The data center market continues to grow, and there are ample opportunities for electrical work within a data center. One of the obvious and ongoing concerns within a data center is heat, which greatly affects a data center’s operations and energy costs.

“The amount of heat generated by data center equipment and the corresponding energy load expended on cooling the active equipment is a growing concern for IT and facilities managers,” said Bradford Eaton, product marketing manager, Wiremold/Legrand. That concern is further fueled by budget constraints and mounting energy costs.

“As port densities increase and the consolidation of blade servers becomes more prevalent, the heat generated in equipment racks will simultaneously increase. Managing this heat effectively with proper airflow is a cornerstone of energy-efficient design,” Eaton said.

Today’s data center has faster servers, more equipment and a focus on virtualization. These trends also are increasing needs for better cable management. Many contractors have worked in that area. Those with experience are well aware that data centers can easily turn into cabling nightmares based on infrastructure alone, and they are a hotbed of various kinds of wiring and cabling.

Designing right is key

Data centers depend on proper design for infrastructure and operational needs.

“The right connectivity infrastructure is essential,” Eaton said. “It’s the thread that holds together the fabrics of the data center, turning islands of hardware into a seamless tool strategic to business success. It needs to support high data rates to 10 gigabits per second, provide easy management, and be capable of remaining flexible enough to allow easy configuration and provisioning for optimal delivery of applications and services.”

There are data center specific systems, offered by companies such as Cooper B-Line, Hubbell Premise Wiring, Legrand North America (Cablofil/Legrand, Ortronics/Legrand, Wiremold/Legrand), Leviton Network Solutions, Panduit and Snake Tray. These systems contribute to sustainable data centers by providing cable management solutions and advanced racking solutions to help facilitate cooling efficiency and reduce network down time, as power and cooling issues remain big issues within such power-intensive environments.

Specific solutions include a wire mesh cable tray that allows for overhead or under floor cable routing and enables better airflow than solid conduit. This particular option is relevant since aiding and enhancing airflow is crucial to cooling concerns. Some companies that make this type of product include, but are not limited to, Cablofil, Panduit and Snake Tray.

Another solution is overhead cable pathway racks, which, according to Eaton, “provide cable management and an innovative mounting method for … rack-mount copper and fiber panels and cabinets, freeing up valuable rack space and facilitating better airflow.”

The type of enclosure also can assist with the management of cabling. For example, Wiremold/Legrand offers integrated zone cabling enclosures that save space and increase flexibility by providing connectivity within raised floor applications.

Leviton Network Solutions offers adaptable, easy-to-install cable management products that include Versi-Duct slotted duct, Spectro-Link fiber raceway, and frame and rack solutions.

Another solution is to put the cabling under the floor. Under-floor systems, such as Snake Tray’s Snake Canyon line, assist with existing access floors. This modular cable tray system instantly integrates with the existing structural elements of the access floor, regardless of which raised floor model was installed.

Contractors’ knowledge is important

Since data centers are high-density installations that usually require a variety of interdependent products to support the cabling infrastructure, contractors should look for a supplier that offers a full range of cable management solutions. This, in turn, helps contractors in providing the most relevant solution for each individual project.

“Racks of servers and storage, handling petabytes of data, fulfill mission-critical needs by providing instantaneous access to information,” Eaton said. “The complexities of modern data centers and storage networks create challenges in topology, throughput, data integrity, enhanced security, redundancy and environmental controls.”

There seems to be no end in sight in terms of data centers and their growing popularity. As more businesses across virtually all markets find their data and communication needs rising, they are turning to data centers to help funnel and support such activity.

“The future will see skyrocketing data transfers, a seemingly unquenchable thirst for bandwidth, and the need to support new services,” Eaton said. “Creating a resilient, agile data center requires robust, reliable user-to-server, server-to-server, and server-to-storage connections.”

Many manufacturers are addressing cable management solutions. Be sure to do your research before taking a data center job.

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at JenLeahS@msn.com.