As we mentioned in last week’s blog, choices for data center media can be tricky – and there’s no right or wrong answer (or one answer that fits every data center).

In this week’s blog, we pick up where we left off – discussing the next step in making the right data center media choice.

Reducing Waste

In studying, working with and sharing Lean processes relative to our industry, you realize quickly that variance goes hand in hand with waste. Waste is bad for everyone involved in the supply chain –especially the end-user, because they are the net recipient of the sum total of all waste. They bear the largest burden at the end of the day.

Specifically within data centers, through my experiences, I’ve seen that accuracy is perhaps the biggest factor that affects data center infrastructure: accuracy in defining the need, as well as forecasting the usage. This sets the foundation for the project. All other decisions are often based on these two fundamental considerations. The more we increase the variance, or lack of surety, the greater potential we have for waste, increased costs and not meeting the business need.

How does this apply to data center media choices? Why did I mention in last week’s blog that, sometimes, the media choice may be nothing at all? Because of the level of uncertainty you may have about your requirements. The more accuracy you have in defining the need and forecast, the more specific you can be in choosing your media.

Common wisdom, tribal knowledge or herd mentality has always been: “Pre-wire your data center infrastructure to provide a generic infrastructure that provides connectivity for all your needs at the lowest possible cost.” That certainly can be true; in going back to Lean principles and reducing variance, however, this may not apply when you have a significant degree of uncertainty in your need and/or your forecast. In some cases, pre-wiring can actually be, counterintuitively, much more expensive if significant changes are needed. This may cause cascading adjustments beyond just media.

I have seen pre-wired data centers where, 10 years later, half or more of the data center infrastructure remains unused (because it was intended for future use that didn’t happen). In addition, there have been significant additions to address inevitable changes. The changes may or may not have been avoidable; ultimately, the issue is with pre-wired data center infrastructure only being used at 50% or less capacity. That means there was more than 100% waste from Day One; compounded by capital costs, the waste becomes even more expensive to the client.

That’s not to say, however, that you shouldn’t pre-wire a data center. But, before you do:

  • Do you know the requirements?
  • Is the forecast accurate?
  • Have you defined the need?

If the answers are “yes,” then, by all means, design, plan and install the infrastructure. You can be very prescriptive with the requirements and be confident you are doing the right thing. If there is a small degree of uncertainty, then perhaps your design needs to be more descriptive in its definition, and your planning and installation need to be more agile and opportunistic so you provide the need at the time required.

What happens when the degree of uncertainty is more significant? Perhaps it means that a value-based decision will lead you to not plan or install the infrastructure until that uncertainty is addressed and the need is defined. Even in this case, design parameters and philosophy can be defined so that, when you do have the information, you can quickly and efficiently fulfill the need with minimal waste.

Making the Right Choice

So, can you pick the copper, fiber or wireless data center infrastructure solutions for your facility? Yes, you can – and it’s easy when you have the right information. The correct choice(s) for data center media will be obvious.

But, if you don’t know what you need, maybe the right decision is no media at all. Find a partner like Belden that will work with you to help identify, quantify and qualify your needs – and then make specific recommendations that fit your specific needs. It’s no different than Goldilocks and the three bears: If we give it some thought, we’ll get the solution just right. That should be our goal, whether we are building a data center or any other type of premises; then, we can all live happily ever after, just like in the movies.

Need help identifying the right data center media type? (Or determining whether you need new media at all?) Ask us your questions, and we’ll get you on the right track.