Today's data centres have higher demands than ever before, and these requirements show no signs of slowing down any time soon. The need for greater bandwidth and the power and infrastructure that is essential to achieving this means that choosing the right technology solutions is critical.
One option that's increasingly in use is multimode OM5 technology. This is the latest standard for multimode fibre cabling. Designed to work over a wide range of wavelengths, it also supports short wave division multiplexing (SWDM) technology, which helps identify wavelengths and ultimately allow innovators to achieve 40Gbps and 100Gbps speeds using fewer fibre strands than before.
So should you be looking to adopt OM5 in your data centre? Here are a few of the key benefits, as well as some potential issues you need to be aware of.
Pro - Compatibility
Adopting OM5 won't mean you have to rip up and replace all your existing cabling. Because OM5 has the same fibre as previous OM3 and OM4 technologies, it's fully backwards compatible. This means it will be able to support all legacy applications in existing data centre infrastructures, so you can adopt it without making wholesale changes.
Pro - Cost-effectiveness
Cost is always a key consideration for any data centre deployment, but OM5 has been designed to meet these demands. At it uses SWDM technology, the number of fibre cables required for high-speed data transmission is reduced compared to older alternatives, while compared to singlemode fibre cables, multimode technology is more cost-effective, because short reach connections are the norm in most data centres.
Pro - Reach
While most connections within data centres will be fairly short-range, OM5 means you are less restricted than with other options. OM4, for example, is able to support link lengths of up to 100 metres with 100Gbps-SWDM4 transceivers. OM5, meanwhile, can extend this reach to 150 metres with the same types of fibre optic transceivers.
Con - Setup costs
While, as noted above, OM5 can be a highly cost-effective solution in the long term, it may be more pricey to get up and running, as initial costs for the cabling will come with a premium over options such as OM4.
Con - Limited use cases
OM5 may be the future of data centre development, but for now, clear use cases for the technology remain limited, while its advantages over options like OM4 remain evolutionary rather than revolutionary. For this reason, some employers have held off from installing OM5 in their data centres, reasoning that OM4 will still give them the performance they need.
So should you go for OM5?
With these pros and cons in mind, whether to opt for OM5 will be an important decision for data centre deployers. If you need the extra reach, it may well be worth it, while if you're expecting to work with data centres that demand the highest speeds, but have limited space available, OM5's ability to offer high bandwidth in a smaller package may be invaluable.