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Data Center Cabling Overview: Industry Standards and Optimal Practices

Author Moore

Date 01/23/2024

The essence of data centers lies in the network and connectivity facilitated by cabling. Approaching data center cable management with foresight is imperative to avoid a cascade of problems in the aftermath.

The essential network and connectivity facilitated by the cabling infrastructure within data centers is at the heart of daily operational efficiency for businesses. The selection of data center cables, whether fiber optic or copper, is contingent upon the specific equipment and its corresponding needs. Regardless of the type of cable employed, it is imperative to approach data center cable management proactively to avoid potential complications that may arise subsequently.

The Data Center Cabling and Standards Introduction


The data center cabling pertains to the physical interconnection of all elements within a data center. The meticulous implementation of cabling in data centers is essential to guarantee that the infrastructure is well-organized and optimized for efficient performance.


The Types of Data Center Cabling


Data center cabling encompasses the network of cables employed in a typical data center. Two primary types of data center cables exist: structured and unstructured.


Structured cabling design adheres to predefined data center cabling standards, featuring predetermined connection points and pathways. The process usually commences with testing to ensure optimal cable performance, followed by organization and labeling. Although a structured cabling system may entail a lengthier installation period and initial higher costs than an unstructured approach, the overall operational expenses are reduced, and the system enjoys an extended lifespan.


The unstructured cabling does not adhere to predefined data center cabling standards, connection points, or pathways. This approach may result in higher energy costs and challenge cable management.

The Standards of Data Center Cabling


ANSI/TIA-942: This standard describes how to define different functional areas within the data center. Within these functional areas, the standard specifies minimum recommended standards for the data center cabling infrastructure, including pathways, space, the distance between the backbone and horizontal cable medium, redundancy, cable management, and environmental considerations.


ISO/IEC 24764: An international standard based on TIA-942 and EN 50173-5, defining cabling in data centers. References ISO/IEC 11801 and includes additional information relevant to data centers.


ANSI/BICSI 002-2014: Provides comprehensive guidelines for the design and operation of data centers. Covers planning, construction, commissioning, protection, management, maintenance, cabling infrastructure, pathways, spaces, modular/container-type data centers, energy efficiency, and introduces an availability class structure for determining reliability.

Data Center Cable Color Codes


Ensuring maximum uptime is crucial in the operation of any data center. Clearly outlining the role of network cables to all users is essential for achieving this uptime. The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) is crucial in establishing optical fiber cable color coding standards. TIA defines different color codes for various fiber-grade cables in indoor environments.


Currently, there are six distinct specifications for fiber optic cable designations, encompassing optical multimode fiber (OM) and optical single-mode fiber (OS). The following represents the established color-coding for these standards:


Fiber Grade

Color Code

Multimode OM1


Multimode OM2


Multimode OM3


Multimode OM4

Erika violet or Aqua

Single mode OS1


Single mode OS2



Why Do You Need a Data Center Cable Management


Datacenter cable management is a pivotal element in upholding the efficiency and orderliness of a data center, ensuring optimal connectivity and functionality of equipment and devices with reliability, efficiency, and safety.


Airflow: Implementing effective cable management promotes unimpeded airflow through racks, mitigating the risk of overheating or hot spots. This, in turn, extends the lifespan of equipment and reduces associated maintenance costs.


Maintenance: Structured arrangement of data center cables simplifies the process of identifying and tracing, thereby streamlining troubleshooting and maintenance procedures. The result is reduced downtime and enhanced overall productivity.


Safety: Appropriately routed cables contribute to a safer environment by minimizing the risk of tripping and other accidents. Labeling and organizing cables prevent accidental disconnections, mitigating potential data loss or other issues.


Scalability: In the face of data center expansion, proficient cable management ensures the seamless addition of new equipment without disrupting existing installations, thus promoting scalability.


Compliance: Conforming to suitable practices for data center cable management aligns with a variety of regulations and industry standards. This compliance not only safeguards the security and integrity of data but also contributes to environmental protection by minimizing unnecessary cable waste.


Data Center Cabling Management

Best Practice for Data Center Cabling Infrastructure


How To Manage Data Center Cabling


Opt for structured cabling: Structured cabling systems exhibit a systematic and carefully designed approach tailored to meet the requirements of each unique working environment. This characteristic enhances manageability and facilitates easy updates, scalability, and flexibility.


Select the appropriate cabling solution: When conceptualizing a data center, it's crucial to anticipate future transmission speeds and determine the most effective cabling infrastructure to support them. Recognizing the diversity of data center environments is essential, as it influences the choice of the most suitable cabling.


Validate the design: Before purchasing equipment or cables, verify the availability of sufficient connections and the correct type of connectors essential for the planned design.

Precisely calculate cable lengths: Thoroughly compute cable lengths for each run before initiating any implementation. This approach minimizes clutter, streamlines installation and troubleshooting processes, and concurrently reduces overall costs.


How To Install Data Center Cabling


Develop a clear and user-friendly installation plan: Ambiguous or confusing instructions can result in expensive rework. The installation plan should comprehensively outline each cable and connector type, providing explicit connection instructions.


Consider compatibility: Before commencing the installation process, it is essential to confirm that the cable connections, particularly from a switch to a device, are compatible with the available ports on the switch. Validating compatibility beforehand is crucial for a smooth installation.


Measure cables accurately before installation: Precision in measuring cable lengths is vital to maintaining a clutter-free data center and reducing costs by eliminating wasted cable.

Keep documentation current: Outdated or inaccurate patch cabling documentation poses challenges in provisioning new services, equipment maintenance, and troubleshooting connectivity issues.


Regularly test cables: Regular testing is paramount to ensure that the infrastructure functions optimally and supports the required bandwidth and system needs.


Incorporate a growth plan: When evaluating data center cable management plans, it's crucial to consider current and future needs. This approach helps avoid costly and time-consuming modifications, positioning the system to meet the company's growing demands.


Data Center Cabling with QSFPTEK


QSFPTEK's fiber optic cables are designed to cater to diverse requirements and undergo rigorous testing to ensure compliance with cable standards.


The OS2 single-mode fibers and multimode fiber cables exhibit excellent repeatability and interchangeability, featuring various connector types, flame-retardant, and rugged characteristics.


QSFPTEK offers premium-quality MTP Trunk Cables and Breakout Cables designed for high-density cabling in 25G/40G/100G environments. Elevate your network connectivity with our dependable and efficient MTP cable solutions. This reduces the time and cuts down on the cost of network installation or reconfiguration.


QSFPTEK's copper data center cables are available in multiple colors and lengths, simplifying complex cable runs. A CM-grade PVC jacket safeguards these cables, and the snap-free design ensures the protection of the clip during both insertion and extraction processes.


Data Center Cabling with QSFPTEK


For inquiries or further information on data center cabling systems, don't hesitate to contact QSFPTEK, and design your entire data center cabling infrastructure, offering cost-effective, high-quality solutions in optical fiber and copper cables. Feel free to contact us for comprehensive support.


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