As companies look to embrace cloud computing or backup their existing data centers, many are evaluating colocation as an option. With this increased demand, colocation data centers are popping up all over the world and becoming a larger part of the overall data center market. In 2013, the colocation sector is expected to account for about 25-percent of the structured-cabling data center market. During the work to develop the structured cabling forecast for the soon to be released Bishop & Associates report, "Structured Cabling Technology and Market Assessment," we had the chance to talk to project managers that are responsible for implementing 10,000 - 20,000 sqft build-outs in colocation facilities. It was clear to us that a few key trends have emerged:
- Whenever possible contractors recommend the use of pre-terminated copper and fiber cabling. The benefits of utilizing these components include cost reduction, on-time delivery and the project is easier to manage.
- Although they are installing MPO cassettes on some jobs the cost premium often scares customers away.
- More OM3 fiber is being installed than OM4. The up-sell to OM4 is difficult since OM3 covers the distances that are typically seen in these facilities (300m at 10G).
- A majority of the copper cabling is being installed is Category 6.
A typical colocation lease averages about eight years. Since the clients don't know what their requirements will be in this timeframe, they are less likely to make decisions that "future-proof" the installation for reuse with upgraded active equipment. Tight budgets further preclude the addition of higher performing cabling products. They would prefer to re-cable in the future than to pay for it now. Since many of these installations are based on Top-of-Rack (ToR) architecture, re-cabling is viewed as a much simpler thing to do than to install new equipment when the cabinets are stuffed full of cabling. In view of this, we project that Category 6A and Category 7 cabling will only see very slow growth and that OM3 will be the mainstay over the next few years.