Since the beginning of mankind, color has always been the easiest way to identify, recognize and classify just about anything, and it has always been an integral part of our industry—from the colors of individual fibers and copper conductors, to the outer jacket of a cable and modular jacks.
Let’s take a look at how color today is improving performance, manageability and visibility from the data center to the outlet.
By now you may have heard about or seen the new standard color for OM4 fiber—Erika Violet. Also known as Heather Violet in the UK, this bright pinkish color being used for OM4 cable, adapters and connectors isn’t just an attempt to jazz up the data center.
When OM4 fiber was first approved in 2009, it remained the same color as its OM3 predecessor—aqua. When technicians see the same color cables and connectors, they often assume they are the same type. To truly differentiate, their only choice is to follow the cable back and carefully examine the tiny (sometimes illegible) cable legend or check their documentation.
With today’s optical loss budgets being more of a concern than ever as we prepare for 40G duplex, using an OM3 channel when you meant to use OM4 can push your loss over the limit and cause loss of bandwidth on fiber links.
With Belden OM4 Erika Violet cable, adapters and connectors now prominently displayed in pathways and at fiber panels, mistakenly plugging in the wrong fiber type is virtually impossible.
Color doesn’t just help ensure performance. For decades, municipalities and jurisdictions having authority (JHAs) have specified unique cable colors for fire alarm and other life safety systems. With so many different systems now converging onto a single IP-based infrastructure and the same type of cabling, color has become more important than ever.
In telecommunication spaces, segregating systems using color eases management at patch panels for IT staff. At the outlet, color can help ensure that the right equipment is plugged into the right jack. This is especially important for critical systems that support life and safety. TIA-1179 healthcare standards even recommend colored cables to segregate and identify various healthcare systems.
St. Francis Hospital in Columbus , Georgia recently took advantage of the 16 different color varieties available for Belden cable and modular jacks installed copper patch panels and workstation outlets to segregate healthcare systems and medical office tenants in their new 400,000 square foot expansion.
Color also determines how light is reflected, which is why many data centers are going with lighter cabinets and enclosures such as Belden’s X Series enclosures available in central office white and titanium FiberExpress Ultra HD housing.
With gray-white reflecting up to 80% of light and black only reflecting 5%, black cabinets and enclosures can make it more difficult for technicians to see. Lighter cabinets and enclosures reduce the need for more lighting and they don’t absorb as much heat. This has the potential to reduce lighting energy consumption and help keep equipment cool.
So whether you want to ensure that OM3 and OM4 fiber type are not inadvertently mixed, segregate various systems for easier management or improve visibility, don’t discount color when designing your data center and network infrastructure.
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.