When it comes to networking equipment there is one name that is constantly improving and that everyone know about, Cisco Systems. Cisco is one of the main, if not the biggest, developer and manufacturer of networking equipment in the world. Cisco has been developing and manufacturing networking equipment for around 30 years, since the beginning of the Internet era. Since then they have become the leaders in the Computer Networking world, constantly pushing and motivating the other vendors to develop new technologies and constantly pushing the existent technologies to their limit.
One of their main fields are their Switches which are known in the world for their complexity, reliability and features. There are a couple of existing switch lines that Cisco offers: Nexus Switches, used mainly in the Datacenter Environment, Meraki Switches, used for Cloud Management, Cisco Blade Switches, used in the Virtualization Environment and the most used and famous Cisco Catalyst Switches used in day to day network operations.
Cisco Catalyst switches are classified in three separate types for different applications depending on their use. They can be used in the Access Layer, in the Core and Aggregation Layers and there are also compact switches. Each type of switches has various devices to offer. The largest group of Catalyst switches are the Access Layer Switches. There are twelve switches to choose from. However, we should always keep in mind that technology moves forward and new and modern switches are constantly replacing the old models. Although the old models like Cisco Catalyst 3750, 3560 and 2960-S/SF series can still do the job effortlessly, the new modern switch models have solid ground of new features that make them stand out of the crowd. The most used Access Layer modern switches are Cisco Catalyst 3650, 3850 and 4500 series.
Going deeper in the network infrastructure we will meet the Cisco Catalyst Core and Aggregation line of switches which are literally packed with features and possibilities to ensure more reliable and relaxed Network management. Under this type there are most commonly four Catalyst models to choose from, Cisco Catalyst 6800, 6500, 4900M and 4500X series.
Cisco Systems are known for their creativity and they decided to develop a line of switches that would be deployed in a tight space areas where the normal lines of switches won’t be able to be installed because of their size. In this case the only Cisco solution would be their Cisco Compact line of switches. There are four models that fall into this category starting from Cisco Catalyst 3560-C, 3560-CX, 2960-C and 2960-CX series. As mentioned before, some models are more modern than the others. In this case the new modern models are the CX series switches.
In the networking environment the rush for speed and reliability is constant. The latest trend in networking and by far the most advanced technology used is the Optical Networking. Cisco switches offer the bandwidth and reliability much needed for upgrading the existent Network Architecture. The benefits of the Optical Network Solutions are countless. It offers the speed and capacity of supporting not only the existing applications but also the future applications that would be developed. It offers redundant network architecture capable of supporting even the most complex business operations. It offers reduced cost and complexity. Because the cost of Cisco Catalyst Switches is greater than other vendor’s switches, many IT managers and companies are trying to reduce the costs by searching for SFP alternatives to be installed in their Cisco switches. However Cisco Systems didn’t allow the use of 3rd party SFP modules in their switches until a solution was found. If a 3rd party transceiver is inserted in the switch’s GBIC port an error message will occur saying that a non-supported transceiver has been detected and the GBIC port will be disabled. This happens because when a 3rd party transceiver is inserted in the GBIC port, the switch reads a number of values from the new SFP and expects them to be familiar. All SFP modules in their EEPROM have a number of prerecorded values that contain the Vendor name, Vendor ID, Serial number, Security code and CRC. However when it detects that these values are not familiar it immediately disables the port as a precautionary measure. There are two undocumented commands existing that can be configured to allow for a 3rd party SFP to be installed: “service unsupported-transceiver” and after “no errdisable detect cause gbic-invalid”. These commands would allow the switch to ignore the error disable default behavior and not disable the port when a 3rd party SFP is detected.
However it’s worth mentioning that the fiber-mart.com Blueoptics© transceivers are developed and manufactured to work seamlessly with the Cisco Catalyst switches and no extra configuration is needed for them to work.
fiber-mart.com offers a wide variety of high quality, latest technology Blueoptics© Fiber Optics transceivers capable for wide range of applications. Blueoptics© transceivers are developed and manufactured with the goal to bring the maximum performance and reliability to the customer. They are manufactured by the latest standards with components by the leading manufacturers for optical components. They feature a 5-year warranty and a lifetime support. What’s unique about these transceivers is the fact that they can be developed and manufactured unique for the many different networking vendors out there. They are specifically designed to offer the maximum performance in various network solutions like server and storage solutions and switching and virtualization solutions.
Blueoptics© transceivers are divided in different categories depending on the type of network architecture they are needed for, however there are most commonly used transceivers in each category.
Blueoptics© transceivers are compatible with over a hundred vendor’s equipment but most importantly they are compatible with the widely popular Cisco Catalyst switches.
For 10GB Ethernet network architecture the most commonly used transceivers are known as SFP+ and SFP. These widely used transceivers can support data rates up to 16 GB/s (SFP+). In comparison to older Xenpak and XFP modules, SFP+ introduces the direct attach solution for connecting two separate SFP+ ports into dedicated transceivers.
For 40GB Ethernet network architecture the most commonly used transceivers are the QSFP transceivers. This transceivers help the migration from 10GB to 40GB network be done seamlessly and on the same fiber infrastructure. They meet the latest demands in speeds and performance.
For 100GB Ethernet network architecture the most commonly used transceivers are the CFP transceivers. These transceivers are mainly used in the core network of Service Providers and Datacenters.
Direct Attach Cables (DAC)
Other than transceivers fiber-mart.com BlueLAN© offers Direct Attach Cables (DAC) and Active Optical Cables (AOC). Direct Attach Cables are used when connecting separate switches in a stack of switches which can be active or passive. Because the passive DAC have no active components inside them, they offer only a direct electrical connection between the both ends. The AOC are considered to be active because they have active optical components within them. Thus it guarantees improved signal quality and provides longer cable distance. On the other hand DAC are manufactured as fixed assembly and they are purchased at an exact length.
Even though many would think that the end of the copper cables is near, the story with the Direct Attach Copper Cables is different. They are still commonly used in the networking world providing some advantages and some disadvantages. They provide enough data rate for today’s applications, up to 10 GB/s in each channel. They are compatible with the fiber optic cables and they can be swapped with ease. They are less expensive than the optical transceivers because they cost less to manufacture and have no optical components. The biggest negative characteristic of the copper DAC is its weight. Commonly these cables are big and bulky making them difficult to work with. Other negative aspect is the fact that because it’s a copper cable it’s easily effected by the electromagnetic interference. This can eventually cause a complete system failure.
AOC is an alternative to optical transceivers and eliminates the separate interface between the transceiver module and optical cable. Like the DAC it offers a couple of advantages and disadvantages. It needs no equipment upgrade and offers greater bandwidth than DAC, up to 40GB/s with QSFP. Because of its manufacturing process its lightweight compared to Direct Attach Cables. AOC are not capable of transmitting electric current and it’s not subjected to electromagnetic interference. The main negative aspect is the higher price than the DAC.