Episode 1 : Wires and cables in data center
Karellys: Welcome to Nassau National Cable Podcast. This is Karellys, your host. And today we are going to start a new topic and it's about data centers. So today we have Vita with us. She is our in-house expert for all topics and applications of wires and cables. She's been working in the field of electrical wires and cables for five years now, four of which she has been working with us and helping us make sure to keep up with the most recent updates and market trends, as well as with all the different questions our customers like you have for the project. Throughout the years, we've received more than enough questions that we would like to try and answer from an expert so that there's more information out there and you can proceed with your projects with more clarity. So, Vita, how are you today?
Vita: I'm great. Thank you for having me here.
Karellys: This is our first podcast and we're definitely looking forward to getting all your suggestions, notes and more questions that you think we should answer on our next episode. So, Vita, today I would like to talk about something that's very important nowadays, especially that everything is involving the internet and computers and information, movement of documents, et cetera, et cetera. So, we need something that is called a data center. So, in your words and from your experience, can you tell us more or like a brief summary of what a data center is and what different types are?
Vita: Yeah, sure. So, to put it simply, a data center is a building that has complicated infrastructure and it also has the equipment for storing and processing various data and applications. And what makes data center unique is that the data that is kept there is usually very important to the organization, the company, or the customers that want to keep this data safe. And the data center has all the equipment to efficiently store the data and keep it as safe as possible. There are many various types of data centers and you can split the classifications of data centers into different categories. For example, depending on the type of the information that is stored in data centers, there are data centers for business, data centers for cryptocurrency, data centers that support big data like artificial intelligence or machine learning, data center for ecommerce companies, for gaming, and just for storing the data. Also, we can talk about data centers based on the structure. There are, like, location center. It is a type of data center where customers rent equipment, space and bandwidth from the owner of the data center to keep their data there. Also, through our Enterprise Data Centers, it is like a type of data center that is fully owned by a certain company. And these types of data centers are used to process internal data and post mission critical applications within the company. Depending on the size, there are hyper scale data centers. For example, AWS Amazon data center is usually very large. Also, there are edge data centers which are smaller data centers that are closer to the end user. And in edge data centers, instead of having one massive storage, there are multiple smaller ones which helps to minimize latency. Also, there are even micro data centers. It can be as small as small office room with the equipment where data is processed. Aside from traditional data centers, we also have cloud data centers which are basically virtual. Data is stored virtually and they usually don't have as much hardware as traditional data centers.
Karellys: Okay, so as a summary, a data center is basically a building where you can say all the information comes before moving to its destination.
Vita: Not just moving, it doesn't matter, like what is the goal of this information because this could be different depending on what is stored there. But what unites all data centers is that data is stored there and it's kept safe and goal of why the data is stored, maybe different depending on the utility.
Karellys: Okay, that's interesting. So, I heard you say something about designing and it has to be very particular or depending on what the usage of the data center will be. So, is it important to plan the design of this center and why is it important?
Vita: Yeah, it is very important to plan the design of the data center because efficiency is key when it comes to data centers every single detail may end up mattering. So, you need to have a plan because the plan helps you to achieve your goals without any interventions. So actually, it is even better to have a data center designed for you by third party because the structure of data center is very complex. So, it is best to have a very particular plan every step of the way because not having a plan may turn into issues and the data canters will not be able to work. For example, the most important issue that you should avoid when building data center is like any issues with data security or in data security, because you can lose a lot of money on data security. Also issues with power management and capacity should be avoided in order to preserve your business. That's why you need a plan all the time.
Karellys: Right. I was going to ask you from experience what were the things that could go wrong if you don't plan ahead for this data center?
Karellys: Also, when you talk about security right, it's important for you to have the right design. Is that important in terms of security and everything else?
Vita: Well, security is important because the main goal of the data center is to store the data. So, data should be safe at all times. This is like the essence of data center to keep the data safe. And if that data breach happens or data is lost, you could lose millions of dollars in intellectual property and stolen personal information. Some legal issues as well that's why data security is perhaps most essential out of all the issues that may occur with data centers.
Karellys: Right Yeah. Nowadays security is the most important thing, especially with data and the fact that everything is done through the Internet, emails and all-important documents are also e, sign, et cetera, et cetera. So, I understand when you mentioned the security being so important now, talking about building the data center, when we decide the location of the data center, how do we choose what the location should be? And also, before you answer that, is it an important if we choose the right location or not?
Vita: Well, technically, data center can be built anywhere as long as you have power and connectivity for it. But the location can have an impact on the quality of service that customers get. So yeah, like planning the location is also like an element of successful data center.
Karellys: Got it. Okay. Well, those are pretty good important topics.
Vita: Actually. Even nowadays there are have been some plans to build data centers underwater. And I remember in 2021 in China, they have started on a project of underwater data center.
Karellys: Wow. I can only imagine what kinds of cables and what kind of systems they have to use in order to make this functionable and secure, actually, being that it's going to be underwater, all the risks about it. So, speaking of particular cases, but in general, what are the type of cables and why are cables so important for data centers?
Vita: Everything is important in data centers, not just cable, but all the hardware or all the cooling equipment. But cables are particularly important because they power data centers and keep the operations in data centers running. So, like speaking metaphorically, we can say that cables are the arteries of data center operations.
Karellys: Right. All the information is transferred through them. And it's like what brings energy to the modems to every little object that's used in the data center. That's interesting. Or if you can tell me maybe right off your head, what are some of the most popular cables used and why?
Vita: Yeah, sure. So, there are cables that are used in data centers can be divided into two categories. The first one is the cables that are used for powering data centers. And the second category is the communication cables that send information in data centers. You can get power cables. The most popular ones are, perhaps THHN and XHHW. These are the most popular because they are versatile and efficient and they may be on the budget, so they're not very expensive for what they do. And basically, you can use them for anything property related in data centers, they are all purpose and they perform well in very different conditions. That's why people tend to choose these types of cables more often than others. They are basically used almost interchangeably. But THHN is cable with the thermoplastic insulation, and XHHW is a thermoset product. So, there may be some differences in the use that are related to that. For example, XHHW has a wider temperature range and it's also more flexible but basically you can just go with any of those two and power your data center and you'll be all right.
Karellys: So, in terms of power in the data center, it comes to what the customer feels or what the customer wants at that point and what's important to them in terms of money and utility?
Vita: Well, yeah, you can say that. Okay. You can use different cables for power. These two are just like the most popular because they meet all the goals at once. But also, other power cables that may be used in data centers, for example, type W cables. Also tray cables are often used because sometimes in data center you have to use tray systems as you don't have enough of space. And tray systems also work well because they can give you instant access to cables in case you need some emergency maintenance or the cable needs to be repaired. Also type DGC cables can be used for power if you need grounding. So yeah, these are the most popular types, but the first ones I mentioned, THHN and XHHW are like the most popular.
Karellys: Yeah, got it, perfect. And then you mentioned another type of important cables, one for communication, is that right?
Vita: Yes, that's right.
Karellys: We talked about the power cables, the power cables that are used to, I guess power the entire data center. But what about the communication cables? Which ones are the most popular ones and let's say what differentiates them from the rest?
Vita: So basically, there are fiber optic cables that are used for communication and also standard Ethernet cables that are also used for communications, and there are a lot of differences between the two but both of them are used widely in modern data centers.
Karellys: The Ethernet is kind of like the same one that we use at home from the router to the computer?
Vita: Yeah, but basically if we take, if we compare homes to data centers, maybe you can allow to use older generation of internet cable like maybe CAT5 or CAT5E. But in data centers they usually use the most efficient ones, cables that have the highest bandwidth, so more modern generations maybe get eight.
Karellys: Got it, I understand. Okay, that's interesting. Is Ethernet cable preferred over fiber cable in data center or they're used depending on the utility?
Vita: No, neither is preferred and actually fiber optics have their benefits. Sometimes they're even more popular, but they are thinner and lighter and also have a reduced band radio. They are better at preventing airflow blockage. They also faster and safer and have better electromagnetic interference resistance. It's also easier to test them and they save space. But we still cannot use fiber optic cables in all data centres because they are like very expensive and not all owners of data centres can allow themselves to run exclusively on fiber optics. And maybe like hyper scale data centres, they mostly use hyper optics. But if we are talking like just regular data centres, if someone sets up so people are more likely to use a combination of fiber optics.
Karellys: That's interesting to know. I remember back in the days when the Internet was being more accessible at home, we would use the Ethernet cable. This is, I'd say, I don't know, more than 20 years ago. And nowadays, even from the communication poll from the outside, from whatever main device all these internet companies use, the most used cable is fiber optics. Is it because it's more resistant? Is it because the data, in a sense is faster, it's more efficient? Why is it used more for the, like, outside than it is used maybe inside homes, do you know?
Vita: Yeah, basically, like fiber optic cables are faster over long distances. That's why they are most efficient. They are like the fastest data cables we have right now. That's why Internet companies use them. So, if you take ethernet cable, it's a standard cable with a copper wire that transmits data with electrical impulses and fiber optics, it is a cable that uses light to carry information. That's why it's very fast and it makes sense for Internet companies to use fiber optics. And it also makes sense to use fiber optics in data centers, but sometimes you just don't have the budgets.
Karellys: Yeah, right. Interesting. So, what is the lifespan of a high-quality data center? Does it change if you use, let's say, like we were discussing about fiber optics and Ethernet, we talked that fiber optics are a little bit more expensive. Of course, they have better qualities than the Ethernet cables. But does it also have any effect on how long the data center is going to keep its quality, as opposed to us using a combination of both or it doesn't affect anything?
Vita: No, I don't think that the type of cable you use affects the lifespan of your data center. It's more like the quality of everything you use and like the way you manage your data center. These two factors have an impact on the lifespan of data center. But you can use different types of cables. As long as they are high quality and they fit the requirements, you can use any of the recommended ones. As for the lifespan of a data center, there have been one study on behalf of Dell Technologies. It suggests that the average life span of data center is about ten years. It's a long, but if we like talking hyper scale data centers, and it can even be longer, like up to 20, maybe 20, 25 or 30. But if we just take a standard regular data center, then maybe 10 to 15 is closer to the truth. And like, the payback period for data center, if you establish one, is like about three, four years. So, like, if your data center survives for five years, it makes it a worthy investment.
Karellys: Okay, that's good to know. What are a few tips on managing a data center? What are the most important things? Just a couple that you can tell us about what care do we need to take in order to elongate the life of the devices used in this data center?
Vita: Wow. So, it's always like, prevention is key, so you have to have everything planned beforehand. And the most important thing is to invest in high quality cables only. Like, do not use any sketchy cables or equipment. They don't have to be the most expensive ones, but they have to pass all regulations and be of a high quality. In this case, you have a high chance that your data center will succeed. Also, another tip is probably to use only structured cabling. So, cabling in data centers can be structured and unstructured. Structured is when you have a planned approach to installing cable in a building. And if the cable isn't structured, you basically just add cables whenever you need them without any predetermined scheme. And it may be like, not good in terms of efficiency. So structured is key. Also, you need to have data center cabling plan and just the overall plan of all the equipment before you launch a data center. And when your data center is already running, you also need to test it all the time and do certification when necessary. Also, every type of equipment in your data center should be up to standard. So, you need to check international, national, state standards before setting up data center. And with these tips, you are guaranteed to have a successful data center for years to come.
Karellys: Right. Vita, thank you very much for all the information and for taking the time to answer all our questions today about data center. I hope we can have you again on the show and maybe we can get more questions about different topics that we can use your expertise on.
Vita: Yes, thank you. It was an exciting conversation, and I hope to meet you soon for other topics.
Karellys: Thank you. So, guys, there you have it. It's important to plan. It's important to do research before you start constructing a data center or even implementing any knowledge that you might think you have on making a data center work. If you want to get the money you invested on the data center, please make sure that you take care of it. You plan ahead and you do your research. So, Vita will be coming off to the show in order to help us solve some of the questions you might have. And just don't hesitate to leave your questions on any of our platforms. We're on Instagram. We're on Facebook. We're on Twitter. You can find us at www.nassaunationalcable.com Just leave your questions. Also, don't forget to like and subscribe so that you don't miss any of our future shows and see you soon. Let's keep the conversation going. Bye.