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: Support For Operations, Administration, And Maintenance (OAM) Protocols

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 more cost effective to pay slightly more for high quality products because they will deliver longer, problem-free operation and actually provide a reduced total cost of ownership (TCO). The time and money required to fix one failure can wipe out any savings initially achieved by buying the lowest price unit.

In this post, I want to explore the best practice of leveraging a media converter solution that provides support for operations, administration, and maintenance (OAM) protocols.

For any application that requires service level agreements (SLAs), seek a media conversion solution that supports OAM protocols. OAM protocols come from telco class equipment, but with the demand for SLAs within data center networks, they are certainly an important requirement.

OAM examines information from the data link layer of each Ethernet packet to provide insight into link discovery, link monitoring, remote fault detection, and remote loopback. This data is used by network management to verify connectivity, detect faults, and monitor performance. Performance thresholds can also be set to trigger alarms when performance drops below a predetermined level.

The key OAM protocol is Y.1731, which has been standardized by the ITU Telecommunications Standards (ITU-T) section with additional interpretation work conducted by the Metro Ethernet Forum.

Considering the long-term operating costs of your media converter system will help in acquiring a system that optimizes the 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.