Compatible Optics: Part I

Although optical transceivers are small in size, they are an integral part of network infrastructures and help organizations transfer data quickly and easily from one end user to another. As more companies look to save capital by buying optics from compatible hardware providers instead of OEM’s, it becomes increasingly important to ensure the quality of the optics.

By understanding what qualifications to look for in a compatible optics provider, organizations can rest assured they’ll conserve costs without sacrificing quality or network stability. IT departments should consider that with compatible optics, it is a case of expanding options while avoiding network failure.

While many of the providers (who shall remain nameless) lure buyers in by advertising that their optics are the best for the corporate network, this is not really accurate. Every corporate network is unique and requires different components. Therefore, there is not one correct answer for the corporate network arguably making the compatible optics market fragmented from the actual needs of reality within the organization. This fragmented approach is supported by many manufactures who simply charge more for optics by simply including a unique coding on the device.

Many of these expensive optics from well-known vendors do what they say on the box; however, as most IT departments know, you end up with an overpriced optic that effectively functions the same as a compatible optic—often with a lesser warranty.

Optic parts from compatible providers without the OEM’s coding are equally functional if they adhere to multi-source agreement (MSA) industry standards. The key to buying third party compatible optics is to ensure that if you are saving money on this area of the network, you are not sacrificing the quality used within the network as it is the quality of your optics that determines the compatibility of the corporate network.

Warranties and trust can play a large factor when choosing an optical supplier to suit the organizational requirements. There is very much a technological myth whereby customers are made to believe that using optical modules from a compatible provider will automatically void the warranty of other network equipment purchased through the manufacturer.  This, however, is not the case in many situations. For example, Cisco must be able to prove that optics from a compatible provider is faulty in order to withhold support against someone using third-party compatible optics.

To avoid any conflict between any official vendor regulations, organizations using compatible optics—such as ProLabs optics—should heavily vet any third party vendors they use. This research should include warranties, cost, inventory levels, and failure rates.

Check back later this week for Part 2 with our top tips for buying compatible optics.

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