Data Centre Physical Connectivity Innovation of the Year
Internet outages can have a devastating impact on business performance and reputation. 2019 alone saw large scale incidents with major companies such as China Telecom, Google Cloud and Apple which caused disruption globally.
And, as technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Machine to Machine (M2M) communications and artificial intelligence become increasingly integral to businesses, maintaining uptime of critical infrastructure is becoming more important than ever.
Network monitoring – the use of a system that constantly monitors and notifies a network for performance, usage, failing components, and outside threats – is now essential to ensuring company data stays secure and uptime is maintained.
One of the most effective methods of network monitoring is port tapping, a way of passively monitoring traffic being transmitted and received along a link in a network.
With a host of benefits including identifying performance issues and bottlenecks, viewing network usage, and troubleshooting systems, Corning is taking the lead in providing passive optical TAP (Traffic Access Point) modules through its 12-fibre based EDGE™ and 8-fibre based EDGE8® data centre solutions.
What exactly is novel about the product/process or innovation?
Corning’s EDGE and EDGE8 TAP modules are using fibre optic couplers (splitter) inside that divide the optical signal into two outputs, one for live link traffic and one for the monitoring link. The live traffic continues through the system link while the monitored traffic is sent to an active monitoring device.
TAPs are truly passive and do not add any additional load onto the live network. Because the device simply splits a signal instead of replicating it, a portion of the signal can be taken offline, or out of band, to conduct analysis of the input/output (I/O) traffic without affecting live applications.
Corning’s TAP modules enable passive optical tapping of the network while reducing downtime and link loss, and increase rack space utilisation and density compared to other optical monitoring options, as they can be integrated fully into the structured cabling.
Corning provides a variety of design options, based on its customers’ unique network needs and offers various split ratios to meet custom requirements. The modules are available in multiple configurations, including MTP®to-LC, LC-to-LC for today’s 10G networks, and MTP-to-MTP for port monitoring of 40G networks.
The key features include:
• Ease of deployment – Passive, purely optical splitters that don’t require power or configuration.
• Real time data transfer – The ability to make copies of all data in real time, with no traffic delays and without burdening the live network.
• Cost-efficiency – A low-cost, highly reliable way to provide data non-intrusively to network tools for multiple generations of optics.
• Convenience – Since TAPs are integrated into the structured cabling, they allow users to retain use of ports on network switches.
• Secure – TAPs aren’t part of the network, so they’re secure, reliable and can’t be hacked.
How does the product or process break with conventional ideas or processes in its field?
Unlike other passive optical tap solutions that must be added as separate devices in the network link, the EDGE/EDGE8 TAP modules integrate the coupler technology for passive optical tapping into a structured cabling component – the module.
This means that monitored ports can be added without disrupting the system’s live traffic, and insertion loss in the link is reduced by the integration of the passive optical tapping into the module.
EDGE and EDGE8 TAP modules use an advanced splitter technology for multimode to reduce insertion loss compared to traditional splitter technology.
Infrastructure flexibility, speed of deployment, and network uptime are just a few of the benefits offered by Corning’s integrated and advanced design.
How does it go beyond marginal improvements on something already exists?
The most common alternative method to extract data out of the network for analysis is SPAN (Switch Port for Analysis) technology which can have the following limitations:
• Causing network issues such as bridging loops, which sometimes occur during network refreshes
• SPAN ports do not receive all data; for example corrupt and improperly sized packets.
• Transceivers costs used for SPAN ports increases with every generation of optics
• Requiring two ports on network switches when monitoring full duplex
• Delaying the packet interaction and placing extra burden on the production network, as SPAN data has the lowest priority
By comparison, both EDGE and EDGE8 TAP modules enable passive optical tapping of the network while reducing downtime and link loss, and increase rack space utilisation and density – even compared to other optical tap options. Corning’s award-winning EDGE8 solution also includes the following features:
• Superior network scalability, improved link performance and 100 % fibre utilisation of a base-8 design.
• Increased asset utilisation, with reduced patch cord complexity and the elimination of stranded cabling assets.
• Technology adoption due to 100 % fibre utilisation without the need for conversion modules, which leads to cost and loss savings.
• Risk avoidance, providing a simple migration path to 40G, 100G and even 400G.
How do customers benefit from the product/process or innovation?
Maintaining uptime is a critical focus for businesses in order to maximise productivity and value for their IT networks and applications. A 2014 study from Gartner calculated the average cost of an IT outage at $5,600 per minute, and because there are so many differences in how businesses operate, downtime, at the low end, can be as much as $140,000 per hour, $300,000 per hour on average, and as much as $540,000 per hour.
Critical infrastructure performance means: hospitals can keep the network running to service patients and make sure surgeries can be arranged; banks avoid costly unplanned downtime and large ecommerce businesses prevent slowdowns that can lead to customers clicking elsewhere. Not only are the benefits in keeping the system up and running, but also in optimising processes to maximise efficiency and allow for faster time to market - invaluable for large manufacturing companies for example.
It is often wise to implement solutions that allow network monitoring without affecting live applications. Network monitoring when implemented optimally should allow individuals to see all network traffic including errors, regardless of packet size, in real time. EDGE and EDGE8 tap modules are invaluable here as they are truly passive and do not add any additional load onto the live network.
When installed in the infrastructure right from the beginning, customers can ensure that no unwanted downtime occurs as preventive measures can be taken beforehand with life data analysis.
As integrated TAP modules, they enable tapping into all links straight from implementation, with the option to only monitor the required links. As network monitoring requirements grow or change, network administrators can simply add the required cabling between installed TAP modules and corresponding network monitoring equipment.
Because there is no need to change any cabling infrastructure, there will be no disruption of the network.
Other key benefits include:
• Space efficiency – Integrated rear TAP ports mean no extra rack space is needed.
• Extended reach – High-performance multimode splitters reduce thin-film splitter loss, allowing for extended reach.
• Duplex polarity management – Universal polarity management allows for duplex polarity management when paired with universal module.
• Seamless integration – EDGE8®-based footprint integrates seamlessly into existing EDGE8 infrastructures.