Smart IoT infrastructural considerations in modern DCs, buildings

 Industry forecasts on the exponential growth of connected devices and sensors, known as the Internet of Things (IoT), range between 20 billion and as high as 200 billion by 2020. Despite the wide disparity in estimates, what the analysts generally agree on is that the IoT is fast becoming an influential disrupter, transforming the way buildings, facilities and other physical sites are maintained or managed and the way employees perform in the workplace.

The connected sensors and devices generate huge amounts of data that, with analysis, can provide real-time insights into the physical environment and how humans are interacting within it.

The challenge for the modern data center in accommodating these huge data flows is to then provide improved efficiency and capacity, comments James Young, director of CommScope’s Data Center Practice in Asia Pacific. “There will need to be plenty of servers available to process the data and support all ongoing conversations. Proximity of the data center will reduce the cost and latency of the IoT and enable real-time IoT applications.”

IoT success factors

Data collection is the first part of the equation,” suggests David Tanis, director of Strategic Enterprise Marketing at CommScope. “Sensors need to be deployed to gather data and can include temperature, humidity, occupancy, light levels and a whole host of other data points. [Wired and wireless] connectivity is key to ensuring that sensors and devices can send data. Managing the connectivity can be greatly simplified with the use of an Automated Infrastructure Management (AIM) system.”

To support emerging and future IoT applications, organizations could adopt a physically defined connectivity grid approach based on industry-standard Category 6A cabling that delivers the capacity required when next-generation unlicensed 802.11ad Wi-Fi and licensed in-building distributed antenna systems (DAS) are deployed to support the coming wave of IoT devices and data. As Tanis points out, “even the traffic from the myriad of IoT sensors that connect wirelessly will still reach a wired network in the form of a wireless access point or IoT gateway.”

Equally ideal as the medium for LAN backbones or storage area networks are new technologies such as Wideband Multimode Fiber (WBMMF), which, in conjunction with Shortwave WDM (SWDM) systems, uses multiple wavelengths between 850mn and 950 nm to increase the capacity of fiber by a factor of four. The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) TR-42.12 subcommittee approved the ANSI/TIA-492-AAAE standard, which specifies WBMMF, in June 2016.

“We’ve taken steps to reinvent the way fiber optic cabling works to enable more data capacity support over existing fiber networks,” Young adds. “This is crucial to helping data center owners and operators meet data demand, both now and in the future. Businesses will look to IoT for leaps in efficiency and competitive positioning.”

And with more IoT data and processing expected and associated challenges in bringing content and workloads closer to consumers at the network edge, data centers have to focus on the effective use of cooling and IT equipment. Here, the Power over Ethernet standards is a viable option for providing both network communication and power to remote IP-enabled IoT devices, such as surveillance cameras, intelligent Wi-Fi access points and systems with integrated heating and motion detection technology.

Meanwhile, AIM systems will be important to the deployment and management of IoT devices by providing the missing link between network or data center management tools and the physical infrastructure that connects them. The systems document what IoT device or sensor is connected to the network, how it is connected and where it is located.

The imminent publication of the global ISO/IEC 18598 standard will spur AIM adoption by defining an integrated hardware and software system that:

  • Automatically detects the insertion or removal of cords

  • Documents the cabling infrastructure including connected equipment, devices and sensors

  • Enables management of the infrastructure and data exchange with other systems

These capabilities drastically reduce the time to establish connections and implement changes to the physical infrastructure and automatically detect and document any changes to the connectivity information. The AIM systems make the accurate real-time connectivity information available to energy, security and other asset management platforms so organizations can gain the insights to develop policies for process automation, risk mitigation and improved infrastructure efficiency and agility.

NG Bailey, one of the UK’s leading engineering, IT and facilities services company, have deployed CommScope’s imVision AIM system to deliver hot desk services, tailored managed services, and detailed reporting to their clients.

“imVision is a very important product for those organizations that try to drive operational efficiencies in the network infrastructure,” says Indi Singh Sall, technical director at NG Bailey. “With the Internet of Everything, more and more devices are going to be embedded into the network and into the building. So, the location of those devices and what they’re doing is going to be important to building owners, managers and departments that manage these assets.”

The capabilities of the imVision AIM system are enhanced by CommScope’s Quareo physical layer management solution, which integrates the patented Connection Point ID (CPID) technology into the connectors of CommScope’s copper and fiber patch cords.

The embedded data on the CPID chip – such as connector style, cable length, media type and connector insertion count – enables network managers to address issues of unplanned network downtime and to view, manage and audit the physical layer the same way they do for higher layers of the network.

CommScope’s imVision and Quareo exemplify practical applications of the IoT that unlock the value of data gathered from connected devices and sensors to ensure proper planning, design, operation and management of highly efficient data centers and buildings. The impact of the IoT will then make quality of service across wired and wireless network infrastructure an even greater factor for business competitive advantage.

This is a QuestexAsia feature commissioned by CommScope.