Maintaining a seamless appearance has not always been easy for middle of row (MoR) or end of row (EoR) distribution areas in the data center where dissimilar-looking copper and fiber patch panels typically reside within the same cabinet—especially with many data center managers preferring the use of angled copper patch panels that provide more intuitive routing and save space by eliminating the need for horizontal managers.
When looks are high on the priority list, some have had to forego the angled copper patch panels in favor of flat to better match the fiber panels in the same cabinet. It’s simply an aesthetics issue that the industry has had to deal with when distributing fiber from core switches to intermediate switches and then transitioning to copper for the servers within the same cabinet.
To respond to the need for a seamless appearance in these applications, Belden recently released angled pre-terminated fiber cassettes that feature the same unique angle shape as our AngleFlex copper patch panel inserts. Stacked together in the cabinet, one can’t help but admit that it’s a pretty sharp and consistent look.
Both copper and fiber angled patch panels do a great job of minimizing patch cord bend radius, and unlike larger “V-shaped” designs that protrude much farther, the angled inserts provide a shallower, low-profile design for more room inside the cabinet.
But there are some considerations.
Let’s face it. Fiber connections are a lot more sensitive than copper. Even the slightest movement can impact insertion loss. And with today’s data centers looking to deploy infrastructures that are ready to support 40G and 100G, as well as flattened architectures for improved latency, loss budgets have become more stringent than ever.
When working with loss budgets that are as small as 1.5 dB, even just an additional 0.1 dB loss on a fiber connector can mean the difference between pass and fail—and the difference between a network that supports the application and one that experiences higher-than-normal bit error rates once the active equipment is up and running.
Fiber patch panels are often therefore designed to provide maximum protection of fiber ports, typically with covered patch cord trays that prevent users from inadvertently knocking into and damaging the connections.
One of the concerns with an angled fiber panel is that even with a low-profile design, it’s inevitable that fiber ports will be pushed out from the panel farther than with a flat panel. Consequently, the patch cords can end up pushing against covers, potentially putting stress on the cords, boots and couplers.
When using angled fiber panels to match your angled copper panels, it’s better to not use the covers. Besides, if the point is to have a consistent look with the angled copper panels, why would you want to cover the ports anyway?
Just remember, without the cover in place, you need to be a bit more careful around those fiber ports.
Dwayne Crawford has more than 20 years of experience in the datacomm industry. He has served on several international standards committees to advance high-performance/low-latency protocols (such as IEEE-1394, GigE Vision and CameraLink) used in real-time image processing and utilizing high-performance computing platforms.