Data center Cabling

With the complexities of today’s data centers, cabling structured is one of the most integral advances in data network design. Furthermore,  in order to achieve current and future data transmission performance requirement a proper cabling structure plan laid out allows data centers to be prepared for the changes and system iterations they’re sure to face in the next one to two decades.

Note: Data Center Cabling can be excused in the following form

  •  Passive Cabling
  • Active Cabling
  • Copper Cabling
  • Fiber Cabling

 Passive cabling provides a direct electrical connection between corresponding cable ends. Active cables provide the same effect but, by embedding optics and/or electronics within the connectors, can overcome some of the limitations of passive cables. While passive cables are always copper-based, active cables can use either copper wire or fiber optics to provide the link between the cable ends.

Structured cabling

The structured cabling approach involves  the design and installation of a cabling system that will support multiple hardware uses and be suitable for today’s needs and those of the future. With a correctly installed system, current and future requirements can be met, and hardware that is added in the future will be supported. These standards define the layout of the cables according to the requirements of the clients and the data center as a whole.

Cabling of a data center needs to adhere to different standards of specification. Amongst them the most important standard that one needs to know for structured cabling is the TIA standard.

The TIA standard specifies the minimization of design and management of structured cabling within data centers.

Before analyzing the TIA standard, it is important that we understand the need for structured cabling for a data center.

Need for structured cabling

Today data centers houses a large number of diverse bandwidth-intensive device, including bladed servers, clustered storage system, visualisation appliances and backup devices all interconnected by networking  equipment these devices require physical cabling. Most of the time data centers and SANs are constructed without having considered the implications of frequent additions, moves, and expansions. Some systems like the computers and single physical servers are normally installed by the company’s own technicians and crew. This crew is competent when it comes to the perspective of their own equipments. But the data centers house in them varied, disparate equipments, and data storage devices. Using such practices inevitably causes inefficient management of critical conditions. Critical conditions could range from advancement in technology to the addition of new products and services.

In the early years, a wide variety of cabling and architecture were common, but difficult to manage. This form of undesirable situation lead to the formation of the TIA/EIA-568 Commercial Building Cabling Standard, which eventually changed the way cabling for commercial buildings, telecommunication sectors, and data centers were done. This introduced a new and modernized way of cabling that is the ‘structured cabling’.

Many cable and copper industries developed new connectivity products that dramatically offered advantages to the data centers and SANs. Most of the experts and their successors, who developed the TIA-568 and its next called the TIA-568a, developed another standard called the SCS.The TIA-568 was designed to suit the requirements of commercial buildings.

The TIA-942, Telecommunication Infrastructure Standard for data centers is bound to have immense effect on the data center and SAN as profoundly as the TIA 568 has on commercial buildings.

This new standard allows the SCS concepts to be implemented in the disparate equipments very early in the building design process. This particular standard views the whole data center as an integrated system with smaller ancillary elements. As a result, it interlinks many components like location, access along with architecture and electrical components to a most important concept of redundancy.

The TIA 942 includes seven spaces and two cabling subsystems within the data center.

  • Ø Seven spaces include-
  • Computer room
  • Telecommunications room
  • Entrance room
  • Main Distribution Area(MDA)
  • Horizontal Distribution Area( HDA)
  • Zone Distribution Area( ZDA)
  • Equipment Distribution Area (EDA)


The cabling subsystems in TIA 942 include the horizontal and backbone.The first five spaces generally involve many connections like high density panels and racks using fiber connectors like LC. The entrance room is the interface within the campus and is similar to the entrance room of a commercial building. MDA is the area where the main cross connect is located. HDA houses the horizontal cross connect. ZDA is an optional space and is where the zone outlet is located. EDA is where the cabinets, servers, and racks are located. It is similar to the working area of a commercial building.

Note: Every structured cabling system is distinctive and unique because of the following reasons.

  • The architectural structure of the building, which houses the cabling installation.
  • The cable and connection products
  • The function of the cabling installation
  • The types of equipment the cabling installation will support — present and future
  • The configuration of an already installed system (upgrades and retrofits)
  • Customer requirements
  • Manufacturer warranties.


Although cabling represent about 10 percent of the overall data center network investment. Structured cabling have always been a credible alternative to traditional ToR designs. However, With the technologies that are being deployed within data centre today and the absolute reliance on the cabling infrastructure to deliver these new higher bandwidth solutions and offer greater and cheaper scalability.