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Revisiting fiber for internal networks

By Max Burkhalter
March 12, 2013

We talk a lot about fiber-optic cabling systems, especially fiber to the home. While FTTH and similar telecom-focused technologies are playing a key role in the fiber market, the movement toward fiber used in internal networks is rising. The Sandia National Laboratories recently announced the successful deployment of an all-fiber network is some of its high-performance computing environments and many other organizations find themselves facing logistical or performance challenges that make fiber key. As network-focused trends continue to point organizations away from copper, it is time to revisit the importance of internal optical networks.

Looking again at reasons to deploy fiber internally
There's a long list of reasons to use fiber in an internal network, and many of the reasons haven't changed. For example, companies that need to extend the network beyond the 100-meter limitations of copper cabling will still probably want to look at fiber as an option. While such tried-and-true fiber usage models have remained relevant, there is also a growing need for fiber networks in response to new technological trends. These include:

Big data: Companies depending on big data need low-latency connectivity between servers and end users so they can gather and effectivelyuse structured and unstructured information. Copper networks can struggle to keep up as big data volume increases exponentially.

Cloud computing: The cloud has been in the networking discussion for a while now, but many businesses are starting to see the technology as a reality, not just a highly hyped emerging solution. With more businesses investing in a combination of public and private cloud resources, information is traveling to end users from a wider range of sources. This combines with the need for greater bandwidth in cloud environments to make internal fiber systems, even just for backhaul, increasingly important for many types of companies.

Making fiber work internally
While there are plenty of trends making fiber more important in internal networks, there have been many challenges, with cost and deployment issues on the top of the list. Fiber costs are gradually changing as the technology continues to age, though they may not have fallen enough to enable pervasive fiber use. However, many deployment problems have been dealt with. In particular, the ease of use and cost effectiveness of media converters not only makes interoperability much easier in fiber setups, it also allows organizations to interchange fiber and copper to control costs effectively.

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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