Answer

Top-of-rack switches growth: Demise of copper structured cabling?

Carrie Higbie, Network Infrastructure Expert

With all of the push for top-of-rack switches, is this the end of copper structured cabling?

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Absolutely not. Most of the top-of-rack switches are now available with 10GBASE-T ports. This allows for longer cables that are directly meant for copper structured cabling. The benefit here is that by centralizing the switches into distribution areas or zones, you open up the switch ports to a greater number of servers and end devices due to the cable.  

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I think it is important to note that a well-planned, well designed cable plant never causes cooling problems, but a bunch of point-to-point connections certainly can. If you look at the amount of savings you can have with switch ports when they are deployed in zones rather than top of rack switches, it is significant. Generally what you end up saving, pays for the copper structured cabling. I work with end users on design often, and zones save significant amounts of money (some upwards of 5 million) for larger data centers. It is important to understand how the switches work and what the options are before you believe marketing material which may not be the best design for your enterprise.

This was first published in February 2012

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