Let’s talk about transceivers
Optical transceivers are small plug-in devices that use fiber optic cable or copper cable to transmit and receive data within a network. One end of the optical transceiver plugs directly into a switch, router, network interface card, or firewall. The other end connects to fiber optic cable or copper cable, which is then linked to another optical transceiver that is plugged into a switch, router, network interface card, or firewall in the network.
Optical transceivers come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit the many types of networking equipment offered by the manufacturers. Some optical transceiver variations include CWDM-GBIC, CWDM-SFP, GBIC, SFP, X2, XFP, and XENPAK. These variations are capable of sending data at different speeds, ranging from 0.5 Mbps (Megabytes per second) to 200 Gbps (Gigabytes per second). They are also designed to work with either fiber optic or copper cable. The type of optical transceiver and cable used is dictated by the manufacturer of the networking equipment.
Some transceivers contain a microprocessor and diagnostics interface. Known as Digital Optical Monitoring (DOM), this tool allows users the ability to monitor real-time parameters such as optical output power, optical input power, temperature, laser bias current, and transceiver supply voltage.
There are many manufacturers of optical transceivers, including industry brands, such as Cisco, HP, and Juniper, and countless third-party brands. Not surprisingly, brand-name optical transceivers are specified by the manufacturer to be utilized with their networking equipment. However, third-party brand optical transceivers are identical in every way to their brand-name counterparts. In fact, they are often manufactured by the same company that supplies the major brand company. Third-party optical transceivers are a fraction of the cost of the brand-name devices.
One myth in the industry is that network equipment manufacturers will not warrant a product if a third-party peripheral device, such as an optical transceiver, is being utilized. However, network equipment failure due to a failed optical transceiver is rare at best. Equipment failure occurs at the port level, or the optic just fails. There has never been a switch or router failure due to an optical transceiver.
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