So you want to move to 10gig? Awesome! 10gig is a fantastic backbone for the network. It eliminates many of the modern bandwidth issues. Especially issues within or between data centers, or from the data center to your access switches.
What exactly is required to run 10gig? That’s a question we’re often asked, and in this article we will go over everything you need to consider.
What Kind of Fiber Do You Have Today?
Unless you have a greenfield deployment, you are most likely running 1gig connections between your IDF closets and data center. This connection is most likely multi-mode fiber. You may be running singlemode fiber if you have an especially long path to a remote closet.
Requirements for 10Gig
If you want to run 10gig at any distance, you need at least OM3 multi-mode fiber (see table below).
OM3 multi-mode fiber is often referred to as 10gig fiber. It was designed to run 10gig and provide a decent amount of distance [(300 meters (980 feet)]. That is sufficient for most applications.
If you require more distance, you can consider OM4 multi-mode. It can reach up to 400 meters (1310 feet). (You can also move to singlemode fiber. We’ll talk about that option at the end of this article.)
If you are merely running fiber within the data center or between a couple of floors, lower distances may work fine. Remember to consider the distance of the fiber plus the distance of the patch cable on both ends when you make the final call on length requirements.
It’s important to have the cable tested and certified for 10gig to make sure you won’t have any issues. The last thing you want to do is schedule a maintenance window to install the new 10gig networking equipment, only to find out the 10gig won’t come up due to a fiber issue. Know this ahead of time.
If your cable plant is several years old, you likely have multimode cable and OM1/OM2 versions. Be careful to check the network manufacturer to validate the optics will support this cable type. Not all manufacturers will.
Additionally, we often find that old fiber cable plants have not been well maintained. The fiber is brittle and using old style connectors such as ST and SC.
We would recommend that you have all the fiber strands tested for 10gig. If at all possible, have the fiber re-terminated onto LC connectors within the bulkhead.
This is the backbone of your network. You want to know that the cable infrastructure is sound. Once put into production, this fiber plant will likely serve you for 10 years or more. If you can use existing fiber, now is the time to make sure it has been completely restored to new condition.
What About Singlemode Fiber?
The main reason for installing singlemode fiber is distance requirements. Singlemode fiber is usually the right choice for connections between buildings.
However, we do have some clients who choose to use singlemode within a building. This is to future-proof for higher speed connections, such as 40gig or 100gig.
The choice will largely be determined by your budget. The cost for singlemode optics on your networking gear will be more expensive, usually double. So if a multi-mode SFP+ module is $500, you can expect to spend $1,000 for a singlemode SFP+ module.
In the end, here’s what you want to remember:
1. What fiber do I have today?
2. What distance do I need from end to end, including the patch cord?
3. What flavor of fiber will my network manufacturer support?
4. Certify your fiber plant for 10gig before you install any equipment.
If you have questions about any of this, please feel free to drop us a line. We'd be happy to help.