Month: November 2016

3rd-party Optical Transceivers Innovation for Your Bottom Line

With the lightning fast changes of today’s technology, staying on the cutting edge can be a great challenge. A company’s data center and infrastructures have become one of the most strategic assets it owns, and conventional wisdom says that in order to support topline business growth, companies must spend money to make money.

However, this axiom is not true when it comes to optical transceivers. Using 3rd-party optics instead of name brand optics from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) is a smart and innovative way to embrace changes in the dynamic networking and data center hardware markets, while protecting your bottom line by not paying exorbitant prices. This article will briefly explain the value and advantages that 3rd-party optical transceivers provide.

SFP transceiver

Sourcing and Price

Optics that you buy directly from an OEM are not necessarily original. OEMs actually buy their optics from master suppliers who code and label the products for them. An OEM’s price to the customer will factor in the costs of testing and validation, but the majority of what you pay for goes into the OEM’s pocket as pure profit. Third party optics providers source their products from the same (or equivalent) suppliers as used by OEMs. There are numerous third party optics resellers, and they may not all use the same testing procedures, but most have nearly 100% success in compatibility with the corresponding OEM equipment. The real difference between OEM and third party is that third party optics providers do not mark up the product as much as OEMs – which translates into significantly better pricing for the customer.

Quality and Reliability

You can find third party optics for virtually any product or platform. While Cisco comprises a large number of the compatible optics in the networking space, every product that requires a copper or fiber optic connection to another device will need an optic of one type or another. It is very important to ask your third party optics supplier about which OEMs and product lines they specialize in, and to inquire about detailed information on their testing procedures.

You’ll want to make sure that any third party optics you buy are compatible with the operating systems from different OEMs and the latest corresponding software releases. A good way to glean this information from your third party optics supplier is to ask for a list of the equipment in their test bed. This will also allow you to request testing logs and compatibility reporting as needed.

Warranty and Support

Last but most importantly, the best third party optics providers will stand behind their product after you’ve bought them. Because many third party optics providers are highly focused and specialize in the optical transceiver market, they will offer a lifetime warranty on their products. It is inevitable that at one point or another, even with name brand OEM optics, a few optics that you buy will fail. Failures occur most frequently when the software in networking and data center hardware is updated, causing incompatibility with existing optics. Ideal third party optics providers will be able to troubleshoot and replace the optic for you quickly and at minimal to no cost.

Buying 3rd-party optical transceivers may not be as attractive as the products and technologies they support, yet they can enable an organization to maximize the budget it has for IT projects. Finally, while identifying sources with the lowest prices is a common goal, smart customers should look at third party optics suppliers holistically, and factor things like breadth of products supported, compatibility and testing processes, support offerings, and reputation into their buying decisions.


How Much Do You Know About OADM

The OADM, short for optical add drop multiplexer, is one of the key components for dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) and ultra wide wavelength division multiplexing (UW-WDM) optical networks. OADM technology is used to cost effectively access part of the bandwidth in the optical domain being passed through the in-line amplifiers with minimum amount of electronics.

An OADM can be considered as a specific type of optical cross-connect, widely used in wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) systems for multiplexing and routing fiber optic signals. They selectively add and drop individual or sets of wavelength channels from a dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) multi-channel stream. OADMs are used to cost effectively access part of the bandwidth in the optical domain being passed through the in-line amplifiers with the minimum amount of electronics.

OADMs have passive and active modes depending on the wavelength. In passive OADM, the add and drop wavelengths are fixed beforehand while in dynamic mode, OADM can be set to any wavelength after installation. Passive OADM uses WDM filter, fiber gratings, and planar waveguides in networks with WDM systems. Dynamic OADM can select any wavelength by provisioning on demand without changing its physical configuration. It is also less expensive and more flexible than passive OADM. Dynamic OADM is separated into two generations.

A typical OADM consists of three stages: an optical demultiplexer, an optical multiplexer, and between them a method of reconfiguring the paths between the optical demultiplexer, the optical multiplexer and a set of ports for adding and dropping signals. The MUX multiplexes the wavelength channels that are to continue on from DEMUX ports with those from the add ports, onto a single output fiber, while the DEMUX separates wavelengths in an input fiber onto ports. The reconfiguration can be achieved by a fiber patch panel or by optical switches which direct the wavelengths to the MUX or to drop ports. All the light paths that directly pass an OADM are termed cut-through lightpaths, while those that are added or dropped at the OADM node are termed added/dropped lightpaths.

OADM works as follows: the WDM signals from line containing N wavelength channels enter the OADM “Main Input” side, depending on your business needs, from N wavelength channel, selectively from the road-side (Drop) required by the output wavelength channel, accordingly from the road-end (Add) enter the desired wavelength channel. Regardless of other local wavelength channel directly through the OADM, and routing wavelength channels multiplexed together, from the output terminals of the circuit of OADM (Main Output) output. The following picture shows the basic operation of an OADM.


Physically, there are several ways to realize an OADM. There are a variety of demultiplexer and multiplexer technologies including thin film filters, fiber Bragg gratings with optical circulators, free space grating devices and integrated planar arrayed waveguide gratings. The switching or reconfiguration functions range from the manual fiber patch panel to a variety of switching technologies including microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), liquid crystal and thermo-optic switches in planar waveguide circuits.

CWDM and DWDM OADM provide data access for intermediate network devices along a shared optical media network path. Regardless of the network topology, OADM access points allow design flexibility to communicate to locations along the fiber path. CWDM OADM provides the ability to add or drop a single wavelength or multi-wavelengths from a fully multiplexed optical signal. This permits intermediate locations between remote sites to access the common, point-to-point fiber message linking them. Wavelengths not dropped, pass-through the OADM and keep on in the direction of the remote site. Additional selected wavelengths can be added or dropped by successive OADMS as needed.

FS.COM provides a wide selection of specialized OADMs for WDM system. Custom WDM solutions are also available for applications beyond the current product designs including mixed combinations of CWDM and DWDM.

Advantages of 10GBASE-T in Migrating to 10GbE

Over the past few decades, large enterprises have been migrating data center infrastructures from 100MB Ethernet to 1/10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) to support more bandwidth and mission critical applications. However, many mid-market companies found themselves restricted from this migration to 10GbE technology due to cost, low port density and high power consumption. For many of these companies, the explosive growth of technologies, data and applications is severely taxing existing 1GbE infrastructures and affecting performance. So it’s high time for them to upgrade the data center to 10GbE. With many 10GbE interfaces options such as CX4, SFP+ Fiber, SFP+ Direct Attach Copper (DAC), and 10GBASE-T offered, which one is the best? This article will give you the answer.


Shortcomings of SFP+ in 10GbE Data Center Cabling

SFP+ has been adopted on Ethernet adapters and switches and supports both copper and fiber optic cables makes it a better solution than CX4, which is the mainstream 10GbE adoption today. However, SFP+ (eg. 10gbase SR) is not backward-compatible with the twisted-pair 1GbE broadly deployed throughout the data center. SFP+ connectors and their cabling were not compatible with the RJ-45 connectors used on 1GbE networks. Enterprise customers cannot just start adding SFP+ 10GbE to an existing RJ-45 1GbE infrastructure. New switches and new cables are required, which is a big chunk of change.

Advantages of 10GBASE-T in 10GbE Data Center Cabling

10GBASE-T is backward-compatible with 1000BASE-T, it can be deployed in existing 1GbE switch infrastructures in the data centers that are cabled with CAT6, CAT6A or above cabling. As we know, 1GbE is still widely used in data center. 10GBASE-T is backwards compatible with 1GbE and thus will become the perfect choice for gradual transitioning from 1GbE deployment to 10GbE. Additional advantages include:

  • Reach
    Like all BASE-T implementations, 10GBASE-T works for lengths up to 100 meters giving IT managers a far-greater level of flexibility in connecting devices in the data center. With flexibility in reach, 10GBASE-T can accommodate either top of the rack, middle of row, or end of the row network topologies. This gives IT managers the most flexibility in server placement since it will work with existing structured cabling systems.
  • Power
    The challenge with 10GBASE-T is that even single-chip 10GBASE-T adapters consume a watt or two more than the SFP+ alternatives. More power consumption is not a good thing in the data center. However, the expected incremental costs in power over the life of a typical data center are far less than the amount of money saved from reduced cabling costs. Besides, with process improvements, chips improved from one generation to the next. The power and cost of the latest 10GBASE-T PHYs will be reduced greatly than before.
  • Reliability
    Another challenge with 10GBASE-T is whether it could deliver the reliability and low bit-error rate of SFP+. This skepticism can also be expressed as whether the high demands of FCoE could be met with 10GBASE-T. In fact, Cisco has announced that it had successfully qualified FCoE over 10GBASE-T and is supporting it on its newer switches that support 10GBASE-T in 2013.
  • Latency
    Depending on packet size, latency for 1000BASE-T ranges from sub-microsecond to over 12 microseconds. 10GBASE-T ranges from just over 2 microseconds to less than 4 microseconds, a much narrower latency range. For Ethernet packet sizes of 512B or larger, 10GBASE-T’s overall throughout offers an advantage over 1000BASE-T. Latency for 10GBASE-T is more than 3 times lower than 1000BASE-T at larger packet sizes. Only the most latent sensitive applications such as HPC or high frequency trading systems would notice any latency.
  • Cost
    When it comes to capital costs, copper cables offer great savings. Typically, passive copper cables are two to five times less expensive for comparable lengths of fiber. In a 1,000-node cluster, with hundreds of required cables, that can translate into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Extending that into even larger data centers, the savings can reach into the millions. Besides, copper cables do not consume power and because their thermal design requires less cooling, there are extensive savings on operating expenditures within the data center. Hundreds of kilowatts can be saved by using copper cables versus fiber.

From the above analysis, we can see that 10GBASE-T breaks through important cost and cable installation barriers in 10GbE deployment as well as offering investment protection via backwards compatibility with 1GbE networks. Deployment of 10GBASE-T will simplify the networking transition by providing an easier path to migrate to 10GbE infrastructure in support of higher bandwidth needed for virtualized servers. In the future, 10GBASE-T will be the best option for 10GbE data center cabling!

Can High Density and Easy Cable Management Go Hand in Hand?

New technology develops in networking, such as 40G, 100G and 400G Ethernet solutions, which means that data center administrators have new challenges: maintaining high availability, reducing costs, and seeking future proof applications. When pursuing maximal density, capacity and performance, can cable management go hand in hand? This passage will give you the answer.

In fact, high-density fiber connectivity products are the key to making high density a reality without sacrificing streamlined, cost-efficient cable management. Here are the HD series fiber connectivity components from FS.COM which ensure easy cable management along the way.

High-Density Patch Panels

The right high-density patch panel can provide fast, intuitive and easy deployment of high-density interconnects and cross-connects in data centers and LANs – all while conserving valuable rack space. Angled styles can also facilitate cable management practices as compared to standard patch panels.

With the wide deployment of 40G and 100G high speed networks. MPO/MTP breakout patch panel may be an ideal solution for this high-density installation. Deploying high-density patch panels has many advantages. It simplifies the cabling deployment by running short fiber patch cables from your SAN or network switch up to the fiber patch panel. Much space can also be saved in data centers by mounting more cables into a smaller space. Installation is easier since no tools are required to install cassettes in the patch panels, and push-pull tabs are used to ease the difficulty of cable connections in the patch panels.

Fiber Optic Enclosures

Reconfigurable/adjustable panels with various mounting and attachment features can ensure that the patch panel works with your data center configuration without having to buy new components.

Superior port access with increased density can provide up to a 50% reduction in RU (rack unit) space. Also look for housing with an intuitive, modular design – this leads to fewer components and offers a single system that supports a variety of port counts and configurations. Ports should be identified through clear, visible labeling.

Highly accessible sliding and tilting drawers speed up field termination; drawers that can be removed without tools can also reduce installation time. If you’re looking for a pre-terminated solution, housing with simple fixed shelves and cassettes keep deployment time to a minimum.

Solutions that offer support for both legacy ST and SC and modern LC and MPO applications help support cost-effective migration to 40G and 100G applications with only a simple cassette or adapter frame change.

High-Density Patch Cords

High-Density patch cords feature a new pull tab which allows patch cord removal even in highly populated patch panels without the need for a special tool.

Due to space constraints, data centres require high density solutions. With traditional patch cords the operational efficiency is reduced since the latch of the patch cord is above the connector. In dense areas it is often impossible to reach: an additional removal tool is required. With the new pull tab design the latch is extended to the space behind the connector. In this area the pull tab can be easily accessed and the patch cord is released with a simple pull.

Patch cords should also be marked and easily accessible for faster fiber type identification. A great example: Fiberstore uses green on OM3/OM4 cable, adapters and connector bodies and blue on OS2 cable, adapters and connector, making it easy to tell the difference between single mode and multimode fibers.

High-Density Trunks

High-density trunks allow tighter trunk cable bends for slack storage and routing. When you can find high-density trunks that offer smaller/lighter transitions, less space is consumed and installation is easier. Cable pulling and cable management are improved when a cable with a smaller overall diameter is used.

Look for a staggered, ergonomic design that allows easy access to connectors to install MPO trunks. A pulling eye can add efficiency and security when it’s time to move the trunks through densely packed ducts and conduits.

FS.COM HD Fiber Connectivity Solutions

FS.COM HD fiber connectivity solution is your quality choice for easier cable management and high density cabling in data center. Our line of high-density fiber connectivity solutions support easy, streamlined cable management which will save installation time and labor costs to a large extent.

GBIC or SFP — Which One Is Your Choice?

As is known to all, fiber optical transceivers are developed along the way to achieve more compact sizes, such as GBIC, SFP, SFP+ and so on. Meanwhile, these transceiver modules are available with a variety of transmitter and receiver types, allowing users to select the appropriate transceiver for each link to provide the required optical reach over the available optical fiber type (e.g. multi-mode fiber or single-mode fiber). In addition, there are a variety of interface types of GBICs and SFPs, like 1000Base-SX, 1000Base-LX/LH, 1000Base-EX or 1000Base-T etc. Faced with so many choices, some people are confused when choosing the proper one for their project.

Recently many users ask when they choosing a card for their switch/router, they should choose either cards that take SFP or cards that take GBIC. It seems to be a headache for them because they are not clearly know the differences of them. The following will tell you when it’s best to use GBIC or SFP.

GBIC (gigabit interface converter)

GBIC is a hot-swappable input/output device that plugs into a Gigabit Ethernet port or slot, linking the port with the network. GBIC is a standard for transceivers, commonly used with Gigabit Ethernet and fiber channel. GBIC module is hot pluggable, this feature allows a suitably designed enclosure to be changed from one type of external interface to another simply by plugging in a GBIC having the alternative external interface. Generally, GBIC is with the SC connector. The GBIC standard is non-proprietary and is defined by the Small Form Factor committee in document number 8053i. The first publication of the proposal was in November, 1995. A few corrections and additions were made in September, 2000.


SFP (small form-factor pluggable)

SFP is a specification for a new generation of optical modular transceivers. The form factor and electrical interface are specified by a multi-source agreement (MSA). SFP is also known as a Mini GBIC as its function is somewhat similar to the GBIC transceiver while SFP is smaller than it. SFP transceivers are designed to support SONET, gigabit Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and other communications standards. Due to its smaller size, SFP is now more and more widely used for both telecommunication and data communications applications.


GBIC & SFP Interface Types

For every type of GBIC and SFP transceivers, it works with different wavelengths at a designated location or distance. For examples, SX SFP uses 850nm for a maximum of 550 meters, LX SFP uses 1310nm for a maximum 10km, ZX SFP could reach 80km or copper SFP uses a RJ45 interface. We can easily distinguish via the information in their names or models, ie. 1000BASE-T, 1000BASE-SX, 1000BASE-LX/LH, 1000BASE-ZX, 1000BASE-CWDM, or 1000BASE-DWDM. In addition, the DOM function for an SFP is discretionary. It supports the users to locate the real-time working status of SFP. The famous brand of GBICs or SFPs are Cisco, Finisar, HP, Juniper, Extreme Network and so on. There is a little difference in the features of each brand’s GBICs and SFPs and they support their corresponding brand’s switches/routers.

When it’s best to use GBIC and When to use SFP?

According to the above definitions of GBIC and SFP, you may have a further understanding on both of them. There is only one difference of them. SFP is smaller than GBIC. Because the smaller size of SFP (almost half the volume of GBIC), we can configure double number of ports on the same panel which increases the utilization rates of switches/routers. Other basic functions of SFP is almost the same with the GBIC and they are equal in performance. Though there are some users still using the GBIC as their old divice which can not be updated to support SFP, GBIC will gradually be obsoleted and replaced by SFP. So the answer to the question “When it’s best to use GBIC and When to use SFP?” is very noticeable.