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Fiber Switch, which to buy?

I need to purchase a fiber switch for a secure area where the PCs will run over fiber NICs.  I have never purchased a fiber switch before so I'm getting confused (I may be confused for no reason but I thought I should double-check).

I simply need to purchase a LOW COST, fiber switch so a small LAN of computers (6) total can communicate using their fiber NICs.  

The computers will have the following fiber NICs installed:  

Allied Telesis AT 2701FTX/SC Network Adapter - AT-2701FTX/SC-901
http://www.buy.com/pr/product.aspx?sku=202493955

With that information, can you advise of a cheap 6 -8 port fiber switch that would work with those NICs.

I'm getting confused because I see Fiber switch, and Fiber Channel (SAN) Switches.  Not sure if they can be used interchangeably or not.  But I can confirm we will not have a SAN running at this location.  

This doesn't seem as straight forward as a standard Ethernet switch.  Because we have to drop ship it to the location I need to make sure I get it right the first time.

Thank you!
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derrickonline
Asked:
derrickonline
3 Solutions
 
DavidCommented:
Be specific what protocols/data are you attaching.  You have iSCSI, FDDI, TCP/IP, SAN, all sorts of things can fall under "fibre switch"..   If you try to save money, you risk ending up with something that can't talk.

Just because you have the same NIC doesn't mean that no matter what, anything will work.  
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derrickonlineAuthor Commented:
Exactly.  Therein lies the confusion.  We're not doing anything but TCP/IP.  But it's a secured government location which requires fiber only since Ethernet can leak data.  

So basically it's just a basic network, running Windows Server, Windows 7 Professional, domain controller, file server, etc.  Nothing special.

The thing is it has to be done over fiber.  That's it.  I don't know why if at all we need special protocols.  There's no SAN or anything else special involved.  
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IanThCommented:
I have seen fibre adapters used with a normal switch in government it depts
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derrickonlineAuthor Commented:
Ian:

Probably in a location that doesn't require a top secret security clearance.  
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DavidCommented:
You need to find out what kind of fibre, so you get the right GBIC or SFP adapter.  There is short wave, long wave, and several thicknesses (which don't typically make much of difference), but different kinds of physical connectors.   More expensive switches have removable "adapters", which lets you mix & match, mid-range have them pre-installed, some just use one adapter port and expect rest to be copper 10/100/1000.

Note that it shows "SC" connector.  while that is helpful, I doubt very much that they use SC connectors everywhere.  Find out.  Also SC can go with single-mode or multi-mode cabling, the data sheet doesn't say.  This matters.  Get them mixed up and the optics will literally melt.  (Plus, if you look into the beam on one of them, you will go to the eye doctor.. or you may be RUSHED to the doctor).  

Here is a nice link that you should read before calling customer and asking some questions.  It is possible that you or they even specified the wrong device due to distance limits, or the type of cabling they ran.  You don't want to even think about changing the connectors.

http://www.thefoa.org/tech/FAQS/FAQ-GENL.htm
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derrickonlineAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the info dlethe.  I think I'm going to circle back and see what switches they're presently using.  Thank you!
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DavidCommented:
Good plan.  Don't forget to ask about existing cabling.  Finally, not all GBICS/SFPs are compatible with all switches.  If you get one that hasn't been qualified, then it could result in anything from no-harmful-effects; to severe drop in performance; to it just not even working.   The GBICs/SFPs aren't cheap either, and they may have boxes full of them that you could use, potentially resulting in $500 extra profit if you can "use theirs".   But you need to verify that they are on the certified list.  

This is military, so you want to make sure your NIC vendor has an approved GBIC/SFP list that has at least one device in common with your switch vendor.  The compatibility is a much greater issue depending on distance and if you are using higher speed traffic like 8Gbit FC for disks, but it is all the same cabling, so this is where I see people going wrong.   CAT-5/6 cabling and ethernet can accommodate all sorts of bad behavior and even self-heal and work with non-compliant practices and cables that are swapped.

Light isn't as forgiving.
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DavidCommented:
(P.S. call up the manufacturer of the NIC, ask about FC switches and what they have CERTIFIED.   If they only certify their own stuff, then you may potentially have cost yourself $500, because the optical GBIC -> SFP onto the switch will probably cost twice as much as what you pay for their NIC.

If you go with a more mainstream NIC that has SFP connectors that is compatible with multiple vendors then you will save money, save the client money, and have more compatibility.  If you specified this card out of thin air, rethink it by asking what they have in the way of SFPs and equipment.  If they specified the NIC then, just ask what they use and source it, or better yet, let them source it with their gov discount and make a few dollars on setup. Good luck.  
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Craig BeckCommented:
You could use something like a Zyxel GS-4012F switch with Zyxel SFP-SX modules.  As long as the fibre NICs are 1000Base-SX compatible this will all work fine, but a quick call to Allied Telesis should clarify that (and I've never seen a NIC that doesn't work with these switches or modules).  Use SC-LC fibre patch cords to connect the NIC to the switch (62.5/125 OM2 will be ok).
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DavidCommented:
If you get the chance, follow-up with what you ended up using that is certified.  It will round out the database entry.  Good luck!
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derrickonlineAuthor Commented:
No problem will do.
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