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Media converters could soon play prominent role in business networks

By Max Burkhalter
May 1, 2013

Most businesses currently operate with a network that is heavily reliant on copper cables and Ethernet architectures. This methodology makes plenty of sense because fiber is expensive and Ethernet has been around for long enough to be a tried-and-true solution. However, a number of emerging technologies are challenging copper's role by pushing performance capabilities and making network efficiency a key consideration. According to Cabling Installation & Maintenance magazine, fiber-optic cables can provide organizations with an energy-efficiency boost. While efficiency gains are considerable, the network architecture that makes this possible is incredibly disruptive. To deal with this change, the enterprise sector may have to start looking at telecom infrastructure.

Using optical networks in the enterprise
According to the news source, deploying fiber-optic networks in the enterprise will likely be done by installing the infrastructure in the horizontal space of the network. This means that it could be used as a passive optical LAN (POL), which is a subset of the broad optical LAN (OLAN) architecture. This presents a unique wrinkle in corporate networks because POL/OLAN solutions are built using the same core setup that is followed for fiber-to-the-home networks in the telecom sector.

The report said that following the FTTH model in the enterprise means major changes for many IT departments and cabling installation experts. One one hand, most industry technicians are comfortable with handling single mode fiber. However, the configuration of the POL/OLAN infrastructure can be incredibly complex. The end result of an FTTH-like network in business environments is the need to replace a lot of the equipment that is already used to support operations. This can prove incredibly disruptive, but the effort could be worth it if the promises for greater efficiency and performance are achieved.

Easing POL/OLAN deployment with media conversion
While replacing network equipment is inevitable in many POL/OLAN setups, organizations are likely to depend on core Ethernet technologies for many end-user functions for a long time. This creates an environment in which interoperability issues between the POL/OLAN setup and the Ethernet infrastructure have to be resolved. Fiber to Ethernet media converters can play a prominent role in supporting compatibility by providing a cost-effective solution for media conversion within the network. This can create value by simplifying interoperability and through the introduction of advanced network functions, such as Quality of Service, in the system. As enterprise networks start to look more like telecom infrastructure, media converters could become key.

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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