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Media converters can maximize cost-to-performance ratios in mixed networks

By Max Burkhalter
April 10, 2013

Mixed fiber and Ethernet networks are increasingly common in a variety of data center and building settings. Whether you are running a warehouse retail location, a large office campus or a data center that handles lots of north-south and east-west traffic, you have probably had to seriously consider fiber in the not-to-distant past. Fiber-optic cabling systems provide performance that is almost unmatched. Since many core cable installations will last 10 or more years before being replaced, the future-proof nature of fiber is an attractive idea for many organizations, at least it is until they see the price tag.

Fiber-optic cabling and network equipment is among the most expensive, and difficult to test, infrastructure out there. It also offers almost unlimited bandwidth, is extremely reliable and does not fall prey to the same kinds of electromagnetic interference as copper cables. On top of all of that, distance is not a major issue with fiber, whereas copper tends to run out of room for extending the network at about 100 meters. This leaves many companies with a tough decision. Fiber looks like it would be so nice to use, but it would also cost so much. Copper has performance limitations, but it is convenient, inexpensive and a fairly known entity.

With the difference between fiber and copper getting tougher all the time, the answer could be to use both.

Media conversion can serve as an interoperability enabler
The only real problem with using fiber and copper alongside one another is that fiber does not play well with Ethernet. That does not have to be a roadblock though. Media converters let you establish a fiber line and connect it directly to a copper cable without having to go through a switch. As a result, you can use fiber where you need it, such as for backhaul getting storage data to application servers, but branch out to copper when it makes more sense. This gives you the flexibility you need to really maximize the network.

By analyzing network traffic, usage patterns and long-term explanations carefully, organizations can identify the best places to use copper and the right parts of the network to use fiber. Fiber to Ethernet solutions can serve as the glue that puts the whole network together and businesses can maximize the overall price-to-performance ratio that their broad network setup.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.


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