Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Transitioning Your Data Center from Copper to Fiber

By Lisa Huff

Companies like Corning (GLW) like to tell data center managers that with the advent of 10G, they should be transitioning their network from mostly copper connections to all fiber-optic. But, as many of you probably know, this is easier said than done. There are many things to consider:

1. How much more is it going to cost me to install fiber instead of copper?
2. Do I change my network architecture to Top-of-Rack in order to facilitate using more fiber? What are the down sides of this?
3. Is it really cost-effective to go all-optical?
4. What is my ROI/IRR if I do go all-optical?
5. Will it really help my power and cooling overload if I go all-optical?

It is very difficult to get to specific answers for a particular data center because each one is different. And guidelines from industry vendors may be skewed based on what they are trying to sell you. OFC/NFOEC management has recognized this and asked me to teach a new short course for their 2011 conference – Data Center Cabling – Transitioning from Copper to Fiber will be part of the special symposium Meeting the Computercom Challenge: Components and Architectures for Computational Systems and Data Centers. I invite your ideas on specifics you would like to see covered in this new short course.

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