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White Paper

Technical White Papers

Network Design for Greenfield Data Centers

When building a network for a new data center, there are a myriad of options to consider: distance requirements, transceiver types, multimode or single-mode optics, link loss budgets, and infrastructure costs. This white paper will cover these key considerations and prepare your network infrastructure for the future.


11 pages | File Type: Adobe PDF | Size: 1.8 MB


In recent years, we have witnessed economic volatility due to the global pandemic, but the data center market remained largely unaffected. Demand for supporting digital business infrastructure never wavered, and while some new data center construction slowed initially, 2021 saw robust expansion. In primary data center markets in North America, new data center construction at the midpoint of 2021 was up 42% year-over-year, with 527 megawatts of capacity under construction, according to the North American Data Center Trends Report from the CBRE Group, Inc. Much of the new global data center or “greenfield” construction comes from hyperscale cloud providers and colocation data centers expanding their regional footprints, or new construction in regions of the world where there is less existing infrastructure in place.

With a greenfield project, network designers may be starting from scratch with only an empty room or even just a concrete foundation. This means that there will be a significantly higher up-front investment required compared to updating an existing network, but there is an opportunity to create the right network architecture from the start since there are fewer existing impediments when making technology and design choices. The only real constraints in these projects are size, power, and money. That differs from brownfield data center upgrades, which face added constraints from the network infrastructure in place, such as the existing cable type or cabling layout. Brownfield upgrades can also be more constrained by time since updates to an operating data center may involve network disruption and downtime.

When data center operators begin the process of defining the makeup of their network, there are some important practical design questions they need to answer, including general architecture and distance needs, data rate requirements, fiber types, and cost. This article will address these and other key considerations.