Reichle & De-Massari (R&M), the globally active Swiss developer and provider of cabling systems for high-quality network infrastructures, presents again its market outlook for 2020. Looking ahead, we’d like to share some insights into developments in Public, Data Center and LAN, which, until relatively recently, existed side by side with little overlap. However, as market segments keep merging, this separation will all but disappear…
LAN Cabling trend #1: Convergence
Deployments such as cloud, software-as-a-service, 5G, IoT and smart buildings have changed the network landscape. Integrated pools of (virtualized) resources are increasingly shared across applications. IP is becoming a common medium for previously separate systems and structured cabling will increasingly transport data along with power, lighting, security - and more. As LANs merge with Building Automation, a new kind of connectivity is emerging, requiring high levels of standardization, availability, and reliability. An ‘All over IP’ approach facilitates this, with building technology and building management devices communicating over Ethernet and IP. LAN provides a physical layer, with Internet and Cloud integrated into the background. Ethernet will be increasingly used to network ever-increasing numbers of devices, and Power over Ethernet (PoE) will efficiently and inexpensively power more end devices over data cables, enabling advanced lighting and sensor applications.
LAN Cabling trend #2: Single Pair Ethernet vs. Field Bus
High density, connection speed and ease of installation - prerequisites for network flexibility and scalability - can be achieved by replacing the traditional field bus with Single Pair Ethernet. Instead of introducing connectivity for each application, uniform manufacturer-independent connectivity can be used. This simplifies installation and maintenance, increases the number of possible connection points and reduces material and operation costs. Smart, converged networks support energy-saving technologies and applications, such as intelligent management of building space, resources, and lighting. PoE can power and address LEDs via individual IP addresses throughout buildings. Infrastructure companies can integrate more devices in their systems, leveraging the benefits of a unified network.
Telecom networks trend #1: Leveraging FTTx
Once rolled out, 5G should be able to link 100 billion devices. Connecting 5G base stations using radio links will no longer suffice - antennas must be integrated into fiber networks and connected to edge data centers. The required small cells, 5G macrocells, and antennas require considerable bandwidth and low latency. Without ubiquitous fiber, introducing 5G would make little sense. Service providers are combining FTTx and 5G rollouts to benefit from a common infrastructure that supports both platforms. In fact, according to studies by the FTTH Council Europe, investing in fiber means operators can get 5G practically ‘for free’.
Telecom networks trend #2: Fast and cost-effective: WDM & blown microfiber
Wavelength-Division-Multiplexing (WDM) transmits different services at different wavelengths, cost-effectively increasing capacity without introducing vast amounts of new fiber. Send and receiving multiple signals, instead of just one, effectively increases fiber capacity. Add-drop multiplexer solutions allow extraction of a small number of connections, for example in small cell deployment, whilst allowing the rest to continue.
A well-designed solution should accommodate all current and near-future requirements, offer a lower cost per connection than existing platforms, and provide a pay-as-you-grow approach and flexible upgrade path for years to come. Initial investment in cabling can be kept to a minimum, with the possibility to upgrade and expand the FTTx /Access network when required. Furthermore, Air Blown Fiber (ABF) makes it possible to blow fiber into tubes only when needed, reducing cost and boosting design flexibility, and eliminating the need for splicing and interconnection points.
Telecom networks trend #3: Leveraging 5G
Wider availability of fiber and 5G will bring demand for a wide range of new products and (private, business and industrial) applications, such as hidden or camouflaged antennas, PoE-equipped devices and solutions for bridging short distances. Low-latency connectivity will support everything from self-driving cars to remote healthcare services, machine communication, smart city services and extended mobile communication (UHD, AR, smart home, high speed internet…).
Data Center networks trend #1: Greater importance of the edge
Owing to inherent limitations of a wireless solution, fiber is required to successfully cable and connect billions of sensors, enabling extremely high, uninterrupted, low-latency symmetrical bandwidth. Data transmission and processing requirements are driving the creation of edge infrastructures that extend and support centralized structures with computing power at the edge of the network. Popular content and applications are cached closer to less densely networked markets, improving performance and experience.
Data Center networks trend #2: High density
A High-Density solution can boost capacity and increase available space whilst preparing for the future. You can start off with a single rack unit and grow as required. As high-density infrastructure runs hotter, cooling is essential. Cabling shouldn’t restrict airflow. As cables are more difficult to grip and manipulate in densely packed racks, it becomes harder to see what you’re doing. The risk of damage and faulty connections increases. It is definitely worth investing in racks and panels specially developed for higher-density solutions.
Data Center networks trend #3: Automated Infrastructure Management (AIM)
Today’s data centers may contain tens or hundreds of thousands of ports and patch cords. Network operation automation is on the agenda as hardware and software solutions are required to unburden humans and boost efficiency. AIM solutions facilitate the management of increasingly large and complex infrastructures, represented in a consistent single database. This provides real-time insight into resources such as server ports, cabinet space, and energy requirements. These solutions vastly improve the efficiency of operation, utilization, and administration, whilst reducing incident resolution time and downtime.
Want to find out more? Over the coming weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at these trends and related solutions in a separate series of articles.