As virtualization and cloud applications become more and more prevalent in Data Centers, POPs, Head-ends, and Central Offices, the available rack space needed to house the equipment for these applications is shrinking. While the space needed to store, process, route, or switch the data becomes more compact, one thing that remains difficult to reduce is the physical layer infrastructure. As traffic enters or exits a facility, most providers want the capability to monitor what is being delivered or sent to/from their site. At the larger sites, this data traffic is riding on fiber, and in many cases, there are a number of fibers coming into or out of a given site. To be able to accurately monitor this traffic, a passive optical tap is used to duplicate the traffic and send it to a monitoring device that can analyze the header information native to the traffic type. In the past, these optical taps were relatively expensive and bulky. Even today, most vendors cannot provide more than 24 taps in a single 1RU footprint.
For most companies, the ideal scenario would be to not only have a lower cost, higher density optical tap solution, but also one that offers adequate customization for flexibility. For example, in some cases a company may want a 50:50 optical power tap ratio, while another may want a 90:10 ratio. Or, a company may have multiple monitoring devices each serving a different purpose, so more than a 1x2 splitter/coupler is required. Furthermore, some applications require single mode optical fiber, while others require multimode fiber, thus it is crucial to have a solution that can meet a wide array of requirements.
While the common approach has always been to add more chassis in order to meet varying levels of customization and/or higher density requirements, this is not a viable option when rack space is at a premium. Fortunately, some vendors have re-thought this situation and developed a new generation of optical tap solutions. As an example, the SplitLight HD from M2 Optics can accommodate up to 128, 1x2 splitters of varying power ratios and fiber types in single 1RU chassis. Compared to a traditional alternative with 10-20 total optical taps, this new solution can easily reduce the rack space required by 75% or more. How is this possible? Unlike most traditional optical taps which are very limited as a result of using standard connectors (LC or SC type), the SplitLight HD was designed in a unique way to incorporate multi-fiber MTP® connectors, which results in a much higher density in the same physical space.
With the increasing need for more sophisticated communications equipment to meet market demands, it is crucial that companies deploying and managing optical networks utilize solutions that help to maximize system performance, while also addressing equally important, related issues like rack space usage. By doing this and aligning themselves with partners that understand the challenges they face, these companies can continue to deliver high quality services for years to come.