Using DACs and AOCs in Your Network Engineering Lab

For decades, copper direct attach cables (DACs) and active optical cables (AOCs) have been widely deployed in data centers, wiring closets, and server rooms to lower the cost and increase the reliability of short-reach intraoffice connections. In this article, we’ll explore another environment in which these cables can be extremely useful: the network engineering lab.

The Multi-Vendor Lab

Lab managers and network engineers often need to conduct interoperability tests in a multi-vendor environment to verify Layer 2 or higher networking protocol operations before widespread field deployment. Three such test environments could include:

  • Testing IP Multiprotocol Label Switching (IP/MPLS) functionality over a 100 Gigabit Ethernet (GE) link between a Cisco router and a Juniper switch
  • Preparing lab infrastructure for verifying VxLAN operations across 100GE Arista switches connected to several 25GE Intel servers
  • Validating IP phone operations between an Adtran switch and an Aruba switch.

One of the biggest challenges in these test scenarios is making that connection in a multi-vendor environment. The lab manager or network engineer may opt for optical transceivers compatible with the each required network platform, linked with a copper or fiber jumper cable. However, under these circumstances, multi-vendor DACs or AOCs are an easier, more cost-effective solution.

Unique Programming Capabilities

Champion ONE’s DACs and AOCs can have one end’s EEPROM programmed to be compatible with one vendor, while the other end is programmed for compatibility with a second vendor. For example, these solutions are available for the scenarios listed above:

  • 100G Ethernet DAC or AOC, programmed for Cisco and Juniper at each end
  • 100G to 4x25G breakout DAC or AOC, programmed for Arista at the 100G end, and for Intel at the 25G ends

DACs and AOCs programmed for Adtran and Aruba, respectively

transceiver and DACs and AOCs price and connectivity comparison

Champion ONE’s multi-vendor DACs and AOCs provide a plug-and-play alternative to optics and cables, which can reduce test setup time and simplify the setup process. Additionally, their low power draw makes them an attractively cost-effective option when used over time. The scenarios listed above are only a small fraction of our extensive programming capabilities. To learn more about these capabilities, contact us today.

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