Q

Using dark fiber to connect sites

SAN expert Greg Schulz discusses single-mode and multimode fiber optic cabling.

My library is at location X and my SAN switch at location Y. They are 13 km apart. I'm using 9um dark fiber to connect the sites. Is it possible to patch from the dark fiber panel to a shortwave cable and then to the SAN switch?

Generally speaking, to go from a multimode fiber (MMF) for short range to a single-mode (long-range) fiber optic cable requires an optic converter or mode-conditioning device. Common examples would be a Fibre Channel switch that has multimode ports for short-range and long-range GBICs or SFPs for attachment to single-mode fiber (SMF) cabling.

Another example is that some DWDM equipment can take MMF as input, and then output over dark fiber SMF and convert back to MMF at the other end. Mode conditioners or converters also exist, however, you may be restricted to certain speeds and distances.

You can learn more about fiber optic cabling in Chapter 5 "Fiber Optic Essentials" in my book "Resilient Storage Networks."

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How to use DWDM, SONET/SDH or IP based technologies for SAN extension?

This was first published in August 2006

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