Media conversion is a critical network function for growing data centers, but too many purchase decisions are based solely on data sheet information or worse yet, from price lists. There is a difference in media converters and a strategic way to plan and implement them. The always increasing demand on data center networks requires constant upgrades to network size, reach and throughput levels. Trends such as virtualization, big data, cloud access and mobility are key factors behind an increase in demand for data center bandwidth. In this scenario of rapid change, media conversion is more important than ever to ensure connectivity, rapid service turn up and to maximize the cable plant investment.

This seven-part blog series will provide a glimpse beyond the speeds and feeds to other key factors data center operators need to consider when adding or expanding a media conversion system.

Today's topic: Make Purchase Decisions Based on Uptime Not Initial Price

There’s certainly value in getting a low cost media conversion system. But when taking the longevity of the products into consideration, it’s much less costly to pay slightly more for high quality products because they will provide longer, problem-free operation, and actually provide a reduced total cost of ownership. The time and money required to fix one failure can wipe out any savings initially achieved by buying the lowest price unit.

Today, I want to explore the best practice of making purchase decisions based on uptime, not initial price. Here are some things to consider when selecting a product that will provide the best network uptime:

  • Various firms offer quality ratings which measure how a product works out of the box and how it lasts over time. This is a good proxy for measuring uptime, so look for products in the 99.5% quality rating or higher range. Whenever a product causes your network to be down there is a real cost in terms of lost revenue and administrative time for repair.
  • Look for equipment that includes network management tools which provide the information needed to make IT administrators aware of network conditions that impact uptime. One key feature is packet counting - detecting changes in packet count can provide insight into data loss, network congestion, and broadcast storms. Media converters simplify your fiber integration, and they are available in low-cost unmanaged, as well as IP-addressable, fully managed variations.Managed media converters can provide that additional level of visibility to network conditions and performance.
  • Diagnostic management information (DMI) statistics on the fiber transmitters can also provide valuable information on your fiber ports, providing advance notice of a pending port failure, a link going down, or a trappable condition that needs attention. DMI can provide information on how strong the transmit function is as well as the sensitivity of the receiver. Monitoring these statistics provides early warning of any laser problems.
  • Another indicator is the media converter vendor’s history in the industry. A long tenure typically indicates a history of satisfied customers, resulting from a company’s expertise, ability to solve problems, and ability to provide high quality products and reliable service. Select a solution provider with longevity and proven expertise in improving network performance and optimizing existing infrastructure.
  • When something does go wrong, it’s important that qualified help is available so you can resolve the problem as soon as possible. Look for 24x7 customer support from trained engineers as a prerequisite for your purchase.

Considering the long-term operating costs of your media converter system will help in acquiring a system that optimizes the total cost of operation (TCO). This best practice, combined with products that are designed with the right network technology, can make the correct media conversion decision a lot easier. Stay tuned for more best practices on how to build the most strategic solution.