Suggestions on how to transition to fiber



  • Hey all,
    I love to learn new things, lately I've been wanting to transition some of my network over to fiber optic.

    I'd like to begin by saying that I have a small server rack in my room, with 3 boxes in it, and a gigabit switch. As the summer months approach, I'm concerned with heat, it has been far too hot in my room for my comfort, as well as the other boxes in the rack, the fans have been spinning up a lot lately.

    Anyways, my plan is to move my server rack into the basement, and bridge my room to the basement thru a fiber optic cable.
    –Now keep in mind, I know ethernet would more than likely work fine for this, but I'm looking to venture into new territory here.

    Presently, I have WAN1/WAN2 <-> PFSense <-> LAN
    My goal is to move all of it to the basement, the modems, the server rack & all of its contents, but keep my 16 Port Cisco Small Business gigabit switch in my room, because most of the wired devices on my network are in here.

    I'd like to run a fiber optic cable through duct from my room to the basement. Up to this point, I know whats going on. But the part where I become confused is what each end of the optical cable will look look.

    My current though is, to ditch one of the three Ethernet NIC's in the PFsense box, and replace it with a Fiber Optic PCI card, and in my room, I'd like to use either 1) A Gbit media converter, or replace my current switch with one with a built in fiber transceiver.

    I'd love some suggestions, and I'm willing to spend around 1000 bucks to complete the upgrade. And again, I realize that a cheaper solution would be easier, and more feasible.. But I'm in this for the learning experience.

    Thanks



  • A couple of thoughts:
    Many people have mentioned that using pfSense to do the job of a switch (your situation of adding a fiber NIC) is a less than optimal solution.  I would suggest you go with a switch that has a fiber port (or SFP, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_form-factor_pluggable_transceiver).

    The connection you will likely use will be LC duplex, like the third photo on the right http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_fiber_connector.  AFAIK this is the most common connector for shorter runs.  You can read all about the different fiber quality and maximum run lengths here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-mode_optical_fiber



  • Thanks for the input, should I be worried about compatibility between the pci-e fiber card and pfsense? I know Linux plays nicely with almost anything. But if anyone knows a little more, or has even tried using a fiber card with pfsense, and could provide some input, that would be great.



  • Go with the Intel NICs.  Basically, it's still GBe (and probably the same chipset) except that the transmission medium is changed from copper to fibre.

    i.e.  An Intel EF is the same as an ET NIC except that one rides on fibre whilst the other rides on copper.  Ditto for MF and MT.  So the driver is the same.



  • @dreamslacker:

    Go with the Intel NICs.  Basically, it's still GBe (and probably the same chipset) except that the transmission medium is changed from copper to fibre.

    i.e.  An Intel EF is the same as an ET NIC except that one rides on fibre whilst the other rides on copper.  Ditto for MF and MT.  So the driver is the same.

    Would you be able to provide me with some links to what I'm looking for here, and what's the fastest speed possible using that method?



  • Unless you move to 10gbps equipment, which would cost substantially more, then you will still be stuck at 1gbps.  The advantage to fiber is that it can run greater distances and can be run through existing ducts, plenums, etc.



  • @aasimbeck:

    Would you be able to provide me with some links to what I'm looking for here, and what's the fastest speed possible using that method?

    For PCI connectivity:  Intel MF Server Adapter (LC connector) or Pro/1000 XF Adapter (SC connector) or Pro/1000 XF Adapter (SC connector)

    For PCIe connectivity:  Intel PF or EF Server Adapter (Both LC connector)

    These are all Gigabit NICs.  Your limit would still be Gigabit ethernet.


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