Network connectivity has evolved over the last few decades, with the focus shifting from structured cabling to point-to-point cabling. If we were to look at how things panned out, three prominent factors would emerge as instrumental in driving the change—the Internet of Things, mobility, and cloud. They were the catalyst that shifted the focus to wireless connectivity.
However, even though wireless networks are here to stay, it is not the death knell for cabling. Even as requirements continue to evolve and become more dependent on wireless networks, the IT environment will still need cabling support. The reason is that cabling support is long-lasting and more permanent, and hence more dependable. Cabling certainly has a longer serviceable lifespan as compared to the rest of the IT infrastructure.
Therefore, it is vital to distinguish between the basic primary cabling methods before installing them. The basic primary cabling methods being, point-to-point cabling and structured cabling.
When we speak of data networks—both networking and data cabling, we refer to point-to-point cables and structured cables. These cables constitute a company’s IT infrastructure. People often ignore cabling when setting up a business, but how the IT team organises and maintains the cables can significantly impact operations. This article discusses the differences and similarities between the two cabling methods and highlights their best features.
Understanding Point-to-Point Cabling
Point-to-point cabling is a data centre cabling system consisting of jumper fibre cables. These cables directly connect a single switch, server or storage unit to another switch, server or storage unit. The Point-to-point cabling system works well when they have to make only a few connections.it lacks the capacity for handling an increase in the numbers of connections. Simply put, point-to-point cabling does not adapt to change when adding, moving, or modifying data centre infrastructure to support the growth in the data centre’s connections.
A little peep into the data centers’ history reveals that when the first data centers were set up, the end-user terminals were tethered using point-to-point connections. It was a practical choice, back then, as the computer rooms were not very large, and there were no immediate plans for restructuring, either by way of expansion or reconfiguration. However, computing needs grew with time ,new hardware was introduced . The point-to-point connections became a cabling nightmare, leading to undue complexities and cost. It turned out to be a severe flaw in the point-to-point cabling system.
Nonetheless, the point-to-point cabling system did not vanish into oblivion. With the ToR (top of rack) and EoR (end of row) mounting options, point-to-point cabling is seeing a second birth. P2P cables are heavily employed in ToR and EoR equipment placement, which can be expensive if used as a substitute for standards-based structured cabling systems.
Understanding Structured Cabling
Point-to-point cabling has several drawbacks. As a solution, data centre standards, such as ISO 24764 and TIA-942-A, suggested structural cabling—a hierarchical data centre structured cabling infrastructure for connecting equipment.
So, what exactly is structured cabling? Simply put, it is a network of cables, devices and management tools that facilitates the smooth, seamless and uninterrupted flow of security, data, video and voice and wireless communications. Structured cabling uses distribution areas instead of point-to-point links to create standards-based connections within the equipment, for instance, connections between switches and servers or servers and storage devices or between different switches.
This cabling conforms to the standards of the Telecommunication Industry Association (TIA), Electronic Industry Alliance (EIA), an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in respect to five key components, namely design, documentation, maintenance, installation, and system expansion. Structured cabling cuts risks and brings down overhead costs.
Fibre Optic Cables
These cables are among the fastest, smoothest, and most dependable ways to be online. Fiber optic cables are quicker than traditional cables at transferring data online via structured cabling. These cables are successors to the old-fashioned copper cables.
Fibre optic cable manufacturers in the UK list several advantages of fibre optic cables over conventional copper cables. Copper cables were primarily intended for voice transmission and had a limited bandwidth; on the other hand, fibre optic cables have a greater bandwidth. They are also reliable, offer faster speeds, are thinner but robust, travel longer distances and are cost-effective. Fibre optic cables are required to support a structured cabling system.
Point-to-Point and Structured Cabling—an Analysis
Point-to-point cabling has been around for years. In the manufacturing industry, point-to-point cabling essentially created a direct link between machines, automation and control systems. However, the growing number of connections within networks demand has made the system ill-equipped to deliver the efficient results.
Structured cabling delivers on all fronts. It provides what network connections demand, namely outstanding performance, along with adaptability, security, and manageability. Structured cabling supports future innovations, quicker connections and more intelligent networks
Cabling is one of the most critical elements that establishments need for managing data centres. They must embrace technologies that facilitate adaptability and optimal performance. Given all the above considerations, structured cabling scores over point-to-point cabling.