A meet-me room is a physical area, usually within a data center, that provides a connection to the outside world. It is a secure, 24/7 space where carrier services are made available to the rest of the facility. In smaller data centers, the meet-me room may be little more than a demarcation point, although it can be large enough to house cages for many different carriers. Redundancies will be in place according to each data center requirement, and sometimes a duplicate meet-me room may even exist.
Meet-me rooms offer advantages for both network carriers and the data center operator:
- Carriers can offer services that take advantage of the data center infrastructure without needing access to the highly secure areas inside. If the conditions are not suitable for the carrier to stay, they may leave the facility and take their customers to other data centers with them.
- The data center is much more attractive to potential customers. The meet-me room allows total control over the data center environment, ensuring the same levels of security and continuity for the whole installation. In addition to being attractive to carriers, it provides a wide choice of service providers to customers, with very low exposure risk for the client’s space and internal network.
There are two ways of connecting the equipment that belongs to customers and service providers. The first approach uses direct cables from a patch panel in the carrier rack inside the meet-me room to the patch panel in the customer rack, and is referred to as the point-to-point or interconnect cabling method. The second approach uses demarcation frames in the meet-me room that play the role of a demarcation point, and is called the cross-connect cabling method.
Interconnect methods offer lower losses compared to cross-connect as they contain fewer optical connections. They require less material and are therefore usually cheaper to deploy than cross-connect methods, which results in savings in CAPEX. However, such methods may expose active equipment ports, because they require more reconnection patch cords. And it can be difficult to keep the installation neat and organised over an extended period of time.
Cross-connect methods provide a dedicated area for moves, adds and changes that:
- avoids the exposure of active devices
- allows excellent port identification
- keeps the installation neat and organised for longer
- preserves the infrastructure despite any changes made by customers and carriers / Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
- provides lower OPEX
Cross-connect methods are recommended by HUBER+SUHNER.
Some meet-me rooms may act as an internet exchange point (IX or IXP). An IXP is a place where carriers meet to peer their data networks and hand off traffic. An IXP enables many other entities, such as content providers and social media platforms, to be connected in order to lower overall transit costs for high volumes of data traffic and to enhance network performance, speed and reliability. The optical cross-connect frame in the meet-me room becomes the physical core element of the internet network.
In some cases, it is not possible for the data center owner to provide dedicated space for the meet-me room. In this case, the data center will have a demarcation point, e. g. carriers are placed in cages inside the data center area as if they were customers. However, they must still be connected to other cages to provide other tenants with access to the outside. A demarcation point is one or multiple racks that are dedicated to interconnecting cages belonging to providers with cages belonging to tenants. Although doing this directly may seem easier in the beginning, it can become difficult to manage over time due to Moves, Adds and Changes (MACs).