Data Centre Physical Connectivity Innovation of the Year
Many industry professionals will be familiar with the excruciating, painstaking experience of installing, cleaning and connecting countless fibres – only to have connections fail to meet link-loss standards due to microscopic dirt and debris.
End-face contamination in a fibre optic connector is the most common cause of network failures and data packet corruption. According to Cisco, “Any contamination in the fibre connection can cause failure of the component or failure of the whole system.” To mitigate this risk, operators field-clean connectors prior to installing them. This process, however, is resource-intensive in both labour and cleaning supplies. In addition, current testing standards around the end-face quality of connectors only cover specified “check areas.” Particles outside of those areas can migrate, degrading signal quality without operators being aware.
Data centres with fibre optic-infrastructure have always faced this challenge, with no clear solution beyond the resource-intensive cleaning process - which still lacks 100% effectiveness. How then can operators reclaim time lost to cleaning, while ensuring reliable connector matings and optimal transmission performance?
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To meet this challenge, Corning convened a cross-functional team of engineers, technicians, and scientists, with input from major data centre customers. The result was Corning® CleanAdvantage™ technology, introduced globally in February 2020. Its key capabilities and features include:
Increased network reliability: The technology utilises proprietary cleaning technology for the entire connector ferrule not only the connector end-face, and an optimised dust cap design, to ensure a factory-clean connector remains clean and ready for installation when it arrives on site. The technology is included, at no extra cost, on all MTP® and LC Uniboot connectors within the EDGE™ and EDGE8® structured cabling solutions to ensure that every first-time installation is free of contaminants, increasing network reliability.
Reduced installation time and consumable costs: CleanAdvantage eliminates the need to clean and scope MTP and LC Uniboot connectors prior to the first mating connection. As a result, installation time for customers can be reduced by up to 17 percent and the cost of cleaning consumables (no cleaning pens, cassettes, and wipes are necessary) is cut by up to 95 percent. In doing so, CleanAdvantage enables operators to reclaim time and money, placing them on a faster path to revenue generation.
Easy to handle: Connectors with CleanAdvantage technology are easy to handle, with installation as simple as removing the dust cap and inserting the connector. No specialised training is required, and operators can have confidence in their networks connections regardless of who installed them.
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When it comes to data centre projects, time is money – and operators know they can ill-afford to allow delays in network installation to stand in the way of meeting ever-increasing demands for bandwidth.
Any contamination in a fibre connection can cause failure of a fibre optic component or even the whole system. According to Cisco research , even a 9-micrometre speck (undetectable without a microscope) can completely block the fibre core. There was a critical need from Corning’s customer-base, and the wider industry, for high-quality cleaning solutions that could save time and money and that’s where CleanAdvantage comes in.
CleanAdvantage technology was developed in collaboration with major data centre operators, to enable higher speeds of deployment and greater levels of reliability in their networks. Corning scientists and engineers worked in conjunction with the field technicians who install connectors, ensuring the technology was easily deployed and operated. Instead of wasting time and materials on cleaning connectors prior to their first installation, operators can quickly deploy new capacity, with the knowledge that their network’s link-loss will avoid errors produced by manual field cleaning.
By integrating a new proprietary cleaning technology into the manufacturing process, Corning CleanAdvantage removes complexity and risk from the field, and delivers an easier experience for those involved with data centre installations. For contractors, CleanAdvantage removes tedious initial cleaning and scoping steps from the installation process, enabling them to complete projects up to 17% quicker and cut cleaning consumables by 95%, unlocking additional revenue opportunities. For end-users, CleanAdvantage™ enables faster completion of critical infrastructure projects and minimised risk of downtime for network users.
By reducing cleaning waste, CleanAdvantage also makes data centre operations more sustainable, while eliminating particles which might migrate over a connection’s lifetime.
What are the major differentiators between your product/solution and those of your primary competitors?
Traditional in-the-field cleaning methods include dry cleaning, which typically involves the use of a reel-based cleaner to wipe the connector end-face against a dry-cleaning cloth in one direction to remove airborne contamination. Wet/wet-to-dry cleaning, another popular method to remove airborne contamination and oil residue, sees the connector end-face being wiped against a wet area and then onto a dry area.
While both methods are superior to not cleaning at all they don’t reach the full ferrule of a fibre connector. This is problematic given that, each time the connectors are mated, particles around the core of the fibre stub can be displaced. This can cause them to migrate and spread across the surface of the connector end-face, leading to performance issues.
While there are some other solutions that have sought to solve these problems, they focus on the connector end-face, whereas Corning’s proprietary technology enables a focused and directed cleaning of the entire ferrule. A critical differentiator is also CleanAdvantage’s optimised dust cap which is engineered to maintain a clean end-face until its first mating connection. This means no need for cleaning or visual inspection before the first install – just uncapping and connecting.
Corning offers CleanAdvantage as a standard across its EDGE and EDGE8 data centre solutions portfolio.
Please supply any supportive quotes and/or case study materials to demonstrate the value of this product/solution to your customers/partners.
Anonymous (Corning certified installer that used CleanAdvantage for a recent data centre project for one of the largest German health insurance companies)
“As an installer, it’s our responsibility to ensure that the quality of the installation and the overall optical performance of the network meets the required standards from our end-user. We take a lot of pride in our work and of course from a commercial perspective, we’re held responsible if it isn’t up to standard.
“Using CleanAdvantage for the first time on a recent data centre installation (for one of our biggest clients) really gave us peace of mind. Beyond the ease of use and speed, using CleanAdvantage gave us complete confidence in meeting the SLAs for the installation and assurance that there wouldn’t be any reworks needed after the installation and acceptance test – return loss and link loss value criteria are met right away with CleanAdvantage.
“We’d recommend CleanAdvantage to anyone and think it played an important part in the success of this project.”