First, let’s answer your question: What is a meet-me room? And why do we call it something that sounds like a commercial office space where your boss is likely to deliver unwelcome news?
The “me” suggests you’re meeting an actual person for an intense discussion about why the monthly forecast is falling behind the required revenue stream. In reality, the meet-me room, or MMR for short (because we all love an acronym), is the place where telecom meets the technological Milky Way.
The meet-me room (MMR) is typically found with the data center, both co-location and owner operated. It provides a managed and secure space for interconnection of carrier services to the facility and owner’s internal network.
If you can envision the MMR as Cape Canaveral, with unlimited destinations when propelled into the atmosphere, that’s pretty much what the MMR provides for owners looking to connect to the outside world.
An MMR is a 24/7 environment for interconnection, housing a distribution exchange for predominantly Fiber Optic services but also coaxial and twisted pair services when required. The MMR provides a space where carrier equipment can reside without the carrier needing to gain access to highly secured client real estate, therefore reducing risk exposure to the client’s space and internal network.
If you don’t get the MMR right, you don’t get the possibilities of the Milky Way. It’s literally what connects the internet together. To the moon and back? Well, that’s just not going to cut it anymore!
So, leaving the tangent of the solar system behind, let’s discuss the MMR’s function and good design practices.
What You Need to Know About Designing the MMR
The MMR is typically divided into two and sometimes three zones. It is important to understand these zones so we do not get confused about the set-up.
1. Cross-Connect, or MDF
The first zone, which will sit nearer to the owner network side, is the cross-connect — more commonly known as the MDF (Main Distribution Frame). This is the typical connection point for carriers to the owner circuits, and provides a managed environment for connectivity. In most MMRs this passive space is separated from the carrier space and would be managed by the facility engineers. This is not always the case, but certainly in a colocation environment securing and reducing risk at the cross-connect should be a fundamental part of design.
2. Rack Space
The next zone is provided for the carrier racks. This is where carrier-incoming services are managed and distributed. This zone typically provides rack space for carriers to mount their equipment or provides for the space for carriers to deploy their own rack systems. When designing this zone it is important to understand how many carriers are likely to deploy within the data center, the expected kWh load for their equipment, required airflow, and the fiber counts the carriers intend to deploy to support the facility.
3. Entrance Facility
The final zone which may or may not be within the MMR space is the EF (Entrance Facility). If your MMR location is positioned on an external wall, it is most likely space will be required for an EF. This is the point where external cables enter the building, and with external cables comes external ducts. Designing this zone is extremely important. Not only are bonding regulations stringent for incoming services but you need to think about external ducts’ favorite friend and the MMRs worst nightmare: water! The two do not mix well for obvious reasons, so designing the EF is key to a successful space.
Additional Design Considerations
Another important consideration when designing the MMR is security. How do you want to make your MMR secure? Who will be granted access, and at what level will the access be granted? All security measures should be considered at different levels, from IP Cameras to biometrics at room and rack level. There are many options, but the main consideration is that the security fits the profile of the customer services it is protecting.
We should also consider latency. Minimal connection points improve service; however, not providing managed connection points for the infrastructure will also increase the risk of poor cabling practices and overloading conveyance systems. This is the homerun versus structured cabling debate (which could itself be a whole other blog). Essentially, minimal performance gains can potentially increase downtime in the future due to poor practice and overloading. This needs clear direction as future refurbishment projects are challenging and time-consuming to complete, i.e. costly. If we can avoid such projects with good initial design practices then we should strive to do so.
Other considerations would include:
- How many MMRs are required for redundancy: two, three, or even four?
- The location of the MMRs and associated risers/routes to client space.
- Internal containment systems to connect the zones and client space.
- A clear administration system for conveyance and cabling.
- Ensuring codes are met and standards are achieved.
Choose Your Crew
The final consideration has to be the MMR designer. Yes, we are just as important as the design itself. To arrive at a well thought-out design that is both compliant to code as well as to owners’ and carrier expectations, the designer needs to have a fundamental understanding of what the client is trying to achieve, an understanding of what a good and bad design looks like, and the budget with which the client is trying to achieve utopia. Not to mention an understanding of designing in conjunction with other disciplines and the limitations of what the environment can provide.
In conclusion, the Milky Way is not that far away at all, as long as you have the right crew and vehicle to get you there!