Network engineers in data center


Prepare for Growing Demand with a Future-Proof Network

Demand for data center services continues to skyrocket. Consumer services such as social media and high-speed streaming continue to see strong growth, while enterprises must support large numbers of remote workers and advanced applications. McKinsey expects data center demand to reach 35 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, up from 17GW in 2022.

To satisfy these demands, data center operators must address four interrelated challenges. First, they must increase capacity while optimizing their physical footprint. This requires an increase in cabinet density. Second, they must maximize uptime by increasing redundancy and ensuring proper cooling. Third, they must minimize environmental impacts to meet sustainability goals. And finally, they must ensure that their network infrastructure can scale and adapt to changing needs.

Many data center operators find that a future-proof network infrastructure forms the foundation for addressing all four challenges. This article will discuss how SYSTIMAX Propel, CommScope’s modular, fiber connectivity platform, delivers the performance data centers need today with a scalable design that streamlines future upgrades.

Increasing Capacity Requires Greater Density

Data center rack density has increased rapidly in recent years. AFCOM’s 2023 State of the Data Center Report found that the highest average rack density increased 20 percent in 2022. Furthermore, 60 percent of survey respondents expected continued increases over the next 12 to 36 months. Some large data centers already support rack densities of 40kW to as much as 200kW.

Increased density answers the need to increase capacity within limited space. However, it raises other questions. How will the data center manage the thermal load that comes with greater density? Can the network infrastructure deliver the bandwidth to support additional server capacity? How will network upgrades impact sustainability objectives?

Meeting Higher Bandwidth Demands

The need for greater bandwidth is accelerating the adoption of 400G and even 800G technologies. According to 650 Research Group, 100G Ethernet port shipments are leveling off as 400G continues to ramp up and 800G ramps up even faster.

Higher switching speeds come with greater port densities, making it possible to support more device connections with fewer switches. By reducing the number of switches, data centers can reduce CAPEX costs and cooling demands while improving performance through lower latency. As an added benefit, fewer switches mean less steel, plastic, cardboard and packing material is consumed.

The migration to 400G/800G also makes it possible to eliminate top-of-rack switches and move to a middle-of-row or end-of-row configuration. This architecture further reduces latency, enables greater redundancy and streamlines management. However, the move to 400G/800G involves several considerations.

The IEEE 802.3cm standard for 400G using multimode fiber defines new optic modules and structured cabling. Data centers need to double the density of transceivers by adopting new form factors and connectors. The transition to octal deployments requires 16-fiber technologies to eliminate stranded capacity. A flexible design approach is needed to ensure scalability and support for future high-speed applications as standards continue to evolve.

Enabling an Incremental Approach

For some data centers, the move to 400G/800G may be inevitable but not immediate. In many cases, these data centers still leverage 1GbE and 10GbE connections. Migration to 100G makes it possible to quadruple network capacity to support 75 percent greater rack density. But how can these data centers protect their existing investments while preparing for the future?

By taking advantage of 16-fiber technology today, data centers can easily migrate from 10G to 100G to 200G and higher without the need to install new fiber-optic cabling and connectivity. This configuration lowers capital investment by reducing the number of trunk cables required. It also allows for more efficient installation than older architectures, enabling data centers to turn up additional capacity faster.

The denser design provides greater capacity per square foot, freeing up white space for future expansion. Data centers can also improve cooling efficiency and better support sustainability objectives by reducing the raw materials consumed.

Modular Design, Simplified Management

As capacity requirements continue to increase, data centers must develop a network infrastructure roadmap that allows for greater bandwidth today and investment protection for the future. The network architecture should enable rapid implementation and greater agility to meet changing demands. It should also keep CAPEX and OPEX costs in check while minimizing environmental impacts.

CommScope’s SYSTEMAX Propel solution checks all the boxes. The Propel fiber platform leverages SYSTIMAX cabling for high-speed, ultra-low-loss connectivity. Its modular design supports eight-, 12-, 16- and 24-fiber cabling for the ultimate in flexibility. Multiple connector options and interchangeable adapters, modules, and fiber assemblies simplify modifications and upgrades.

Propel also provides simplified cable management to support networks that evolve across multiple upgrades. Front and rear panel access enables faster moves, adds and changes with fewer errors.

Built for Scalability and Performance

Propel is designed for high-density environments. Three slide-out blades fit in just 1RU of space, with 12 slots per blade. That equates to 72 duplex LC connectors per RU. Each blade can support different combinations of modules and interfaces. Modules can be added or changed in seconds. True eight- and 16-fiber application-based modules mean there’s no stranded capacity.

Every component is manufactured according to exacting standards to ensure ultra-low-loss performance. Additionally, the SYSTIMAX Fiber Performance Calculator enables designers to plan and design optical channels with the confidence that they will meet loss requirements. Data center operators gain the peace of mind that comes with CommScope’s 25-year extended product warranty and performance guarantee.

Propel’s modular approach and extended product lifecycle support sustainability goals. Its eco-friendly packaging also reduces waste.


Demand for increased capacity is driving greater data center rack density. That in turn is accelerating the migration to 400G/800G network technology to satisfy the need for greater bandwidth. CommScope’s SYSTIMAX Propel has a modular, scalable design that meets today’s performance, manageability and sustainability requirements with a simple path to future upgrades. It’s a future-proof approach that enables rapid deployment, greater flexibility and investment protection.

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This article was brought to you in partnership with CommScope.
CommScope designs, manufactures, installs, and supports the hardware infrastructure and software intelligence that enable our digital society to interact and thrive. Working with customers, they advance broadband, enterprise and wireless networks to power progress and create lasting connections.


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