The human race generates 28 Billion Gigabytes of new data every day. 90% of the data currently in existence has been generated in just the last two years. Everything from YouTube to medical imaging to super market loyalty programs are contributing to this growth. Our appetite for a detailed and immediate information stream continues to match, or even exceed, the pace of what current technology offers. Processing, categorizing and storing all of this data is a massive task. Data centers all over the world, full of the latest in information processing technology, are whirring away in the familiar “Song of the Cooling Fan” symphony as they work to satisfy our need for information…now.
One of the barriers to our voracious consumption of real time data is how to transport it from point A to point B, C, D, and so on. If we can’t quickly and efficiently move the data from place to place it loses its value. The transport system, otherwise known as cabling, bears this task. The choices are broken down into three primary technologies; copper, fiber optics, and wireless. Within each of these there are a dizzying amount of cable types to choose from, all engineered to accomplish a specific task. In determining the minimum level of data transport capabilities there are choices that bears designations determined by standards organizations such as ANSI, ISO and the TIA/EIA just to name a few. In copper we have Category 5E, Category 6, Category 6a and the coming Category 7 (class F) and Category 8. All of these have the option of being shielded as well. Coaxial cable is also part of this copper family and is widely used for video distribution. The choices in fiber optics are equally as varied from singlemode to multimode, with additional designation such as OM1, OM2 OM3 and OM4. The copper side of things make it look easy compared to wireless. Wireless data transportation is akin to inviting the finicky eccentric cousin to thanksgiving dinner. You never really know what’s going to happen. Sometimes they bring a great gift and have cool stories sometimes they offend everyone at the table and run over your mailbox as they leave.
The current industry discussion about whether or not a network is ready For 100Gig is heating up. The critical link to making this a reality, is selection of the proper cable and then have it installed correctly. The right cable installed incorrectly will not perform as intended. Installation by a trained technician, approved by the cable manufacturer is as important as the choices of the active equipment. You can have the most amazing boxes full of blinking lights sitting in your data center or server room but if you don’t have the right type of cable installed by a properly trained technician, it would be like owning a Ferrari while living in a Makuxi tribal village in the southern amazon jungle. All dressed up and nowhere to go.