The Internet is where we store and receive a huge amount of information. Where is all the information stored? The answer is data centers. At its simplest, a data center is a dedicated place that organizations use to house their critical applications and data. Here is a short look into the basics of data centers. You will get to know the data center layout, the data pathway, and common types of data centers.
Optical fiber cables have become one of the key points in the 5G competition. It’s known that 5G networks will offer consumers high-speed and low-latency services with more reliable and stronger connections. But to make this happen, more 5G base stations have to be built due to the higher 5G frequency band and limited network coverage. And it’s estimated that by 2025, the total number of global 5G base stations will reach 6.5 million, which puts forward higher requirements for the optical fiber cable performance and production.
Currently, there are still some uncertainties in 5G network architectures and the selection of technical solutions. But in the basic physical layer, the 5G fiber cables should meet both current application and future development needs. The following are five types of optical fiber cables that address problems in 5G networks built to some degree.
1. Bend Insensitive Optical Fiber for Easy 5G Indoor Micro Base Stations
The dense fiber connections between massive 5G new macro base stations and indoor micro base stations are the main challenge in the 5G access network constructions. The complex cabling environments, especially the indoor fiber cabling, and the limited space and bend request high requirements for the fiber bend performance. Optical fiber compliant ITU G.657.A2/B2/B3 has great bend-improved performance, which can be stapled and bent around corners without sacrificing performance.
Note: The induced attenuation is caused due to fiber wrapped around a mandrel of a specific radius.
2. OM5 Multimode Fiber Applied to 5G Core Networks
5G service providers also have to focus on the fiber optic network build of the data centers where the content is stored. At present, the transmission speed of data centers is evolving from 10G/25G, 40G/I00G to 25G/I00G, 200G/400G, which put forward new requirements for the multimode optical fibers used for interconnection inside the data centers. Multimode optical fibers need to compatible with the existing Ethernet standard, cover the future upgrades to higher speed like 400G and 800G, support multi-wavelength multiplexing technologies like SWDM and BiDi, and also need to provide excellent bending resistance to adjust to dense data centers cabling scenarios.
Figure 1: OM5 fiber in 100G BiDi and 100G SWDM applications
Under such conditions, the new broadband OM5 multimode fiber becomes the hotspot option for data center constructions. OM5 fiber allows multiple wavelengths to be transmitted simultaneously in the vicinity of 850 nm to 950 nm. By adopting the PAM4 modulation and WDM technology, OM5 optical fiber is able to support 150 meters in 100Gb/s, 200Gb/s, and 400Gb/s transmission systems, and ensure the ability of future short-distance and high-speed transmission networks, making it the optimal choice for intra-data center connections under the 5G environment.
Here is a comparison of the link length of OM5 and other multimode fiber over 850nm wavelength.
Link Length (M) @850nm wavelength
3. Micron Diameter Optical Fibers Enable Higher Fiber Density
Due to the complex deployment environments of the access layer or aggregation layer of 5G bearer networks, it’s easy to encounter problems like the limited existing cable pipeline resources. To ensure the limited space can hold more optical fibers, cable manufacturers are working hard to reduce the size and diameter of cable bundles. For example, recently the Prysmian Group has introduced the BendBright XS 180µm single-mode fiber to meet the 5G technology demands. This innovative optical fiber enables cable designers to offer strongly reduced cable dimensions while still keeping the 125µm glass diameter.
Figure 2: Prysmian’s BendBright XS 180µm fiber
Similarly, with the same principles, Corning has introduced the SMF-28 Ultra 200 fiber that allows fiber cable manufacturers to shave 45 microns off previous cable coating thicknesses, going from 245 microns down to 200 microns, to achieve a smaller overall outer diameter. And YOFC, another optical fiber manufacturer, also provides EasyBand plus-Mini 200μm reduced diameter bending insensitive fiber for 5G networks, which can reduce the cable diameter by 50% and significantly increase the fiber density in pipelines when compared with common optical fibers.
4. ULL Fiber with Large Effective Area Can Extend 5G Link Length
5G fiber manufacturers are actively exploring ultra low-loss (ULL) optical fiber technologies to extend the fiber reach as long as possible. The G.654.E optical fiber is such a type of innovative 5G fiber. Different from the common G.652.D fiber often used in 10G, 25G, and 100G, the G.652.E fiber comes with a larger effective area and ultra-low loss features, which can significantly reduce the nonlinear effect of optical fiber and improve the OSNR that are easily affected by higher signal modulation format in 200G and 400G connections.
Maximum Capacity (Tbs)
Limit Relay Distance (km)
Typical Link Attenuation (dB/km)
Fiber Effective Area (µm²)
With the continuous increase of the transmission speed and capacity of the 5G core network and the clouded data center, fiber optic cables like this will be needed more. It’s said that the latest Corning’s TXF fiber, a type of G.654.E fiber, comes with high-data-rate capabilities and exceptional reach, able to help network operators deal with growing bandwidth demands while lowering their overall network costs. Recently, Infinera and Corning have achieved 800G across 800km using this TXF fiber, which shows this fiber is expected to offer excellent long-haul transmission solutions for 5G network deployment.
5. Optical Fiber Cable for Faster 5G Network Installation
5G network deployment covers both indoor and outdoor scenarios, the installation speed is a factor needed to consider. Full-dry optical cable using dry water-blocking technology is able to improve fiber splicing speed during cable installation. Air-blown micro cables are compact and lightweight and contain high fiber density to maximize the fiber count. This type of cable is easy to be installed in longer ducts with multiple bends and undulations, and it can save in manpower & installation time and improved installation efficiency via the blowing installation methods. For the outdoor fiber cable deployment, some anti-rodent and anti-bird optical cables also need to be used.
Get Ready for 5G Networks
Currently, optical fiber is the optimal medium capable of scaling to the 5G demands. 5G networks’ enhanced bandwidth capacity, lower latency requirements and complicated outdoor deployments bring challenges as well as unlimited possibilities for optical fiber manufacturers, but our optical networks must quickly adapt to meet such new demands. Except for the optical fiber mentioned above, it remains to be seen if the 5G fiber manufacturers will put forward other innovative fiber for the market as quickly as possible.
When it comes to data center design, location is a crucial aspect that no business can overlook. Where your data center is located matters a lot more than you might realize. In this article, we will walk you through the importance of data center location and factors you should keep in mind when choosing one.
The Importance of Data Center Location
Though data centers can be located anywhere with power and connectivity, the site selection can have a great impact on a wide range of aspects such as business uptime and cost control. Overall, a good data center location can better secure your data center and extend the life of data centers. Specifically, it means lower TCO, faster internet speed, higher productivity, and so on. Here we will discuss two typical aspects that are the major concerns of businesses.
Data centers have extremely high security requirements, and once problems occur, normal operation will be affected. Of course, security and reliability can be improved by various means, such as building redundant systems, etc. However, reasonable planning of the physical location of a data center can also effectively avoid harm caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, fires and so on. If a data center is located in a risk zone that is prone to natural disasters, that would lead to longer downtime and more potential damages to infrastructure.
Higher speed and better performance
Where your data center is located can also affect your website’s speed and business performance. When a user visits a page on your website, their computer has to communicate with servers in your data center to access data or information they need. That data is then transferred from servers to their computer. If your data center is located far away from your users who initiate certain requests, information and data will have to travel longer distances. That will be a lengthy process for your users who could probably get frustrated with slow speeds and latency. The result is lost users leaving your site with no plans to come back. In a sense, a good location can make high speed and impressive business performance possible.
Choosing a Data Center Location — Key Factors
Choosing where to locate your data center requires balancing many different priorities. Here are some major considerations to help you get started.
First and foremost, the decision has to be made based on your business needs and market demands. Where are your users? Is the market promising in the location you are considering? You should always build your data center as close as possible to users you serve. It can shorten the time for users to obtain files and data and make for happy customers. For smaller companies that only operate in a specific region or country, it’s best to choose a nearby data center location. For companies that have much more complicated businesses, they may want to consider more locations or resort to third-party providers for more informed decisions.
Damages and losses caused by natural disasters are not something any data center can afford. These include big weather and geographical events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, lightning and thunder, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, blizzards, hail, fires, and landslides. If your data center is in a risk zone, it is almost a matter of time before it falls victim to one. Conversely, a good location less susceptible to various disasters means a higher possibility of less downtime and better operation.
It is also necessary to analyze the climatic conditions of a data center location in order to select the most suitable cooling measures, thus reducing the TCO of running a data center. At the same time, you might want to set up a disaster recovery site that is far enough from the main site, so that it is almost impossible for any natural disaster to affect them at the same time.
The nature of data centers and requirements for quality and capacity determine that the power supply in a data center must be sufficient and stable. As power is the biggest cost of operating a data center, it is very important to choose a place where electricity is relatively cheap.
The factors we need to consider include:
Availability — You have to know the local power supply situation. At the same time, you need to check whether there are multiple mature power grids in alternative locations.
Cost — As we’ve mentioned, power costs a lot. So it is necessary to compare various power costs. That is to say, the amount of power should be viable and the cost of it should be low enough.
Alternative energy sources — You might also want to consider whether there are renewable energy sources such as solar energy, wind energy and air in alternative locations, which will help enterprises to build a greener corporate image.
It is necessary to make clear the local power supply reliability, electricity price, and policies concerning the trend of the power supply and market demand in the next few years.
There are a number of additional factors to consider. These include local data protection laws, tax structures, land policy, availability of suitable networking solutions, local infrastructure, the accessibility of a skilled labor pool, and other aspects. All these things combined can have a great impact on the TCO of your data center and your business performance. This means you will have to do enough research before making an informed decision.
There is no one right answer for the best place to build a data center. A lot of factors come into play, and you may have to weigh different priorities. But one thing is for sure: A good data center location is crucial to data center success.
In August 2021, the US Senate passed the Infrastructure Bill to revamp the dated setup responsible for latency issues and low connectivity in underserved rural communities. The bill’s passing has led to great excitement amongst various sectors, chief amongst them being the telecom industry. Here’s an overview of how the Infrastructure Bill will affect the fiber optics and Data Center sectors.
What is the Infrastructure Bill and what does it entail?
The recently approved Infrastructure Bill is set to make considerable headway in bridging the great digital divide: a decade-long problem afflicting some 40 million Americans. The Senate-passed bill of $1.2 trillion hopes to improve the aging American Infrastructure and boost various sectors via increased funding and jobs. $65 billion from this grant is exclusively allocated for enhanced internet experiences in underprivileged regions.
Low bandwidth internet has been creating a great digital divide in various American states for a long time. Communities on the underprivileged side of this divide have suffered from maladjustment in the new virtual norm. Poor connectivity for these communities has meant inefficiency in carrying out routine tasks, failure in maintaining uninterrupted workflows, and severed communications. Digital solutions that have become part and parcel of many Americans, such as e-learning, telehealth, etc., are still somewhat of an anomaly for these regions.
America needs a rejuvenated infrastructure that enables these communities with a secure, high-quality, and super-fast connection.
The bill’s passage is said to remove these barriers in the underserved regions. However, this will also call for a joint deliverance from all parties involved, including government bodies, the telecommunications industry, and the fiber optics/ data center sectors. These are major sectors poised to help America close the great digital divide and successfully make the virtual shift.
How will this bill affect the fiber optics and data center sector?
One of the major components of this project is the expansion of the internet infrastructure. This, along with effectively and efficiently building out in remote regions while eliminating inconsistent right-of-way rules, will result in adequate and speedy connections. There are many other complexities involved, but what the underprivileged communities, such as the Midwest, need most are 5G wireless services and robust fiber deployment.
Telecommunications and Data Center industries have always found infrastructure expansion difficult in places such as the Midwest due to natural physical barriers. These include the largely uneven landscape of mountains, roughly-cleared forests, and expanses of water. All of these have led to poor internet connections in these regions. Introducing the 5G wireless service can be a great way to overcome the handicaps of nature. But setting up these services would require vigorous fiber optic cable deployments and construction of powerful data centers.
The fiber optics sector is the chief component against which the entire digital network is buttressed. This is the network of speedy internet and empowered consumers who are facilitated 24/7 with high-quality, uninterrupted connections and modern digital services.
Modern digital services rely heavily on network densification and evolving technologies such as the blockchain, AI, and the IoT. Fiber optics is responsible for supporting most of these modernized services. Network densification is an efficient way to increase network capacity without requiring more rack space, but this also means constructing a large number of data centers in these areas.
To make the 5G technology work, the fiber optics industry will have to build data centers and cell towers in close proximity to eliminate latency problems through agile deployment. This 5G wireless fiber-based network of data centers will provide these remote regions with the resiliency and scaling needed to maintain critical speeds and higher bandwidths.
This kind of networking will also require all stakeholders, network enterprises, and local government bodies to work together and ensure that all populations can derive massive benefits from the revamped Infrastructure.
The federal government has already taken various initiatives to maximize funding for quicker broadband infrastructure deployment and more can be added to the allocated amount in the coming years. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance reported on the number of measures taken by the government to improve the digital literacy efforts and bring together pockets of communities via a compact digital resource network. As these state and federal-backed initiatives help overcome problems of connectivity caused by physical barriers, underserved populations will finally access reliable connectivity.
Some potential pitfalls to watch out for with the Infrastructure Bill
While there is a great buzz surrounding the opportunities and innovations stemming from the bill’s passing, there are some potential pitfalls that both governments and industry enterprises must look out for.
The prospect of billions in federal grants means that multiple telecommunication and fiber optics enterprises will be vying for the funds. If too many telecoms in one region get access to the federal grant, the result could be an overbuilding of the digital infrastructure. This may put an excessive burden on the electrical energy sector and cause other environmental hazards.
It is also feared that the grant will keep new tech companies at bay by providing already established tech enterprises access to rural areas. The result could be a stifling of innovations in broadband internet technology.
The future of fiber optics and datacenter sector post-Infrastructure Bill
The 5G fiber technology offers the fastest internet connectivity helping businesses set greater targets and achieve better results. With the release of grants from the federal government, the industry will undoubtedly expand to accommodate the growing need for innovative solutions.
According to one study, the fiber industry will grow at 8.5% in the coming years. By 2025, the fiber optics sector is estimated to become a seven billion-dollar industry.
Numerous cities plan for a fiber-based internet network to create what Wired news calls the “internet utopia”. An ambitious network provider has already planned for an 8000-mile long submarine underwater fiber optic cable connecting Los Angeles and Hong Kong to support the increasing demand for Google and Facebook.
There is a great buzz surrounding the expansion of the 5G wireless network and what it means for the great virtual shift in the country. It will not be long before we begin seeing the role of fiber optics and data centers in newer, modern, and diversified digital applications and devices accessible by all.
The rise of the digital economy has promoted the rapid and vigorous development of industries like cloud computing, Internet of Things, and big data, which have put forward higher requirements for data centers. The drawbacks of traditional data centers have emerged gradually, which are increasingly unable to meet the needs of the market. The prefabricated containerized data center meets the current market demand and will usher in a period of rapid development.
What Is a Containerized Data Center?
A containerized data center comes equipped with data center infrastructures housed in a container. There are different types of containerized data centers, ranging from simple IT containers to comprehensive all-in-one systems integrating the entire physical IT infrastructure.
Generally, a containerized data center includes networking equipment, servers, cooling system, UPS, cable pathways, storage devices, lighting and physical security systems.
Pros of Containerized Data Centers
Portability & Durability
Containerized data centers are fabricated in a manufacturing facility and shipped to the end-user in containers. Due to the container appearance, they are flexible to move and cost-saving compared to traditional data centers. What’s more, containers are dustproof, waterproof, and shock-resistant, making containerized data centers suitable for various harsh environments.
Unlike traditional data centers with limited flexibility and difficult management, containerized data centers are prefabricated and pretested at the factory, and are transported to the deployment site for direct set-up. With access to utility power, network and water, the data center can work well. Therefore, the on-site deployment period for containerized data centers is substantially shortened to 2~3 months, demonstrating rapid and flexible deployment.
Containerized data centers are designed for energy efficiency, which effectively limits ongoing operational costs. They enable power and cooling systems to match capacity and workload well, improving work efficiency and reducing over-configuration. More specifically, containerized data centers adopt in-row cooling systems to deliver air to adjacent hotspots with strict airflow management, which greatly improves cold air utilization, saves space and electricity costs in the server room, and reduces power usage efficiency (PUE).
Because of its unique modular design, a containerized data center is easy to install and scale up. More data centers can be added to the modular architecture of containerized data centers according to the requirements to optimize the IT configuration in a data center. With high scalability, containerized data centers can meet the changing demands of the organization rapidly and effortlessly.
Cons of Containerized Data Centers
Limited Computing Performance: Although it contains the entire IT infrastructure, a containerized data center still lacks the same computing capability as a traditional data center.
Low Security: Isolated containerized data centers are more vulnerable to break-ins than data center buildings. And without numerous built-in redundancies, an entire containerized data center can be shut down by a single point of failure.
Lack of Availability: It is challenging and expensive to provide utilities and networks for containerized data centers placed in edge areas.
Despite some shortcomings, containerized data centers have obvious advantages over traditional data centers. From the perspective of both current short-term investment and future long-term operating costs, containerized data centers have become the future trend of data center construction at this stage.
Over the years, the Internet of Things and IoT devices have grown tremendously, effectively boosting productivity and accelerating network agility. This technology has also elevated the adoption of edge computing while ushering in a set of advanced edge devices. By adopting edge computing, computational needs are efficiently met since the computing resources are distributed along the communication path, i.e., via a decentralized computing infrastructure.
One of the benefits of edge computing is improved performance as analytics capabilities are brought closer to the machine. An edge data center also reduces operational costs, thanks to the reduced bandwidth requirement and low latency.
Below, we’ve explored more about 5G wireless systems and multi-access edge computing (MEC), an advanced form of edge computing, and how both extend cloud computing benefits to the edge and closer to the users. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Multi-Access Edge Computing
Multi-access edge computing (MEC) is a relatively new technology that offers cloud computing capabilities at the network’s edge. This technology works by moving some computing capabilities out of the cloud and closer to the end devices. Hence data doesn’t travel as far, resulting in fast processing speeds.
Ideally, there are two types of MEC, dedicated MEC and distributed MEC. Dedicated MEC is typically deployed at the customer’s site on a mobile private network and is designed only for one business. On the other hand, distributed MEC is deployed on a public network, either 4G or 5G, and connects shared assets and resources.
With both the dedicated and distributed MEC, applications run locally, and data is processed in real or near real-time. This helps avoid latency issues for faster response rates and decision-making. MEC technology has seen wider adoption in video analytics, augmented reality, location services, data caching, local content distribution, etc.
How MEC and 5G are Changing Different Industries
At the heart of multi-access edge computing are wireless and radio access network technologies that open up different networks to a wide range of innovative services. Today, 5G technology is the ultimate network that supports ultra-reliable low latency communication. It also provides an enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) capability for use cases involving significant data rates such as virtual reality and augmented reality.
That said, 5G use cases can be categorized into three domains, massive IoT, mission-critical IoT, and enhanced mobile broadband. Each of the three categories requires different network features regarding security, mobility, bandwidth, policy control, latency, and reliability.
Why MEC Adoption Is on the Rise
5G MEC adoption is growing exponentially, and there are several reasons why this is the case. One reason is that this technology aligns with the distributed and scalable nature of the cloud, making it a key driver of technical transformation. Similarly, MEC technology is a critical business transformation change agent that offers the opportunity to improve service delivery and even support new market verticals.
Among the top use cases driving the high level of 5G, MEC implementation includes video content delivery, the emergence of smart cities, smart utilities (e.g., water and power grids), and connected cars. This also showcases the significant role MEC plays in different IoT domains. Here’s a quick overview of the primary use cases:
Autonomous vehicles – 5G MEC can help enhance operational functions such as continuous sensing and real-time traffic monitoring. This reduces latency issues and increases bandwidth.
Smart homes – MEC technology can process data locally, boosting privacy and security. It also reduces communication latency and allows for fast mobility and relocation.
AR/VR – Moving computational capabilities and processes to edge amplifies the immersive experience to users, plus it extends the battery-life of AR/VR devices.
Smart energy – MEC resolves traffic congestion issues and delays due to huge data generation and intermittent connectivity. It also reduces cyber-attacks by enforcing security mechanisms closer to the edge.
Getting Started With 5G MEC
One of the key benefits of adopting 5G MEC technology is openness, particularly API openness and the option to integrate third-party apps. Standards compliance and application agility are the other value propositions of multi-access edge computing. Therefore, enterprises looking to benefit from a flexible and open cloud should base their integration on the key competencies they want to achieve.
One of the challenges common during the integration process is hardware platforms’ limitations, as far as scale and openness are concerned. Similarly, deploying 5G MEC technology is costly, especially for small-scale businesses with limited financial backing. Other implementation issues include ecosystem and standards immaturity, software limitations, culture, and technical skillset challenges.
To successfully deploy multi-access edge computing, you need an effective 5G MEC implementation strategy that’s true and tested. You should also consider partnering with an expert IT or edge computing company for professional guidance.
5G MEC Technology: Key Takeaways
Edge-driven transformation is a game-changer in the modern business world, and 5G multi-access edge computing technology is undoubtedly leading the cause. Enterprises that embrace this new technology in their business models benefit from streamlined operations, reduced costs, and enhanced customer experience.
Even then, MEC integration isn’t without its challenges. Companies looking to deploy multi-access edge computing technology should have a solid implementation strategy that aligns with their entire digital transformation agenda to avoid silos.
Over the last decade, developments in cloud computing and an increased demand for flexible IT solutions have led to new technologies that literally transform the traditional data center. Many businesses have moved from physical on-site data centers to virtualized data center solutions as server virtualization has become a common practice.
What Is Data Center Virtualization and How Does it Work?
Data center virtualization is the transfer of physical data centers into digital data centers using a cloud software platform, so that companies can remotely access information and applications.
In a virtualized data center, a virtual server, also called a software-defined data center (SDDC) is created from traditional, physical servers. This process abstracts physical hardware by imitating its processors, operating system, and other resources with help from a hypervisor. A hypervisor (or virtual machine monitor, VMM, virtualizer) is a software that creates and manages a virtual machine. It treats resources such as CPU, memory, and storage as a pool that can be easily reallocated between existing virtual machines or to new ones.
Benefits of Data Center Virtualization
Data center virtualization offers a range of strategic and technological benefits to businesses looking for increased profitability or greater scalability. Here we’ll discuss some of these benefits.
Compared to physical servers, which require extensive and sometimes expensive sourcing and time management, virtual data centers are relatively simpler, quicker, and more economical to set up. Any company that experiences high levels of growth might want to consider implementing a virtualized data center.
It’s also a good fit for companies experiencing seasonal increases in business activity. During peak times, virtualized memory, processing power, and storage can be added at a lesser cost and in a faster timeframe than purchasing and installing components on a physical machine. Likewise, when demand slows, virtual resources can be scaled down to remove unnecessary expenses. All of these are not possible with metal servers.
Before virtualization, everything from common tasks and daily interactions to in-depth analytics and data storage happened at the server level, meaning they could only be accessed from one location. With a strong enough Internet connection, virtualized resources can be accessed when and where they are needed. For example, employees can access data, applications, and services from remote locations, greatly improving productivity outside the office.
Moreover, with help of cloud-based applications such as video conferencing, word processing, and other content creation tools, virtualized servers make versatile collaboration possible and create more sharing opportunities.
Typically outsourced to third-party providers, physical servers are always associated with high management and maintenance. But they will not be a problem in a virtual data center. Unlike their physical counterparts, virtual servers are often offered as pay-as-you-go subscriptions, meaning companies only pay for what they use. By contrast, whether physical servers are used or not, companies still have to shoulder the costs for their management and maintenance. As a plus, the additional functionality that virtualized data centers offer can reduce other business expenses like travel costs.
Cloud vs. Virtualization: How Are They Related?
It’s easy to confuse virtualization with cloud. However, they are quite different but also closely related. To put it simply, virtualization is a technology used to create multiple simulated environments or dedicated resources from a physical hardware system, while cloud is an environment where scalable resources are abstracted and shared across a network.
Clouds are usually created to enable cloud computing, a set of principles and approaches to deliver compute, network, and storage infrastructure resources, platforms, and applications to users on-demand across any network. Cloud computing allows different departments (through private cloud) or companies (through a public cloud) to access a single pool of automatically provisioned resources, while virtualization can make one resource act like many.
In most cases, virtualization and cloud work together to provide different types of services. Virtualized data center platforms can be managed from a central physical location (private cloud) or a remote third-party location (public cloud), or any combination of both (hybrid cloud). On-site virtualized servers are deployed, managed, and protected by private or in-house teams. Alternatively, third-party virtualized servers are operated in remote data centers by a service provider who offers cloud solutions to many different companies.
If you already have a virtual infrastructure, to create a cloud, you can pool virtual resources together, orchestrate them using management and automation software, and create a self-service portal for users.
As the need for data storage drives the growth of data centers, colocation facilities are increasingly important to enterprises. A colocation data center brings many advantages to an enterprise data center, such as carriers helping enterprises manage their IT infrastructure that reduces the cost for management. There are two types of hosting carriers: carrier-neutral and carrier-specific. In this article, we will discuss the differentiation of them.
Carrier Neutral and Carrier Specific Data Center: What Are They?
Accompanied by the accelerated growth of the Internet, the exponential growth of data has led to a surge in the number of data centers to meet the needs of companies of all sizes and market segments. Two types of carriers that offer managed services have emerged on the market.
Carrier-neutral data centers allow access and interconnection of multiple different carriers while the carriers can find solutions that meet the specific needs of an enterprise’s business. Carrier-specific data centers, however, are monolithic, supporting only one carrier that controls all access to corporate data. At present, most enterprises choose carrier-neutral data centers to support their business development and avoid some unplanned accidents.
There is an example, in 2021, about 1/3 of the cloud infrastructure in AWS was overwhelmed and down for 9 hours. This not only affected millions of websites, but also countless other devices running on AWS. A week later, AWS was down again for about an hour, bringing down the Playstation network, Zoom, and Salesforce, among others. The third downtime of AWS also impacted Internet giants such as Slack, Asana, Hulu, and Imgur to a certain extent. 3 outages of cloud infrastructure in one month took a beyond measure cost to AWS, which also proved the fragility of cloud dependence.
In the above example, we can know that the management of the data center by the enterprise will affect the business development due to some unplanned accidents, which is a huge loss for the enterprise. To lower the risks caused by using a single carrier, enterprises need to choose a carrier-neutral data center and adjust the system architecture to protect their data center.
Why Should Enterprises Choose Carrier Neutral Data Center?
Carrier-neutral data centers are data centers operated by third-party colocation providers, but these third parties are rarely involved in providing Internet access services. Hence, the existence of carrier-neutral data centers enhances the diversity of market competition and provides enterprises with more beneficial options.
Another colocation advantage of a carrier-neutral data center is the ability to change internet providers as needed, saving the labor cost of physically moving servers elsewhere. We have summarized several main advantages of a carrier-neutral data center as follows.
A carrier-neutral colocation data center is independent of the network operators and not owned by a single ISP. Out of this advantage, it offers enterprises multiple connectivity options, creating a fully redundant infrastructure. If one of the carriers loses power, the carrier-neutral data center can instantly switch servers to another online carrier. This ensures that the entire infrastructure is running and always online. On the network connection, a cross-connect is used to connect the ISP or telecom company directly to the customer’s sub-server to obtain bandwidth from the source. This can effectively avoid network switching to increase additional delay and ensure network performance.
Options and Flexibility
Flexibility is a key factor and advantage for carrier-neutral data center providers. For one thing, the carrier neutral model can increase or decrease the network transmission capacity through the operation of network transmission. And as the business continues to grow, enterprises need colocation data center providers that can provide scalability and flexibility. For another thing, carrier-neutral facilities can provide additional benefits to their customers, such as offering enterprise DR options, interconnect, and MSP services. Whether your business is large or small, a carrier-neutral data center provider may be the best choice for you.
First, colocation data center solutions can provide a high level of control and scalability, expanding opportunity to storage, which can support business growth and save some expenses. Additionally, it also lowers physical transport costs for enterprises. Second, with all operators in the market competing for the best price and maximum connectivity, a net neutral data center has a cost advantage over a single network facility. What’s more, since freedom of use to any carrier in a carrier-neutral data center, enterprises can choose the best cost-benefit ratio for their needs.
Carrier-neutral data centers also boast reliability. One of the most important aspects of a data center is the ability to have 100% uptime. Carrier-neutral data center providers can provide users with ISP redundancy that a carrier-specific data center cannot. Having multiple ISPs at the same time gives better security for all clients. Even if one carrier fails, another carrier may keep the system running. At the same time, the data center service provider provides 24/7 security including all the details and uses advanced technology to ensure the security of login access at all access points to ensure that customer data is safe. Also, the multi-layered protection of the physical security cabinet ensures the safety of data transmission.
While many enterprises need to determine the best option for their company’s specific business needs, by comparing both carrier-neutral and carrier-specific, choosing a network carrier neutral data center service provider is a better option for today’s cloud-based business customers. Several advantages, such as maximizing total cost, lower network latency, and better network coverage, are of working with a carrier-neutral managed service provider. With no downtime and constant concerns about equipment performance, IT decision-makers for enterprise clients have more time to focus on the more valuable areas that drive continued business growth and success.
Data center infrastructure refers to all the physical components in a data center environment. These physical components play a vital role in the day-to-day operations of a data center. Hence, data center management challenges are an urgent issue that IT departments need to pay attention to. On the one hand, it is to improve the energy efficiency of the data center; on the other hand, it is to know about the operating performance of the data center in real-time ensuring its good working condition and maintaining enterprise development.
Data Center Infrastructure Basics
The standard for data center infrastructure is divided into four tiers, each of which consists of different facilities. They mainly include cabling systems, power facilities, cooling facilities, network infrastructure, storage infrastructure, and computing resources.
There are roughly two types of infrastructure inside a data center: the core components and IT infrastructure. Network infrastructure, storage infrastructure, and computing resources belong to the former, while cooling equipment, power, redundancy, etc. belong to the latter.
Network, storage, and computing systems are vital infrastructures for data centers to achieve sharing access to applications and data, providing data centers with shared access to applications and data. Also, they are the core components of data centers.
Datacenter network infrastructure is a combination of network resources, consisting of switches, routers, load balancing, analytics, etc., to facilitate the storage and processing of applications and data. Modern data center networking architectures, through using full-stack networking and security virtualization platforms that support a rich set of data services, can achieve connecting everything from VMs, containers, and bare-metal applications, while enabling centralized management and fine-grained security controls.
Datacenter storage is a general term for the tools, technologies and processes for designing, implementing, managing and monitoring storage infrastructure and resources in data centers, mainly referring to the equipment and software technologies that implement data and application storage in data center facilities. These include hard drives, tape drives and other forms of internal and external storage and backup management software utilities external storage facilities/solutions.
A data center meter is a memory and processing power to run applications, usually provided by high-end servers. In the edge computing model, the processing and memory used to run applications on servers may be virtualized, physical, distributed among containers or distributed among remote nodes.
As data centers become critical to enterprise IT operations, it is equally important to keep them running efficiently. When designing data center infrastructure, it is necessary to evaluate its physical environment, including cabling system, power system, cooling system to ensure the security of the physical environment of the data center.
The integrated cabling is an important part of data center cable management, supporting the connection, intercommunication and operation of the entire data center network. The system is usually composed of copper cables, optical cables, connectors and wiring equipment. The application of the data center integrated wiring system has the characteristics of high density, high performance, high reliability, fast installation, modularization, future-oriented, and easy application.
Datacenter digital infrastructure requires electricity to operate. Even an interruption of a fraction of a second will result in a significant impact. Hence, power infrastructure is one of the most critical components of a data center. The data center power chain starts at the substation and ends up through building transformers, switches, uninterruptible power supplies, power distribution units, and remote power panels to racks and servers.
Data center servers generate a lot of heat while running. Based on this characteristic, cooling is critical to data center operations, aiming to keep systems online. The amount of power each rack can keep cool by itself places a limit on the amount of power a data center can consume. Generally, each rack can allow the data center to operate at an average 5-10 kW cooling density, but some may be higher.
Data Center Infrastructure Management Solutions
Due to the complexity of IT equipment in a data center, the availability, reliability, and maintenance of its components require more attention. Efficient data center operations can be achieved through balanced investments in facilities and accommodating equipment.
Energy Usage Monitoring Equipment
Traditional data centers lack the energy usage monitoring instruments and sensors required to comply with ASHRAE standards and collect measurement data for use in calculating data center PUE. It results in a poor monitoring environment for the power system of the data center. One measure is to install energy monitoring components and systems on power systems to measure data center energy efficiency. Enterprise teams can implement effective strategies by the measure to balance overall energy usage efficiency and effectively monitor the energy usage of all other nodes.
Cooling Facilities Optimization
Independent computer room air conditioning units used in traditional data centers often have separate controls and set points, resulting in excessive operation due to temperature and humidity adjustments. It’s a good way for helping servers to achieve cooling by creating hot-aisle/cold-aisle layouts to maximize the flow of cold air to the equipment intakes and the hot exhaust air from the equipment racks. The creation of hot or cold aisles can eliminate the mixing of hot and cold air by adding partitions or ceilings.
CRAC Efficiency Improvement
Packaged DX air conditioners likely compose the most common type of cooling equipment for smaller data centers. These units are often described as CRAC units. There are, however, there are several ways to improve the energy efficiency of the cooling system employing DX units. Indoor CRAC units are available with a few different heat rejection options.
– As with rooftop units, adding evaporative spray can improve the efficiency of air-cooled CRAC units.
– A pre-cooling water coil can be added to the CRAC unit upstream of the evaporator coil. When ambient conditions allow the condenser water to be cooled to the extent that it provides direct cooling benefits to the air entering the CRAC unit, the condenser water is diverted to the pre-cooling coil. This will reduce or sometimes eliminate the need for compressor-based cooling for the CRAC unit.
Data center infrastructure management is the combination of IT and operations to manage and optimize the performance of data center infrastructure within an organization. DCIM tools help data center operators monitor, measure, and manage the utilization and energy consumption of data center-related equipment and facility infrastructure components, effectively improving the relationship between data center buildings and their systems.
DCIM enables bridging of information across organizational domains such as data center operations, facilities, and IT to maximize data center utilization. Data center operators create flexible and efficient operations by visualizing real-time temperature and humidity status, equipment status, power consumption, and air conditioning workloads in server rooms.
In addition to the above management and operation solutions for infrastructure, unplanned maintenance is also an aspect to consider. Unplanned maintenance typically costs 3-9 times more than planned maintenance, primarily due to overtime labor costs, collateral damage, emergency parts, and service calls. IT teams can create a recurring schedule to perform preventive maintenance on the data center. Regularly checking the infrastructure status and repairing and upgrading the required components promptly can keep the internal infrastructure running efficiently, as well as extend the lifespan and overall efficiency of the data center infrastructure.
Data center security includes physical security and virtual security. Data center virtual security is actually data center network security，it refers to the various security precautions that are taken to maintain the operational agility of the infrastructure and data. Data center network security threats have become more and more rampant, and enterprises need to find countermeasures to protect sensitive information and prevent data vulnerabilities. We will discuss the data center cyber attacks and solutions.
What Are the Main Data Center Networking Threats?
Data center network is the most valuable and visible asset of storage organizations, while the data center networks, DNS, database, and email servers have become the number one target for cybercriminals, hacktivists, and state-sponsored attackers. Regardless of attackers’ purpose and what they are seeking financial gain, competitive intelligence, or notoriety, they are using a range of cyber technology weapons to attack data centers. The following are 5 top data center network threats.
Servers are prime targets of DDoS attack designed to disrupt and disable essential internet services. Service availability is critical to a positive customer experience. DDoS attacks, however, can directly threaten availability, resulting in loss of business revenue, customers, and reputation. From 2011 to 2013, the average size of DDoS attacks soared from 4.7 Gbps to 10 Gbps. What’s worse, there has also been a staggering increase in the average number of packets per second during a typical DDoS attack. This proved that the rapid growth of DDoS attacks is enough to disable most standard network equipment. Attackers can amplify the scale and intensity of DDoS attacks primarily by exploiting Web, DNS, and NTP servers, which requires enterprises to do a good job of network monitoring at all times.
Web Application Attack
Web applications are vulnerable to a range of attacks, such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting, cross-site request forgery, etc. Attackers attempt to break into applications and steal data for profit, resulting in enterprises’ data vulnerabilities. According to the 2015 Trustwave Global Security Report, approximately 98% of applications have or have had vulnerabilities. Attackers are increasingly targeting vulnerable web servers and installing malicious code to turn them into a DDoS attack source. Enterprises need proactive defenses to stop web attacks and “virtual patching” of data vulnerabilities.
DNS infrastructure is also vulnerable to DDoS attacks or other threats. It is turned into a target of data center cyber attacks for two reasons. First, attackers can prevent Internet users from accessing the Internet by taking DNS servers offline through a variety of means. If an attacker disables DNS servers of ISP, they can block everything the ISP does to users and Internet services. Second, attackers can also amplify DDoS attacks by exploiting DNS servers. Attackers spoof the IP addresses of their real targets, instruct DNS servers to recursively query many DNS servers or send a flood of responses to victims. This allows the DNS server to directly control the victim’s network of DNS traffic. Even if the DNS server is not the ultimate target for attackers, it still causes data center downtime and outages due to DNS reflection attacks.
SSL Blind Spot Exploitation
Many applications support SSL, however, it is surprising that SSL encryption is also a way that attackers can exploit for network intrusion. Although decrypt SSL traffic is decrypted by firewalls, intrusion prevention and threat prevention products, etc., there are some security implications for data vulnerabilities due to these products’ inability to keep up with the growing demand for SSL encryption. For example, the conversion from 1024-bit to 2048-bit SSL keys requires about 6.3 times the processing power to decrypt. This case shows that security applications are gradually breaking down under the decryption requirements of increasing SSL certificate key lengths. For this reason, attackers can easily exploit this defense blind spot for intrusion.
Applications often use authentication to authenticate users, allowing application owners to restrict access to authorized users. But for convenience, many people perform a single authentication. This makes it easy for attackers to use password cracking tools to brute force. Hackers will crack lists of stolen passwords, and even password hashes, and use them to break into other online accounts. As a result, enterprises centrally manage authentication services and prevent users from repeating failed login attempts.
Data Center Virtual Security Solutions
Network security defenses in the data center are imperative. In view of the data vulnerabilities and network security risks caused by the five major data center network security threats, here are some defense solutions.
Prevent vulnerabilities: Deploy IPS to protect and patch frequently vulnerable systems and applications. IPS can also detect exploits targeting DNS infrastructure or attempts to use DNS to evade security protections.
Network segmentation: Network segmentation implemented effectively enables preventing lateral movement and achieves least privilege access under a zero-trust security model.
Deploying application and API protection: The solution to mitigate the OWASP top 10 risks for web applications is to use web and API security applications. Also, data centers can install firewalls and intrusion detection systems (IDS), to help businesses monitor and traffic inspect before it reaches the internal network.
Defense against DDoS: Use on-prem and cloud DDoS protections to mitigate DDoS threats.
Prevent credential theft: Deploy anti-phishing protection for users to prevent credential theft attacks.
Securing supply chains: Detect and prevent sophisticated supply chain attacks using AI and ML-backed threat prevention, as well as EDR and XDR technologies.
Cyberattacks also have a profound impact on data center network security. Enterprises should prepare defense solutions for data centers to ensure data security. The best practices above can also help enterprises gain relevant information about how their data center networks are operating, allowing the IT team to enhance the virtual security of their data centers while maintaining physical security.