Category Archives: Fiber Optic Switch

Can A Computer Connected to the PoE Switch?

PoE switches are commonly used in various networks. It can be low-cost unmanaged edge switches with a few ports or complex multi-port rack-mounted units with sophisticated management. When used in small or home networks, many people may wonder if it can be connected directly with a computer. This post will discuss this question in details.

What Are PoE and PoE Switch

Before the discussion, it is necessary to have a basic understand of what are PoE and PoE Switch:

PoE

As demands for connection from networking devices such as IP phones, IP cameras and access points increase, deployment complexity and cost rise as well. For less cable usage and investment, Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology is developed to provide both data connection and electrical power to devices through just one Cat5/Cat5e/Cat6 cable.

PoE Switch

PoE switch is a network switch that has Power over Ethernet injection built-in, which can transmit both power and data through an Cat5/Cat5e/Cat6 Ethernet cable at the same time. This kind of switch makes it easy for different sectors to deploy powered devices like VoIP phones, wireless access points and IP surveillance cameras in challenging places like ceilings, walls, outdoors, or wherever electrical outlets are not easily available.

poe switch connection

Can A Computer Connected Directly to the PoE Switch?

As shown below,PoE switch usually have the same RJ45 port as a computer. So many people will think they can be connected directly. But do not forget that PoE switch may also transmit electrical power through the RJ45 port and Cat5/Cat5e/Cat6 cable to the computer. Then can a computer be connected directly to the PoE switch? This is largely depend on the switch you have:

poe switch

If you have a PoE switch that conforms to 802.3af (the PoE standard) or 802.3at (the PoE Plus standard) and doesn’t claim to be “passive”, you can definitely connect your computer with it. This is because this kind of PoE switch has the function of PoE detection which is designed to avoid damage to non-PoE devices. In other words, when you connect other network devices to your PoE switch, it will communicate with the these devices whether they need power or not. Power is only injected if and when this negotiation is successful. Ethernet devices such as phones and access points are detected by the switch as accepting PoE and will receive the additional power feature from the PoE switch/port. Whereas a computer and other non-PoE devices will not be detected as having PoE capability and will just use the data communications features of the port.

computer connect to poe switch

However, there exists a class of PoE switches, usually referred to as “passive” or “always on”, which supply power without PoE detection. Why would anyone do this? Because this kind of PoE switch is significantly cheaper. Whether it damages your device depends on the voltage of the passive PoE switch and your devices. For a computer, it may be damaged for excessive voltage or current.

Conclusion

PoE switch is a dedicated device that contains multiple Ethernet ports to provide power and network communications. It is usually used in NVR/IP camera networks. For small or home networks, if you want to connect a computer to the PoE switch, make sure your switch follows the standard 802.3af or 802.3at PoE requirements. So can you connect a computer directly to your PoE switch?

10G Ethernet: 10GBASE-T or 10G SFP+?

10GBASE-T has been available as an add-in card in servers, switches and network interface cards (NICs) since 2008, and it has been widely adopted since 2012. It is highly praised for its advantages which include lower cost than 10G fiber, cost-efficiency of using existing MAC (Media Access Control), easier migration from 1GBASE-T to 10GBASE-T, and the ability to deliver PoE (Power over Ethernet). Does that mean we should all turn to use 10GBASE-T now? And what are the 10GBASE-T cable requirements? Every application differs, let’s see some specific cases in short-reach applications.

10G copper or fiber

Where Can 10GBASE-T Be Used?

When building a 10G network, the link can be either copper or fiber. If using 10GBASE-T cable, the places are required to be in the Data Center or Horizontal areas (in building, including wiring closet). But it is not suited for Vertical (riser links) applications within building, or campus & metro applications.

Cases for 10G Ethernet Connections

Case 1: Connecting a switch with only SFP+ ports to a switch with only 10GBASE-T ports.

10GBASE-T cable 1

When the distance of these two switches are less than 30 m, which is the max. link distance for 10GBASE-T copper SFP+ module, the desired connection for them can be made by using a 10GBASE-T module and a Cat6a cable. It’s the simplest solution for this case.

Case 2: Connecting two switches with only 10GBASE-T ports.

10GBASE-T cable 2

Connecting two switches with all 10GBASE-T ports are as simple as placing the plug into its mating socket. One Cat6a Ethernet cable is born for such a connection and that is why it is called the standard 10GBASE-T cable. By using a Cat6a cable for 10GBASE-T, it can reach up to 100m distance.

Case 3: Connecting two switches with only SFP+ ports.

10GBASE-T cable 3

There are three choices for connecting two complete SFP+ switches. For distances between 30 m to 400 m, it is recommended to get two 10GBASE-SR SFP+ modules for each switch and connect them with a OM3/4 LC duplex multimode fiber patch cable. The second is to use two 10GBASE-T SFP+ modules and Cat6a cable. If the link is as short as 7 m, it is suggested to use a low cost 10G SFP+ direct attach copper (DAC) cable.

Case 4: Connecting switches with both SFP+ and 10GBASE-T ports.

10GBASE-T cabling 4

When the two switches both have SFP+ and 10GBASE-T ports, you will be free to use methods from Case 1 to Case 3 above. But in my experience, it would be better to use the 10GBASE-T copper ports first, and save the SFP+ ports for possible future connections to an optical network for longer transmission distance.

Words in the End

10GBASE-T is taking its way to being more extensively used on network gears without a doubt, and cost for deploying 10GBASE-T equipment will be lowered with its wide spreading. Know the requirements for 10GBASE-T cabling is necessary for correctly choosing between 10GBASE-T or 10G SFP+ in practical usage. After all, cost-efficiency is very important in large-scale deployment.

The Rise of White Box Switch

White-box switching is nothing new to us. ODMs (original design manufacturers) have been building hardware for well-known vendors for many years. These vendors take the ODM hardware, install their operating system, and sell the unit as a bundle, often attaching a support contract. Until now many companies like FS are also getting into the game of producing white-box switches. White-box switches look just like any other switch, which are gaining increasing attention in next generation data center deployments, with many software-defined networking (SDN) startups offering solutions that include them. Enterprises are wondering how white-box switches will impact their data center plans. So what is a white box switch?

What Is a White Box Switch?

white box switch

A white box switch is a network switch which comes with an installed operating system. It can be used as a standard for the base of hardware system elements. In the case of operating systems, white box switches are generally preinstalled on the system, or can be installed later. Loading of the white box switch is not difficult and can be done in a short period of time. They are generally used with SDNs and particularly useful in terms of a networking approach where the control is generated from the physical infrastructure after decoupling it. It can act as an efficient open-source tool for management of materials and information on a device.

And the major difference between traditional black box switch and white box switch is that the first one can’t be programmed but the later one can be programmed. With white box switches, a service can be programmed by using switch controller like ONOS while traditional black box switch provides very limited features and every time when you need to update something you have to log into switches and then change the rules. The white box switches are flexible, fast and inexpensive, which is why many opt for this type of switch.

Reasons for Buying White Boxes

Although white box switches have been around for years, the adoption has been limited to niche companies that have large engineering departments. The rise of software-defined networking (SDN) has brought them into the public eye, though, as a lower-cost alternative to traditional network hardware. In fact, some of the early messaging around SDN revolved around using white boxes as a complete replacement for all network hardware. Besides, many improvements have been made in white boxes during the past few years. So if you ask me why it is the time of white box switches and why you should buy white box switches. Here I’ve got a number of reasons for you:

  • 3-year ROI. A low-cost product can get ROI (return on investment) in less time and be replaced sooner. Faster hardware rotation equals more innovation/feature adoption.
  • Software bugs. Vendors take months to locate, accept, and fix bugs, which has enormous impact on your business. With OCP-compliant white boxes, you can switch software and keep your business alive, or work around slow vendor support.
  • Self-sparing. For some/most use cases, self-sparing is better than relying on vendor inventory. When products are cheap, you can hold inventory in your data center and bring MTTR down to hours instead of days.
  • Cost and reliability. What the customer is often paying for is the software that rides on top of the hardware and the logo. From a reliability standpoint, white boxes are on par with brand-name systems because they are actually the same hardware.
  • SDN. Move your operational focus from a vendor-specific CLI to an SDN solution. If you’re concerned about having multiple vendors to operate, then buy a SDN solution that is device independent.
  • Network operations. Many engineers may ask questions like “Do I have to write my own operating system?” “How do I install a network operating system” “What do I buy?” when considering a white box switch. Now, they can be reassured because white boxes can now be purchased from mainstream network vendors such as FS and HP. Also, when one purchases a white box, those suppliers will offer the kind of technical support most engineers need.
Conclusion

White boxes are certainly ready for mainstream adoption. Although they aren’t for every use case, but in the right situation, like an SDN deployment, they can be as good or better than traditional switches with a much lower price point and equivalent operational costs. If you want to purchase one, you may visit FS.COM where you can find the best-value and cost-efficient white box switch.