Can GPON SFP Be Plugged Into My Own Switch?

Fiber has been introduced to average homes and businesses for a spell and it has different names from different service providers: Google Fiber, Verizon FiOS, AT&T GigaPower, UFiber, etc. GPON is one of the key technologies that are used to deploy these fiber-based access networks (FTTx). Though it is called GPON from its emergency to its prosperity, some details in utilizing GPON services have changed. Early GPON adopters may still remember the doubled devices the provider installed in the house. But now things seem to be easier in adopting GPON for both the service provider and the end user. Optical Network Termination (ONT) or Optical Network Unit (ONU) GPON SFP module is the new kid in GPON applications and customers has not been familiar with them enough.

GPON SFP module

ONT/ONU: From Optical Modem to GPON SFP Module

What is your ONT like? Previous ONT is an optical modem. It usually has an SC/APC port for connecting the SC fiber patch cord, some fast Ethernet or gigabit Ethernet (LAN) ports. Some has a phone port for VoIP service. Apart from a modem, the service provider also lends an IP access router to the customer. If there’s television service required, a Set-Top-Box or a video recorder is also needed. Some Internet service providers (ISPs) put an integrated ADSL router (modem + router).

optical modem with an SC port

ONT/ONU GPON SFP module a bidirectional single-mode module with a simplex SC receptacle. The adoption of GPON ONT SFP is considered a significant improvement in GPON optical networks. Compared with its predecessor, the SFP format has much smaller size than traditional ONTs/ONUs. Besides, it cut down the equipment that need to be provided by the ISP, which also make it easier for customers to connect their diverse data, voice and video devices.

Can I Use GPON SFP Module in My Own Switch?

Since the GPON ONT has been condensed with a small form-factor pluggable (SFP) packaging, can it be plugged into the end users’ switch/router as other SFP modules do? In most scenarios, the answer is yes. Several reasons can prove how it is possible.

Firstly, the GPON ONT module is in standard SFP format. Such a packaging allows the GPON ONT module to be plugged into any standard MSA-compliant SFP slot. This is the basis for its use in other devices not provided by the ISP.

Secondly, it has been stated by the vendors of GPON ONT SFP modules that their ONT SFP can be used in a wide range of wired and wireless products with SFP port, such as Huawei MA5671A ONT SFP. The datasheet of this GPON ONT SFP says it can be plugged into the SFP port of any customer- or carrier-owned terminals, including switch and router. Also it can be used in WiFi access point (AP) with SFP slot and to transmit wireless traffic over GPON.

Thirdly and most importantly, there are home users or engineers who have tested PON ONT SFP modules in different networking devices. During the installation the GPON service, some users required to use their own routers instead of the router provided by the ISP. It was approved by the ISP and they whitelisted the users’ router so that it can interoperate with the OLT in the Central Office. What the users needed to do is just to plug the GPON ONT SFP in the SFP port of the router and then plug the SC fiber patch cord into the receptacle of the GPON ONT SFP. The only hard point in this process is to get the support from your ISP. (If you are interested, these using cases can be easily found on google.) In addition, the test of GPON ONT SFP modules from different vendors has been down as well. Most manufacturers’ GPON SFPs can be used in any switches/routers/gateways with SFP ports. But this is the ideal case, not given that some picky original switches/routers may refuse to or the GPON ONT SFP is not a quality one.

Conclusion

GPON SFP is a small transceiver module that allows effective and low-consumption transmission over GPON. And the use of GPON ONT/ONU SFP module at the customer side is even more convenient than previous installations. Theoretically and practically, a standard GPON ONT SFP can be used in any switches/routers/gateways/APs with standard SFP ports. The only question is to get the approval of your ISPs.

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How to Build a Data Center of 40G Networking With 32-Port 40G Switch?

Earlier before this year we did not anticipate the shared bikes would be widely spread all over the world, but now at the end of this year they are already everywhere. Shared bike is one of the instances of the Internet of Things (IoT), and there are many other applications that have witnessed the development of network-dependent technologies, such as self-driving cars, smart mobile phones/pads, etc. They are all calling for high bandwidth and low latency. But the old network infrastructure of data centers is not capable enough in such an environment, especially for those data centers that should deal with a huge amount of traffic. So some data centers are upgrading from 10G networking to 40G networking by using 40 Gigabit Ethernet switch, of which a 32-port 40G switch is a typical choice.

Limits of Old Data Center Network Infrastructure

What are the limits of old data center network infrastructure? In the past, the major traffic in data centers is in the north-south direction. As for data center switches, it is enough to use 10G uplink ports between the Top of Rack (ToR) switches and the aggregation switches. But as new applications and services rapidly emerge, the traffic between the end user and the data center is increasing, and the traffic in the east-west direction within the data center is increasing as well. Issues of congestion, poor scalability and latency occur when data centers keep using traditional network infrastructure.

The New Fabric for Data Center 40G Networking With 32-Port 40G Switch

In order to meet the requirements of the ever increasing network applications and services, data centers are constantly seeking better solutions. The primary problems are about bandwidth and latency. So one important thing is to upgrade from 10G networking to 40G networking. Since the 40G switch price and the 40G accessory price have dropped a lot, it is feasible to deploy 32-port 40G switches in the aggregation layer. In order to reduce the latency, it is wise to adopt the new spine-leaf topology compared with the old topology.

Scaling Example by Using 32-Port 40G Switch

A network based on the spine-leaf topology is considered highly scalable and redundant. Because in a spine-leaf topology, each hypervisor in the rack connects every leaf switch. And each leaf switch is connected to every spine switch, which provides a large amount of bandwidth and a high level of redundancy. In a 40G networking, it means every connection between the hypervisor and the leaf switch, the leaf switch and the spine switch is both at 40G data rate. In a spine-leaf topology, the leaf switches are the ToR switches and the spine switches are the aggregation switches.

data center 40G networking in spine-leaf topology

One principle in spine-leaf topology is that, the number of leaf switches is determined by the number of ports in the spine switch, at the same time the number of the spine switches equals the number of connections used for uplink. For a 32-port 40G switch like FS.COM N8000-32Q, it can have a maximum of 32 40G ports, but some ports should be used for uplinks to the core switches. In this case, we use 24 40G ports for connectivity to the leaf switches, meaning there are 24 leaf switches in each pod. The leaf switch we use is the FS.COM S5850-48S6Q, a 48-port 10G switch with 6 40G uplink ports. Each leaf switch has 4 40G uplinks to the spine switch. Then each spine switch connects to the two core switches.

data center 40G networking with 32-port 40G switch

Better Enhance the 40G Networking by Zones

This new data center fabric by using 32-port 40G switch is an improvement in bandwidth and latency, but it is not perfect either. For every network switch, it has limits on its memory, including the memory of MAC addresses, ARP entries, routing information, etc. Particularly for the core switch, the number of ARPs it can store is still limited compared with the large number it has to deal with.

Therefore, there’s need to split the network into zones. Each zone has its own core switches, and each pod has its own spine switches. Different zones are connected by edge routers. By adopting this design, we are able to expand our network horizontally as long as there are available ports on the edge routers.

data center 40G networking with 32-port 40G switch optimized by zones

Conclusion

The transformation of data centers is mainly due to the demand of the users. The increasing amount of networking applications and traffic pushes data centers to evolve from old fabric to new fabric. So some data centers have changed from 10G networking to 40G networking by using 40 Gigabit Ethernet switch as spine switch like 32-port 40G switch. And better optimized design is adopted to ensure the desired performance of the new 40G network.

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Stack Switch: Optimize Your Network Performance to the Maximum

Stacking switch is a common technology used in network design, especially when large numbers of ports are required in data centers or large size networks. Stack switch not only provides high performance, but also maximizes network scalability and simplify network management. That’s why stackable switches are popular among network builders. Then what is stack switch? What’s the common way for switch stacking in the market?

What Is Stack Switch?

Stack switch, also called stackable switch by vendors, allows several switches to stack via specific stackwise port or uplink port. Traditionally the switches stacked together usually is limited to the same series of network switches. Mixed switch stacking is allowed for today’s switches. The number of stacked switches is often determined by switch brand. For example, Cisco 3850 stack switch can have a maximum of eight switches to be stacked, while Dell N4000 series stack switches are up to twelve. When switches are stacked, all members in this stack share the same IP address and can be managed as “one unit” through the CLI (command line interface) or embedded Web interface, which offers great convenience for network administrators without lowering its performance.

FS stack switch

Usually stack switches come with fixed configuration like 12, 24, or 48 gigabit Ethernet ports. Compared with modular switches that allow line cards or service modules in and out as needed, stack switches are more cost-effective in enterprise campus networks which offer endpoint connectivity and uplink capabilities for users at a price per port. Therefore, for those who has limited switch port or enterprise networks that lack of physical expandability, stack switch is an excellent choice for network expansion.

How to Achieve Network Switch Stack?

From the first generation of of Cisco 3750 series stack switches, the stackable switch market has become more mature, so does the switch stacking technology. Like Cisco, other network switch vendors like Dell, Brocade and FS.COM also add their own unique features and functionality to their stack switches, which enhance the virtuous circle of switch stacking technology development.

The typical method for switch stacking is to use stacking cable via stackwise port. Take Cisco 3750 series stack switches for example. Stackwise port lies on the rear-panel. Only approved cables can be used to connect the 3750 stack switches with other similar switches. If not, devices easily get damage. In addition, Cisco offers different connection types for this stack: full bandwidth connection and half bandwidth connection, which provide great flexibility for different application requirements.

stack switch with stackwise-cable

Another way to achieve switch stack is to use the uplink ports. As has mentioned, many switch vendors upgrade the switch stacking technology to improve their competitiveness. Today’s stack switches can be stacked using several types of Ethernet ports such as 10GBASE-T copper port, 10G SFP+ fiber port and 40G QSFP+ port. Here take FS S3800-24F4S stackable managed switch as an example. As shown in the following picture, in the stack, one fiber cable from a 10G SFP+ port on a stack switch is connected to a SFP+ stacking port on the next switch. This process is repeated until all of the devices are connected. And the first stack switch is also connected with the last one to complete the stacking topology.

FS stack switch with SFP+ uplink

Conclusion

Stack switch, no matter uses stack cable or SFP+ stacking/uplink port, provides high bandwidth port density and easy management for network design. But compared with the way of using stack cable, stacking/uplink port is more cost-effective. Besides, using fiber uplink port to stack switch can realize long distance stacking in different areas, which are more popular in today’s network infrastructures.

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Recommendations on “Managed” Fanless Gigabit Switch 24-Port or Less

When will we consider to buy a managed fanless Gigabit switch 24-port or Less? Common situations where we use fanless Gigabit managed switches are for small office connectivity or for home lab upgrading. In these occasions, we pursue the speed of Gigabit because they can improve the end user experience or enhance work efficiency. At the same time, we require the machine to cause low noise so users in these environments will not be disturbed. As for the management functions, different people want different levels of managing of their network. But in overall managing a fanless Gigabit switch 24-port or less is not expected to be as complex as managing an fully-managed switches. Otherwise, the user experience will not be enhanced but in contrary be decreased. This post will recommend some easily managed 8-24 ports fanless Gigabit switches. For more information of whether to choose a fanless switch or with fan switch, please read the post Should You Buy a Fanless Switch or Switch With Fan?

managed fanless gigabit switch 24-port

Recommend Managed Fanless Gigabit Switch 24-Port or Less

A fanless switch usually will not be more than 24 ports. When a switch has more than 24 ports, for example, in a 48-port switch the power supply has to be big enough and there are many ships inside the box, if there’s no fans the air flow might become a problem. So the fanless Gigabit managed switches that we’re going to recommend will be 24-port or less. And they are all non-PoE switches.

Managed Fanless Gigabit Switch 24-Port

There are many fanless Gigabit switches that are 24-port in the market, and the five models that we’re going to recommend are from four brands. They are HP Procurve 1800-24G, 1810-24G smart-managed Gigabit switch, Cisco Catalyst 2960XR-24TS-I 24-port fanless Gigabit switch, FS S2800-24T4F fanless 24-port Gigabit managed switch and Zyxel GS1900-24 smart managed switch.

Table 24-port fanless gigabit managed switch

They have some characteristics in common that make them suitable for being used in places like home office and small office. The similarities of them include low power consumption and Gigabit fiber uplink ports. And of course the most important property is that they are silent in operation.

Another key factor that makes these five switches qualified in the managed fanless Gigabit switch 24-port list is their management function. These five switches are all managed switch that provide full layer 2 traffic management features and simple network management via Web GUI.

Cost-wise the HP 1800-24G, HP 1810-24G, FS S2800-24T4F and Zyxel G1900-24 are all good choices. The Cisco Catalyst 2960XR-24TS-I will cost more than the other four but it surely provides more some more advanced features belonging to layer 3. If we need stronger data transferring capability, Cisco Catalyst 2960XR-24TS-I is a good choice considering its backplane and forwarding rate.

In terms of the power consumption, we can notice that among them the two switch models FS S2800-24T4F and Zyxel G1900-24 consumes up to 20W power, while the FS S2800-24T4F provides two more combo Gigabit SFP/RJ45 ports for up-linking. The cost of buying a brand new fanless Gigabit switch 24-port FS S2800-24T4F or a Zyxel G1900-24 is near, too.

24-port fanless managed switch fs S2800-24T4F

Managed Fanless Gigabit Switch 8/12-Port

If we have only a few devices to be connected to a fanless switch, then we can take 8/12-port fanless Gigabit switch into consideration. There are some good 8-port or 12-port fanless Gigabit managed switches popularly used by end users as well.

The HP 1800-8G and HP 1810-8G are two 8-port fanless Gigabit switches. They both have 8 10/100/1000BASE-T ports. They are cost-effective fanless switches if we do not require CLI management, STP (Spanning Tree Protocol) or other advanced management features. The HP 1800-8G/1810-8G has a switch capacity of 16 Gb/s and a forwarding rate of 11.9 Mpps. The maximum power rating of HP1800-8G is 18W and the HP 1810-8G is 15W. Another two 8-port fanless Gigabit switches of Cisco 2960 and 2960G are also favorable options. They are the Cisco WS-C2960G-8TC-L and Cisco WS-C2960-8TC-L.

The 12-port fanless Gigabit switch we want to recommend is Juniper EX2200-C12T-2G. It is a fanless Gigabit switch with 12 10/100/100BASE-T ports and 2 combo Gigabit SFP/RJ45 uplink ports. It is in standard 1RU package and the maximum power consumption is 30 W. In addition to all the layer 2 features, it also provides static routing.

Conclusion

Fanless Gigabit switch 24-port or less is best for use in environments that require low noise and Gigabit speed. And fanless Gigabit switch managed is a wise choice for users because it provides beneficial traffic control and network management ability.

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Stackable 10Gbase-T Switch or Standalone 10Gbase-T Switch, Which One Is Better?

When searching for a 10Gbase-T switch, you may find some switches are labeled as stackable managed switch. What does stackable switch mean? What’s the difference between standalone 10Gbase-T switch and stackable 10Gbase-T switch? What kind of switch should choose? Don’t worry. Keep reading this article.

What Is Stackable Switch?

Stackable switch means a network switch can be set up in a group to work with one or other switches. These switches are combined through connecting certain ports. Stackable switch can also operate as a standalone switch.

One thing you should notice is that “clustering” is not as the same as “stackable”. Though some switches appear in a single unit, actually these are “clustering switches” and must be managed and configured individually. They don’t have any stacking capability which allow you to configure, manage and troubleshoot all switches in a stack as a single unit.

Should We Buy Stackable 10Gbase-T Switch or Standalone 10Gbase-T Switch?

Switch is the most important device to receive, process and transmit data information in a network. At the same time, 10Gbase-T switch is not cheap. Buying an inappropriate switch not only influences network data quality but also leads to cost waste. To select a stackable 10Gbase-T switch or a standalone 10Gbase-T switch, we should know advantages and disadvantages of each switch before making decisions.

Stackable Switches Features

Some business choose to install stackable switches because of their advantages, for instance, simplicity, scalability, and flexibility. Since stackable switches work as one single switch, it’s easier to manage and set up the network. If we need to add more ports to current network, we can simply buy another stackable switch and add it to the stack. Although stackable switches have so many advantages, they still have some disadvantages. First, when one of stackable switches stops working, cable connections would fail and these cables should be reset or replaced. Therefore, we have to bring down the entire stack. Second, when lots of data transmitting over these switches in a stack, the speed of the stack ports and the ring architecture of the stack can cause bad influences.

Standalone Switches Features

Standalone switches don’t have stacking ports, so they can’t be connected together to work like a single switch. That causes inconvenience to scale because we have to connect each switch to the distribution layer. For larger deployments, it would cost more. But standalone switches work well in small server room or data center.

Recommendation of Standalone 10Gbase-T Switch and Stackable 10Gbase-T Switch

In a small campus deployment or data center with limited space, standalone switches are popular as top-of-rack switches. Here is a standalone 10Gbase-T switch. S5850-48T4Q switch supports 48 10Gbase-T ports and 4 40G QSFP+ ports. It’s designed to be applied in Enterprise, Data Center and Metro network. To know more details about this switch, you can also read this article.

10gbase-t-switch-S5850-48T4Q

Unlike standalone switch, stackable switches work in different environments. As mentioned above, stackable switches can be combined into one single unit. So if you need to scale network, you can choose stackable switches which is more helpful to manage and troubleshoot. Well, I’d like to recommend another 48-port 10Gbase-T switch to you. Cisco SG350XG-48T is one of Cisco 350X series switches which are truly stackable. It has two combo ports, one for copper and one for fiber. This switch can be stacked up to 4 units, 192 10Gbase-T ports in one single unit. When combining switches into a stack, don’t just connect all these devices. Remember to make the stack work normally. It’s not easy to match all stackable switches. If you don’t know how, you should follow experts’ guidelines to do the configuration.

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