What you should know to choose a data center OTDR

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With the technological evolution occurring in datacenters, test requirements dramatically changed for the ber networks that connect mission-critical servers, networking and storage devices. Selecting the proper OTDR to test your network not only strengthens its reliability, but also improves how quickly and ef ciently the job is done, as well as documenting the quality of work. Here are some recommended criteria to consider, aside from the basic OTDR testing capabilities.

1. A simpli ed and task-focused user interface: Populating a datacenter with thousands of tested bers is an enormously time- consuming job. Maintaining ber health is just as challenging and makes fast troubleshooting critical. Almost every OTDR on the market today is designed to cover carrier applications. As a result, many have very complicated user interfaces, which require the user to grapple with numerous buttons and controls and navigate cumbersome multi-level menus. While this is suitable for the ber enthusiasts who test Telco ber on a daily basis, it’s a different story for enterprise network technicians. An OTDR designed around the enterprise work ow, with an intuitive user interface, greatly improves operating ef ciency. Simple-to-use test equipment shortens the learning curve, reduces testing time and ultimately saves money.

2. Precision ber channel information: With the increasing use of short patch bers and multi- ber connectors, details on every link—loss, connector, and re ectance—are critical to ensuring performance. OTDRs with an attenuation dead zone of more than 3 m are no longer applicable for testing datacenter ber. Ultra-short dead zones are needed to nd issues that jeopardize the link loss budget or cause serious signal degradation. In addition, fast problem resolution requires that faults and events be presented in a simple, graphical map so users at various skill levels can ef ciently perform ber troubleshooting and accelerate network recovery.

3. Effective planning and documentation: As datacenters grow and change, coordinating projects and ensuring that all bers are installed with certi ed quality is challenging. There are a number of software applications available for project management, but until recently none have been integrated with an OTDR. Integrated project management capabilities with cable-by-cable granularity can save time and planning effort. Look for an OTDR with built-in project management capability that allows you to plan day-to-day activities without using a PC or laptop. You should be able to use a single tool to control, monitor, consolidate and document all test results.

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