Monday, December 24, 2012

New Kid on the Block

Juniper made a hefty investment last week with its acquisition of the little known startup: Contrail Systems. Contrail had been on the market for a mere two days before Juniper made its move to obtain it. The price paid by Juniper for the company was marked at $176 million, quite the price for such a young group. A purchase of this magnitude seems bizarre at first glance, but with the Software Defined Networking (SDN) work Contrail focuses on it becomes very apparent why Juniper decided to make this expenditure. SDN companies have become the hot new technology that everyone wants to get in on; Contrail is just one of many who have seen interest from big IT companies. Though, it could be said that this purchase looks like a defensive move by Juniper in response to VMWare’s attainment of Nicira (another SDN company) a few months back. By making this move, Juniper might be looking to keep up with this emerging technology.

Software Defined Networking, while still in its infancy, is getting some major attention from big networking players like Cisco, IBM, VMware and the like. Basically, SDN makes use of software that allows IT personnel to create a network they can reconfigure quickly and centrally without having to fiddle with individual hardware, which is both costly and time-consuming. This blossoming technology promises to offer companies significant savings by making their networking systems more efficient while at the same time cutting out the need for expensive routers and switches.

What this means for IT departments is more freedom to choose between vendor hardware. At Approved we are blown away by how many Arista coded SFP+’s we’re selling now in such a short period of time as they crush Cisco in most environments price per port. Arista doesn’t support a lot of L3 functions, no BGP, and no IPv6, but they seem to be disrupting Cisco and others on top of rack, large and small clients, international orders as well.

-The Approved Optics Team

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Expanding Enterprise

Cisco Systems Inc. disclosed a deal this week with PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk. This deal will allow Cisco to deploy approximately 100,000 access points across Indonesia which can be used to offload mobile data and offer more efficient wireless broadband services. A spokesman for Cisco explained, "This will be the largest deployment of Wi-Fi access points by a single service provider in Asia." Cisco’s latest strategy is just one of many new ideas it is employing as it looks for a way to offer high speed data services to a broader customer base. The company is showing how serious it is in the world of carrier Wi-Fi as it is also planning to acquire Meraki Networks Inc. in an effort to further stake a claim in the wireless community.

Aside from expanding into Asian markets and the wireless field, Cisco is also in the process of transitioning into a full-fledged IT vendor as opposed to the communications vendor it is today. Cisco’s CEO, John Chambers, announced that most of their future sales would be greatly diversified with services. Chambers hopes that the company will see a 25% or higher increase in revenues from services within the coming years. While that number might not seem like the largest figure, it does indicate a significant shift in the company’s business model. Moreover, Chambers is banking on his company’s ability to think big as they move toward the future. In a constantly evolving market, companies with the foresight to look ahead stand a far greater chance for smoother and more profitable futures

-The Approved Optics Team

SFP+ Cable Distances defined by Core Size and Band Width

Did you know a standard SFP+ SR supports a link length of only 26m on standard Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI)-grade multimode fiber (MMF). Using 2000MHz*km MMF (OM3), links up to 300m link lengths are possible. Using 4700MHz*km MMF (OM4), up to 400m link lengths are actually possible.

Distances of MM SFP+ 10G SR's

Core Size (Microns)
Modal Bandwidth (MHz*km)***
160 (FDDI)
200 (OM1)
500 (OM2)
2000 (OM3)
4700 (OM4)
Cable Distance

Distances of LRM's


Friday, November 30, 2012

Profits Look Rocky In Quarter 3

The third quarter has many businesses in a bit of a slump as far as profits are concerned.  Calix, a major supplier in the telecommunication equipment industry, was one of these businesses.  The company released a statement earlier this month showing a significant decrease in revenue by 2.8% from this time last year.  It wasn’t all bad news for Calix though.  President Carl Russo pointed out that revenue might be down, but there is still growth compared to the last quarter. 

Calix isn’t the only company that has seen major losses going into the third quarter.  Applied Micro Circuits Corporation joins the group of companies struggling with revenue.  The optical communications and computer data storage company released a detailed financial report with losses clearly stated at a 33% drop in profit from last year.   Applied Micro faces a tough year ahead.

Despite difficulties for the above mentioned corporations, there is one company now on the rise.  Comcast Corp. made the choice to serve businesses that employed more than twenty individuals.  By moving up-market and serving larger companies, Comcast has seen a sizeable increase in revenue.  The Vice Chairman and CFO reported earnings of over ninety million alone from these mid-sized companies, or about fifteen percent of the total revenue produced by business service customers. Overall Comcast has seen a thirty four percent rise in business services revenue. With profits steadily rising, Comcast is poised to make record profits by year's end. 

-The Approved Optics Team

Monday, October 15, 2012

House Intelligence Committee on Oversees Sellers

Earlier this week the U.S. House Intelligence Committee released a detailed report warning U.S. companies against Huawei and ZTE. Reuters and other news sources reported that these two companies have been classified as potential threats to U.S. security due to their close ties with the Chinese government. Companies that had used Huawei equipment reported allegations of unexpected behavior, including routers allegedly sending data to China late at night. While the committee did not go as far as banning the companies, it did urge American businesses to avoid Huawei and ZTE in their telecommunication projects. This new report has made it even more difficult for the two companies to expand in the U.S. market. 

The biggest concern brought to light by the committee, as outlined in the report, was that allowing Chinese organizations access to the telecommunications networks in the U.S. could compromise the nation’s infrastructure. A key part of the report was that the country’s infrastructure is highly interconnected and includes everything from rail networks to water systems. The report indicated that a disruption in one could have a ripple effect that could compromise many others. 

"Throughout the months-long investigation, both Huawei and ZTE sought to describe, in different terms, why neither company is a threat to U.S. national-security interests. Unfortunately, neither ZTE nor Huawei have cooperated fully with the investigation, and both companies have failed to provide documents or other evidence that would substantiate their claims or lend support for their narratives," "Huawei, in particular, provided evasive, nonresponsive, or incomplete answers to questions at the heart of the security issues posed. The failure of these companies to provide responsive answers about their relationships with and support by the Chinese government provides further doubt as to their ability to abide by international rules," stated the report.

-The Approved Team

Monday, October 1, 2012

From Neighborhoods to Fiberhoods

The FTTH Council convened in Dallas on Monday to update the community on the progress of fiber-to-the-home networks all across North America. Their report emphasizes running fiber directly to individual homes, so FTTC (fiber-to-the-curb) and FTTN (fiber-to-the-node) were not represented in the report. The findings of the report indicated a very bright future for the fiber optics industry in this country and North America as a whole. Though, this information should come as no surprise to those in the field as the need for products and services in the fiber optics world have been steadily increasing over the last decade.

With nearly nine million homes already connected, up from around six million in 2010, growth in this sector seems poised to make large bounds. An estimated 24 million homes passed (homes passed being the number of homes where a fiber connection is available, such as a homeowner with a pre-existing connection, or that could call and order a connection) have shown a gain of about ten percent in the last six months alone.

Reasons for this growth could be that many larger companies have come aboard the fiber train, chief amongst them Verizon and its Fios internet. Google as well has stepped into the scene with its fiber network as it is now finally being deployed in Kansas City, and AT&T is increasing the number of homes being developed with FTTH compatibility. Although, it would be negligent not to mention the contribution smaller companies are making to get both current and future residences fiber ready. While these companies are making some rather remarkable strides, one has to remember that in the grand scheme of things this technology is still a fledgling one compared to the infrastructure of other communication technologies. Nonetheless, it is one that has and will continue to show growth in North America and across the globe.

According to the president of RVA LLC (the market research firm in charge of tracking FTTH data for the council), Michael Render, it was revealed that the number of parties interested in FTTH services had risen to 44% in the US alone. Statistics such as this strongly imply a positive trend for the community. As the rise in companies and organizations interested in fiber optics grows, so too will demand for high quality components for the industry. Knowing this, we here at Approved Optics have taken the steps necessary to provide quality products to this industry.

Approved Optics is a company fully prepared to fulfill the needs that this growing market demands. With an emphasis on quality, Approved tests all of its products and includes a lifetime warranty for your peace of mind. Fiber to the home will one day be as commonplace as copper wiring is today. While the execution of such a monumental task may seem daunting, it is a necessary step towards progress, progress that Approved Optics is proud to be a part of.
-The Approved Optics Team

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

100G Coming to the Forefront

The European Conference on Optical Communications (ECOC) came to a close a few days ago. In its wake it leaves a bounty of information for what's to come in the world of communications. As the biggest European event on optical communications it is a hub for those in the fiberoptics technology industry.
Some of the biggest highlights this year came in the form of 100G modules and companies like JDSU and Oclaro rushing to get these news modules out on the market. This comes as good news for companies looking to meet the demands of a world demanding faster and more efficient communication.
Sunset Digital is one such company that hopes to make use of 100G technology. The company seeks to create a backbone out in Tennessee, one that will serve to bring broadband services to those in more rural and impoverished areas. With the aid of a 24 million dollar award from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Sunset Digital is able to move forward with these plans.
To meet these ends, Sunset has brought in the services of Ciena Corp. and had them deal with the logistics of the operation. It hopes that they will be able to service delivery, service visualization, and monitor the network as a whole during the transition.

-The Approved Optics Team

Up on Optics

The private sector takes another giant leap into space with Laser Light Communication’s plan to launch a new OSS (optical satellite system).  The new satellite network is expected to be up and fully operational by the middle of 2017.  Laser Light believes its network to be amongst the first of its kind, a system compromised entirely on optical wave technology independent of the need to communicate with the use of radio waves.  The company stated that it wishes to link its system with the global fiber network enabling them to have a coalesced fiber network.  This network would allow for unseen levels of coverage surpassing any system of its kind.
UTEL is planning to release a new product that will revolutionize the way problems are solved in passive optical networks.  The UK based research and development lab dubbed its new product Fast Light, the hope is that this new technology would allow service providers to detect and repair any problems that may arise within its systems both rapidly and efficiently as Lightwave indicates.  Not only does Fast Light have the ability to detect problems within a system, the product also runs tests and fixes issues within the network before customers even have an indication of a problem arising.
Earlier this week Google announced they were ready to move forward with their plans to bring Kansas City to the forefront of internet services.  Google Fiber, as it was deemed, seeks to bring the internet to as many people as possible as its primary goal.  This being Google of course, it hopes to outdo the competition by providing internet that is up to 100 times faster than the average broadband services available today.  So fervent are Google’s ambitions to bring internet for the masses that they are evening offering packages for free internet services at the mere cost of a construction fee.  They’ve also been setting up events for locals in Kansas City as a means of educating those less inclined to venture into the online world on the advantages a service like this could provide for them and the relevancy of the internet in today’s world.  Such an ostentatious plan might seem overwhelming to some, but Google’s track record speaks for itself.  Let’s just hope their foray into the world of ISPs isn’t a repeat of their foray into the social media department.
Affordable high powered internet in every home, self repairing fiber optic cables, and a satellite network enabling a greater connection for millions; we live in the future.
-The Approved Optics Team

Monday, July 30, 2012

Cisco’s WARNING – Error Message Shows Customer is Protected

The Cisco Customer’s Chassis and Smart Net service level is protected by the anti-Monopolistic Magnusson-Moss Act when 3rd party optics are installed (as is the case with all platforms, not just Cisco).  Let’s look closer at what their legal department carefully conveys when a non-Cisco optic is detected in the chassis.  (It is important to know that this below message does not come up when our optics are installed because Approved Optics are plug and no error message).
The below ‘warning” unsupported-transceiver message shows that Cisco is VERY AWARE of the Magnusson-Moss Act protection on the chassis, and they are careful not to deny service based on a working 3rd party Transceiver or they can be sued!

 Warning: When Cisco determines that a fault or defect can be traced to
 the use of third-party transceivers installed by a customer or reseller,
 then, at Cisco’s discretion, Cisco may withhold support under warranty or
 a Cisco support program. In the course of providing support for a Cisco
 networking product Cisco may require that the end user install Cisco
 transceivers if Cisco determines that removing third-party parts will
 assist Cisco in diagnosing the cause of a support issue

The above language is used to confuse and intimidate an engineer who is not clear on their warranty rights.   As you can see, Cisco is claiming they will require a Cisco transceiver or “may” withhold support ONLY when it is determined that a fault or defect can be traced to the 3rd party transceiver.  This means that the transceiver MUST BE FAULTY (and they must prove it), otherwise they CANNOT lower their service level on any part of the chassis or OS if there is a working 3rd party optic in the port.   They can ONLY suggest original replacement if the part is NOT FUNCTIONING.  What most engineers realize is that the antidote to a non-functioning 3rd party optic is the same antidote to a non-functioning original Cisco optic, simply pop another one in.
So to summarize, in a TAC scenario, if the customer has an original Cisco transceiver installed and it degrades or falters, the Cisco support professional will suggest that the customer replace it.  If the same thing happens with a 3rd party optic, and they can determine that the optic is faltering, they ‘may’ require the end user to replace the part.  Again, this is the same thing they would do if it was a Cisco branded part.   When the customer simply replaces the faltering optic with a working optic, CISCO CANNOT DENY ANY SOFTWARE OR HARDWARE SERVICE OR THEY ARE LEGALLY LIABLE.
What our customers have realized is that the lowest common denominator to saving 10’s of $1000’s of dollars on optics, comes down to the fact that if an optic is failing, whether it’s Cisco or 3rd, the antidote to insuring TAC service on the chassis is to simply replace the failed optic with a spare.  Customers have been doing this for years.  It is the exact same process and nothing has to be changed.
You will also find that although Cisco Sales Reps and Engineers will verbally warn someone from saving money on optics and sight the ‘smartnet risk’ with doing so, they will never put it in writing, otherwise Cisco could be sued.  You will also find that Cisco support professionals will never mandate the replacement of 3rd party optic in writing when they are not absolutely sure it’s the optic, because this also opens them up for liability.  If the optic is bad, Cisco original or 3rd, the antidote is the same, simply replace it.  Most of our customers don’t bother keeping a Cisco original spare around.  The Magnusson-Moss covers the spar that is used as well.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Distances of your Approved Cisco Optics

The Distances of your Approved Cisco Optics:

We have been getting a lot of questions recently about the true maximum distances of our optics and wanted to spend some time going over the technical details. It seems some vendors have been touting a 1 km distance on their Multi-Mode Optics, but that is not always the case.

Technically, and like some our competitors would suggest, our 1GB Multi-Mode Optics (Like a GLC-SX-MM, SFP-GE-S, GLC-SX-MMD, GLC-SX-MM-RGD) can achieve a distance of 1 km. However, it depends entirely on the quality of your fiber. To reach 1 km you would need to use laser-optimized 50 µM multimode fiber cabling. Which, as many of our data centers would attest to is more than rare; most people aren't running a mile of laser-optimized multimode fiber. If you are, then by all means our 1GB Multi-mode products for Cisco and even Juniper, Brocade, etc are for you. But more often than not, the following information will be more accurate:
"The 1000BASE-SX SFP, compatible with the IEEE 802.3z 1000BASE-SX standard, operates on legacy 50 μm multimode fiber links up to 550 m and on 62.5 μm Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI)-grade multimode fibers up to 220 m."
"The 1000BASE-LX/LH SFP, compatible with the IEEE 802.3z 1000BASE-LX standard, operates on standard single-mode fiber-optic link spans of up to 10 km and up to 550 m on any multimode fibers. When used over legacy multimode fiber type, the transmitter should be coupled through a mode conditioning patch cable."
That being said, most transceivers will operate effectively at 10-12% further distances than stated in our data sheets...but that will always be contingent on the quality of your cabling.

For questions, please don't hesitate to call us. We are always available: 800.590.9535.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

OEM, Approved Optics and Internet Brokers

There are many differences between OEM, Approved Optics and Internet “Manufacturers” of optical transceivers. As one of the oldest third party distributors of optical transceivers, the three areas our clients always focus on are: price, availability and compatibility. At Approved Optics we believe quality is the backbone of our success and that quality permeates evenly between price, compatibility and availability.
The truth is Price is always an issue; whether  you are buying a car or skateboard price is always on the forefront of your buying decision. So why is there such a price difference between the OEM (Cisco, Juniper, HP, IBM), Approved Optics and other Internet Distributors?
Lets look at Approved Optics in comparison to the OEMs. Lets take Cisco for this discussion. By purchasing Approved Optics part number: GLC-SX-MM-A compared to Cisco’s GLC-SX-MM you would save 90% off of Cisco’s Best Customer Pricing. Why is that? Is Cisco’s manufacturing process that much different than Approved Optics? Well no, actually Approved Optics doesn’t manufacturer optical transceivers, never has…. but neither does Cisco. The truth is Cisco has never built its own Optical Transceivers (Or memory or cables either). A designated Contract Manufacturer builds the transceivers for Cisco. Cisco purchases the transceivers preprogrammed with their code on them and ships for fulfillment, sometimes straight from these factories.
Approved Optics has a unique relationship with the exact same Contract Manufacturers that build for the OEM’s such as Cisco. We purchase the same MSA Spec, OEM quality optical transceivers that Cisco does. So why the price difference if both Approved Optics and Cisco are buying from Contract Manufacturers? Is it because of testing? No (and we will get into that a little later). Are we buying them that much Cheaper? No, We actually purchase our product for much more than a huge OEM like Cisco does. So, why? It is quite simple.
Cisco charges 1000% more because it can. The ridiculous amount Cisco charges for its optical transceivers are well documented (read: Cisco Secret Franchise). Cisco’s profit margin and stock price are directly related to a product accessory they did not design, develop or manufacture. In a sense, there’s nothing truly wrong with this, they have done an excellent job of taking their strong Ethernet position and extracting value out of what is a commodity device. They threaten with the loss of SmartNet (Illegal – because of the Magnuson-Moss Act) and even go so far as putting anti-competitive coding on standard transceivers (Illegal – see Your Rights) in what has been an incredible retention of their margins.
So now we know Approved Optics’ transceiver line carries the highest level of quality in discrete hardware, algorithm/firmware, serial number sequence, packet integrity, and light strength… for all intensive purposes the same exact product as the OEM at a fraction of the cost. What separates Approved from the other online “manufacturers” out there? Everything.
Approved Optics is unique in our industry, we are priced affordably but program and test our product more extensively than the actual OEM’s (Remember: They purchase pre-programmed from their Contract Manufacturer) and certainly more than online resellers, refurb broker or memory manufacturers that have added the line to their offerings. No company has the extensive programming experience and test facilities like we do at Approved.
Why is programming so important? As we mentioned before, it is because Cisco and other manufacturers have placed specific attributes and firmware on the EEProm of the transceivers for it to function properly in their particular switch platform. It’s part of their margin retention efforts! They take a standard MSA Spec part and code it so they can charge 10x’s more than a part by a third party supplier. It’s great for them and bad for you! What Approved does is engineer the unique, independent code to work within their unique platforms. It’s engineering and it’s what we do! No other transceiver vendor does this to the extent of our capabilities, not the CM’s, they can’t; they are under contract with the Network OEM’s that they build for.
Being a programmer of transceivers leads us to the most important part in Approved’s Quality Process: testing. Since Approved purchases transceivers from Tier One Contract Manufacturers then programs them in-house, the only way to make sure they are 100% compatible in the platform they are intended for is to test them in the actual switch or router they are intended for. What this means, is that Approved has one of the largest multi-environmental testing labs that facilitates the testing and operation of hundreds of switches and routers spanning over 40 Network Equipment Manufactures, including: Cisco, Juniper, Force 10, IBM, HP, Brocade and on. It’s a huge expenditure for us and an incredible benefit for you. Purchasing an Approved Optical transceiver means you are purchasing a product that is Guaranteed Compatible in the system you intend to use it in. We aren’t a middleman like most of the other suppliers out there who depend on overseas distribution from China for programming and testing. We are an engineering and test house - it’s what we do! It’s why we are the fastest growing transceiver vendor in the industry, and why we might not be as cheap as some of the Internet Brokers but offer Tier One Quality Transceivers at a fraction of the cost of the OEMs.
Lastly, and for many of our high-end Telco and Data Center Engineers who have purchased and evaluated our product over the years, most importantly is availability. Approved carries a huge amount of inventory. Since we program in-house, we must stock a large amount of product; this means we can offer same day shipping on almost our entire product line, as well as offer expedited shipments for constrained DWDM and CWDM transceivers that take the OEM sometimes 12 weeks to ship. We ship in days what many OEMs ship in months.
Quality. Compatibility. Availability. Price. They are the cornerstone of what have made us successful. Although we would never call ourselves smart, we sure make the Data Centers/Telco Engineers and Purchasing Departments that use us look smart. After all, that is our goal. Give us a call; we are more than just a pretty site. Approved Optics, For the Smart Data Center!