On Monday, the challenge was set and I was given the task of finding out what this piece of kit was.

DWDM Mux/Demux

After hurriedly working through the ‘hair on a bad day’ and ‘subconscious alien life force’ thoughts I moved swiftly on to a Google search of the only written clue: DWDM.

Nice and easy – Dense Wave Division Multiplexing – which “combine or split particular wavelengths into a single fibre and are ideal for telecommunications and networking.” It turns out all the ‘bad hairs’ are just optic fibres similar to the ones on those cool colour changing lights you can get. These fibres transfer more than just light though, and they certainly don’t look as good as optic fibre lighting.

OK, so I know it is networking kit, some kind of communication tool. In an effort to maintain the momentum I bring up the DWDM Wikipedia page. Now that’s a scary place to be and only serves to prove that I was never meant to be a technical person. The question I’m asking now though, is what does this kit connect to?

A quick check with James reveals that he does in fact have two of these units in his pile of packages and a couple of small clues later (that’s me buying the biscuits for next couple of weeks) I’ve found out that we have some kind of transceiver module providing site to site bandwidth transfer.

I then learn that James and Tamas will soon be spending some time out of the office at our data centre units at Telehouse London and at LDeX to put these two new modules, among others, into place. My aim now is to find out what benefits this will provide to the Veber network. Another search of the key phrases identified earlier leads me to claims of “a flexible and highly available multi-service network” and the “integration of WDM transport with Gigabit Ethernet switches and routers.” What’s more, I discover three types of DWDM – sfp, mux, xfp.

DWDMHardware

But the images don’t match until I reach DWDM Mux/Demux. There it is, the alien with it’s bad fibre optic hair do! I then learn that DWDM Mux/Demux modules are designed to multiplex multiple DWDM channels into one or two fibres. What really shocks me, is that the common configuration is apparently 4, 8, 16 or 32 channels. A quick count of the white tabs on the front of the module I have reveals two lots of 32. So this little box can connect up to 32 devices with just one fibre to potentially another 32 at the other end. These modules passively multiplex the optical signal outputs from 4 or more electronic devices, then send them over a single optical fibre and before de-multiplexing the signals into separate, distinct signals for input into electronic devices at the other end of the fibre optic link. Or in a language I can understand, it takes lots of lines (eg. phone or computer lines) into the cloud, merges them into one and then splits them again at the other end in order to make the connection between them faster.

Why would you use a DWDM Mux/Demux module? To increase the fibre capacity between two sites (Telehouse, LDeX) without the need for installing or leasing additional fibres. A module can Multiplex and De-multiplex up to 32 DWDM channels into two fibres and combine passive 32 channel DWDM Mux and Demux to meet different needs with flexible configuration.

Conclusion – So my final guess is:

It’s a DWDM Mux/Demux module –
Because it’s the piece of kit that most closely matches the images I’ve found and its description best matches the clues I’ve been given about functionality.
So why have we bought two of them?  Because of the many business benefits of a DWDM fibre network:

  • It allows for a quick growth of the capacity on the existing routes.
  • It saves time and is more cost effective than laying new fibres.
  • We don’t have to replace or upgrade our existing systems.
  • In the long term it brings down costs as higher fibre capacity is easily available and there is no need for upgrading.
  • DWDM allows for faster data communication which in turn lets systems run their networks better and faster.
  • DWDM provides ultimate scalability and reach for fibre networks. Without the capacity and reach of DWDM systems, most Web 2.0 and cloud-computing solutions today would not be feasible.

Very similar to the story in the newspaper about Iomart but on a smaller scale

Have I got it?

Yes, I think I have. Quick pat of the back. Not bad for a first attempt. Comment below to let me know how I did. Veber Marketing Does Kit Part Deux here we come…

 

 

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