


There’s no single data center solution that will magically address every concern and support every goal.


What are you trying to accomplish? What are the problems you want to solve? What hiccups will you encounter? You must know the answers to these questions before you can find the right data center solution. There will always be costs, benefits, features and limitations to consider that are unique to your applications, requirements and environment.


What works for some may not work for others

Historically, and depending on your orientation, data centers are built from the top down, bottom up and left to right. (If you assume a north-south orientation, for example, then a data center is typically built north to south.)


This standard practice was followed diligently by one of our customers. The main distribution row was located at the front of the data center, and they kept building “down.” But not all data center designs transfer well from location to location.


As new applications and technologies called for more bandwidth and higher speeds, this approach created problems with cable lengths. They had to create a new plan to start from the middle of the data center and work their way out.


Eventually, some data centers began to transition to pods. They still deploy some data centers rows, but standalone pods, or pod concepts, are becoming the norm. To accommodate this, their optical distribution frames are turned sideways and placed at the end of the row to save cabinet space and ensure more efficient use of resources.


Just because it’s a trend doesn’t mean you need it

Don’t invest in a data center solution just because it sounds good or is a trend.


Consider automated infrastructure management (AIM) technology. It tells you that X is plugged into Y, A is plugged into B, and E is plugged into F. Is that information you need to know? Yes, but if it’s working, then you don’t have a problem. If, however, you mix up those connections and your AIM system can’t help you troubleshoot, then it isn’t helping you when you need it most.


If you’re completing lots of moves, adds and changes, then this information may be worthwhile. It may also be valuable in unmanned data centers. But not every data center will benefit from this solution.


Consider a super-max prison that wanted to invest in an automated infrastructure management system to track patches. In this case, prison staff were concerned about a prisoner gaining access to the telecom room or data center and repatching things. If a prisoner is in your telecom space, then you already have a problem that an AIM system isn’t equipped to help with.


Staff wanted to track when patches were being moved in real-time. While this is a valid concern, of course, AIM wasn’t the best way to manage the concern. By taking other steps first, the staff would see indicators of trouble long before a prisoner gained access to the data center. For example, putting security parameters in place that allowed staff to prevent prisoners from being able to access the data center to repatch was a more cost-effective and practical approach.


Get the data center solutions you need

Belden offers thousands of configurable solutions for virtually any project’s data center transmission needs.


Our in-house experts are always available to work collaboratively alongside your team to learn about your business, understand your processes and help you find solutions that adapt to your specific, mission-critical requirements.


That’s why we’re here: to help you plan for potential challenges and consider different solutions. 



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