Structured cabling is the urgent need of modern data centers. The present day data center experts strive for easy reconfigurability and omnipresence of the data hubs. The networks at data centers are exposed to frequent upgradations, movements and additions to facilitate the changing demands of the end users. Thus, to make a structured cabling happen, the experts make use of a fiber patch panel. The patch panels facilitate end-to-end connectivity amongst devices using simple patch cords. These fiber distribution panels are basically an organized hub of ports where each port represents servers, switch or a storage device; the area where patch panel resides is known as Main Distribution Area (MDA).

Common Types of Fiber Patch Panels Used in Data Centers
Experts are expected to deploy flexible data center connections that make the processes of maintenance, upgradation as well as expansion as easy as possible. Since the fiber patch panel offers a common connecting interface where switches or inter-connecting devices are linked with each other through connectors like LC, MTP, MTP-LC etc, the set-up at the core comprises of LC adapters, MTP adapter panels or MTP-LC fiber optic cassettes or panels.

  • LC Patch Panel – You may find this panel mostly named as LC-LC module where trunk cables with LC terminations are used for connections between hardware and connecting equipment with LC connectors. It is known to be the best in performance as connector loss offered is the smallest in magnitude. Some variants of these panels are wall-mounted and have 6-port Cat6 Outlet earning it the name Cat6 patch panel.
  • MTP Patch Panel – A high density panel capable of supporting MTP trunk cable connections comprising of 8-12 fibers. At the maximum, in a pre-determined set-up, 12 MTP connections each comprising of 12 fibers i.e. total of 144 fibers at one time can be plugged on to an MTP Patch panel.
  • MTP-LC Patch Panel – It can rightly be called a hybrid patch panel where connections are possible between two types of connectors over a cassette. This patch panel is ideal solution for the data centers moving from 10G to 40G speeds. These data centers can make use of existing infrastructure by this cabling interface solution that can convert MTP trunk cables to LC connections. The LC connectors are in front and MTP connectors occupy the rear of this panel.

How to make Fiber Patch Panels Connections in Data Centers
As explained in the diag. below, 1 patch panel rack unit is shown to provide support for LC, MTP, as well as MTP-LC adapter/ patch panels. These panels have provision for supporting trunk cables that end in MPO or LC connectors. To establish the connection, the trunk cable is plugged into the back of the module and MPO/LC cords fit into its front. Such arrangement is ideal for seamless installation and ensures enhanced scalability.  A standard fiber patch panel with LC connector interfaces can house 36 LC connections per unit. Thus, if this figure is augmented over a 42RU rack stuffed with such panels, one can create over 1500 LC ports, offering the much needed high density in the data center.

How Fiber Patch Panels are Employed in Data Centers

A typical data center uses four patch panel links made from two trunk cables emanating from the MDA. The four patch panel link features three patch cords, two trunk cables that fit into the four patch panels. A patch cord is utilized in MDA to create a port-to-port connection in the MDA. And another pair of patch cords is needed at either end of the link that ultimately terminates into an optical module. One trunk cable can be linked to the two ports of MDA on either sides, thus, four  patch panels completes the link with two trunk cables.

Things to consider while choosing a patch panel for the data center

If you take into account the points mentioned below while selecting a patch panel, you can achieve a future-ready data center without creating a pile of components, and fewer instances of maintenance schedules.

 

  • The patch panel should have ample space between ports to enable easy insertion and removal,
  • Check for the tightness of connectors else they may pop out during installation of cables
  • The top and bottom rows of cable clips should be facing outwards. This orientation can be checked for validity with the help of patch cords.
  • High traffic supporting data center patch panels should have dust cover for ports
  • Compatibility with the rack should be checked before installation
  • Front of the fiber adapter plates should have ample label space for more correct identification
  • The patch panel should be able to support 24 or 48 port density per unit
  • Not to forget, it should be compatible with the racks and connectors
  • Since expansion and addition are the basic requirements of changing demands at data center, don’t forget to look for additional cable support at the back of the panel.

Conclusion

A structured cabling infrastructure is made of three types of patch panels – LC, MTP and MTP-LC. All these patch panels are in great demand because of their compatibility with wide array of devices and hardware equipment. These are able to create high density by connecting thousands of ports with minimum numbers of trunk cables. Patch panels support easy deployment and added flexibility without requiring multitude of components, thereby, helping the experts achieve time relevant as well future-ready data centers. You can find more about the patch panels by logging to www.cozlink.com where the finest quality fiber patch panels are made according to the industrial standards and supplied on easier terms.