We sometimes get into arguments over the most minute topics. For instance, people argue whether the toilet paper roll should feed over the top or from underneath. In the grand scheme, does it really matter?
There has been a lot of buzz lately about using PON (Passive Optical Network) in the enterprise. While I am not going to get into the pros and cons of using PON versus point-to-point Ethernet, it warrants mentioning the two main PONs in use today—EPON (Ethernet Passive Optical Network) and GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Network). Many of you will be scratching your heads asking, “EPON, what’s that?”
Most of you have only heard about GPON since that has been the PON technology chosen by cable television service providers; however, EPON may be a better choice for enterprise applications. Without getting into the nuts and bolts of the differences, suffice it to say that GPON is based on International Telecommunication Union (ITU) standards and is optimized for service provider use. EPON is based on familiar Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standards and is better suited for Enterprise use. Some will argue about the efficiencies of the framing, packets and payloads of each transport protocol; however, at the end of the day end users will not notice a difference.
What can make a difference are the implementation options. With EPON, if you choose optical line terminations (OLT) and optical network units (ONU) that are DPoE (DOCSIS provisioning of EPON) compliant, then you can mix and match equipment from multiple vendors and thus avoid vendor lock in.
Normally in a PON installation you rip out all the Ethernet distribution and edge switches, but if you use an EPON ONU that is small form pluggable (SFP)-based, then you can keep those brand new Ethernet switches and run PON on their uplinks.
And if you are contemplating the “need for speed” and require something faster than the relativity slow 2.5 gigabit per second downstream maximum bandwidth available on GPON, then you need to look at the 10G EPON products shipping in volume today.
Which way does the toilet paper in my house go? You’ll just have to visit me and find out.