Comprehensive Guide for Data Center Distribution Area Connectivity

Updated on Jun 5, 2023

Within data centers, the distribution areas serve as a pivotal hub for efficient network connectivity. This comprehensive guide aims to provide an in-depth understanding of data center distribution areas like MDA, and EDA and the benefits of proper data center cabling design, helping to maintain highly efficient and reliable distribution area connectivity.

Five Distribution Areas in Data Center Cabling

According to the TIA-942 standard, a data center structured cabling infrastructure always includes five key functional distribution areas: Entrance Room (ER), Main Distribution Area (MDA), Horizontal Distribution Area (HDA), Zone Distribution Area (ZDA), Equipment Distribution Area (EDA).

  • ER is the interface between the ISP/telecommunication provider and the data center structured cabling, which houses the demarcation hardware.

  • MDA serves as the primary hub for data center cabling, acting as the central point for connecting incoming network links and distributing them to various areas within the data center. It typically houses essential components like core LAN/SAN switches, routers, and power distribution units (PDUs).

  • HDA refers to the horizontal cross-connect cabling infrastructure that extends from the MDA to the network equipment located in each individual data center rack. It is the main transition point between the backbone and horizontal cabling, enabling connectivity between the MDA and the active equipment (servers, mainframes, storage devices).

  • ZDA focuses on connectivity within a specific zone or section of the data center. It is used in large computer rooms that need additional configuration flexibility, responsible for linking the equipment within a zone to the HDA. The ZDA houses only passive equipment.

  • EDA is the main server area where the racks and cabinets are located.

key functional distribution areas

How to Make Good Cabling for Data Center Distribution Area

The areas mentioned above act as central points for network distribution, ensuring seamless connectivity between various components. Here are three main best practices to consider when designing data center cabling:

Cable Selection and Installation

Choosing the appropriate cables for each distribution area is crucial to ensure optimal performance. Consider factors such as bandwidth requirements, transmission distances, and environmental conditions. Proper installation techniques, including maintaining the recommended bend radius and addressing cable length considerations, are essential to prevent signal degradation and maintain signal integrity. Copper cables with higher bandwidth, such as Cat6, Cat6a, and Cat7, are commonly used for applications of 10GBASE-T, and Cat8 for 25 Gbps or 40Gbps, while fiber optic cables like OS2 and OM3/OM4/OM5 can support up to 100G connections. For detailed information: Pre-terminated Cabling for Data Center Structured Cabling | FS Community.

Cable Management and Organization

Efficient cable management is vital for maintaining a neat and organized distribution area. When selecting a cable management system, it is wise to choose open frames for easy access to data center cabling to ensure easy identification and troubleshooting. Other advanced cable management solutions include fiber cassettes with a modular design to be easily operated, allowing for streamlined maintenance and future upgrades. Learn more: Comprehensive Guide for Fiber Cassettes | FS Community.

Data Center Cable Management

Redundancy and Resilience Measures

To ensure uninterrupted connectivity, redundancy, and resilience measures are crucial. This section covers different options for redundancy, including backup power supplies, diverse network paths, and failover mechanisms. By implementing these measures, data centers can mitigate the risk of downtime and maintain continuous operations.


By understanding the roles and components of each distribution area and implementing best practices, data center operators can ensure optimal performance, scalability, and ease of maintenance. As the demand for data center capabilities continues to grow, advancements in cabling technologies and management solutions are anticipated. FS FHD® MTP® mesh cassettes and MTP® to LC fiber cassettes help stay up-to-date with emerging trends and innovations to maintain an agile and future-ready data center infrastructure. To know more: FS FHD® Series Introduces Four New High-Density MTP Fiber Cassettes | FS Community.

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