Choosing the Right Media Type

One of the frequent questions we hear from our customers has to do with choosing the right media type for their data center. On the surface, it would seem the answer is obvious: use copper between the servers and first tier of switches and use optical fiber everywhere else. Although you might find yourself nodding in agreement, that answer does not really address the real question.

The real questions is: what is the right media type for maximizing what is important to you or minimizing what is costing you?

Let’s take a look at just one of the factors you might consider when looking at the various media types: latency.

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FCoE using 10GBASE-T

A converged fabric based on Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) helps data center architects and managers reduce CAPEX, OPEX, while simplifying the network infrastructure.  Up until recently, there was something hindering the adoption of FCoE: 10GBASE-T.

Historically, deploying FCoE on the links between servers and aggregation switches meant that one had to use optical fiber or Direct Attach Copper (DAC) cable assemblies.  The first generation of aggregation switches that supported 10GBASE-T did not support FCoE.  Additionally, 10GBASE-T Ethernet server adapters did not support FCoE as well, and FCoE was only available with Converged Network Adapters (CAN) that supported the SFP+ form factor.  That meant one could implement ToR architectures with FCoE using DAC cable assemblies or other architectures using optical fiber for longer distances.

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