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Industry Insights

Why I Don't Like the term “Future Proofing”

Monday, April 25, 2016 | by Cindy Montstream

You should be “Future Planning”…not “Future Proofing”. 

What’s the difference? The term “Future Proofing” implies a “solution that is guaranteed to support the customer’s needs well into the future” – i.e., that minimizes the effects of future developments. That isn’t enough! 

Customers should future plan. Planning implies strategy. Nobody knows where technology is going. Sometimes unforeseen events or developments change the path of technology. Depending on the direction of equipment manufacturers and other influencers, future applications could have any number of different requirements from cabling and infrastructure.

Just look at industry developments today. The 100GbE standard published by IEEE in 2010 specifies 10 lanes for transmitting and 10 lanes for receiving over multimode. Four years later, IEEE released 100GbE (100GBase-SR4) with a higher lane rate of 25Gbps.  This higher modulation rate reduces the total number of multimode fibers needed from twenty to eight – the same amount needed for 40GBase-SR4 (40GbE over multimode fiber at 850nm). 

IEEE started a project for a 400GbE standard in 2015 and started a project to look at 50GbE and 200GbE in early 2016. TIA is working on defining a Wide Band Multi-Mode Fiber (WBMMF) that will support up to four wavelengths, allowing for wavelength division multiplexing. This will allow four lanes over one fiber instead of requiring four individual multimode fibers. 40GbE and 100GbE (100GBase-SR4 version) will become a duplex transmission, or in infrastructure terms: two fibers with LCs. There is also the wild card variable of equipment manufacturers doing their own thing like CISCO with BiDi. Other transceiver manufacturers are creating transceivers that operate over both multimode fiber and single-mode fiber. Groups like the Ethernet Alliance, meanwhile, are developing applications outside of the IEEE standards. 

Technology is ever-evolving. Given this reality, customers should be applying strategy and “Future Planning” – not “Proofing” – for their success.