Within any data center are two distinct and separate spaces known as “white space” and “gray space.”
Although these two areas function differently, are managed differently and serve unique purposes, they work together and depend on one another to collect, store, process and distribute data.
Learn a little bit more about them here …
Defining White Space Inside a Data Center
White space is the area dedicated to IT equipment and infrastructure, such as:
- Hot/cold aisles
- Network gear
- Power distribution
The term is also used to refer to unoccupied square footage available to deploy future IT equipment.
You could consider it the data center “production floor.” It’s kept clean and mostly white to maintain cleanliness and support better visibility and light reflection.
White spaces are typically very secure, with access allowed only to those who are qualified (like IT engineers or data center managers).
Defining Gray Space Inside a Data Center
Gray space is the area dedicated to back-end equipment, including:
- Switch gear
It serves as the data center’s electrical and mechanical plant, designed to keep the white space running. The more white space your data center has, the more gray space you’ll likely need to support it. Instead of being maintained by IT staff, it’s operated and supported by facilities engineers or facilities managers.
Meet the Meet-Me Room
Inside this gray space is also where you’ll find the meet-me room (MMR): a managed space that allows cable companies, internet service providers (ISPs), telecommunications carriers and other carriers to cross connect with data center tenants (these cross connects enter the white space). They support the physical connections (mostly fiber optic) of different companies and ISPs within the same building, allowing them to exchange data before distributing services to the facility and owner’s internal network.
Carrier equipment resides in the MMR without requiring access to client real estate, which reduces risk and improves security.
MMRs also support inter-campus and intra-campus cross connects. Let’s say your SAP application wants to share data with Salesforce for invoice creation. Instead of going outside the data center to communicate, these applications can use the cross connect for intra-campus communication as long as they’re contained within the same data center (as well as their servers and data). In inter-campus situations where multiple data center facilities exist on a single campus, meet-me rooms support private connections to move data over short distances quickly and eliminate switching and routing.
From there, MMR space is further categorized into two sectors:
- The main distribution frame/cross connect, which serves as the carrier-to-owner connection point
- The rack space, which is where incoming services from carriers are managed and distributed
If an MMR is located on an exterior wall, it may also include an entrance facility where outdoor cables enter the building.
The Importance of Meet-Me Rooms within Gray Space
MMRs can help you accomplish several things within your data center:
- Lower latency by reducing the number of network hops for faster performance
- Lower costs by avoiding local loop charges
- Faster expansion by providing more fiber connection options for tenants
In other words: Meet-me rooms are critical if you want to support uninterrupted internet exchange and ensure smooth data transmission. They connect all the companies and carriers working together in the same data center space while removing round-trip traffic, ensuring that the data doesn’t leave the facility (and lowering costs and boosting security).
Belden’s new DCX System is a high-density fiber cross-connect solution designed to optimize your fiber infrastructure ROI—and is ideal for these types of connections in meet-me rooms.
Its unique design provides the highest fiber termination available, while maintaining the maximum signal integrity through bend radius control for incoming and outgoing cables. It handles high amounts of fiber connections and enables you to add density to your fiber, offering you lower total cost of ownership in terms of capital and operating expenses.
Learn more about Belden’s DCX Optical Distribution Frame!
Ron joined Belden in 2016 to help define the roadmap of technology and applications in enterprise. Prior to this, he developed cables and connectivity for Panduit and Andrew Corp. Ron Tellas is a subject-matter expert in RF design and Electromagnetic Propagation. He represents Belden in the ISO WG3 committee, TIA TR42 Premises Cabling Standards, IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Group and is a committee member of NFPA 70 Code-Making Panel 3. Ron is the inventor of 16 US patents. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology, and a Master of Business Administration from Purdue University.