We hear the term “future proof” far too much these days. Every manufacturer touts a future proof product. The actual meaning behind this seems lost now due to over use of the term!
It almost seems like the term is used to plant seeds of doubt.. What does the future hold?! .... Ewwww scary. Will the future have time travel? Maybe the future will be full of cold, calculating armies of ruthless robots? Are you future proofing?
Okay, you get the point. But with the term future proof being used so much it begs the question.
I was just recently noticing this during a presentation and it got me to thinking: Why should people care?
What does this actually mean in relation to fiber optics in the data center?
With those questions asked, it is pretty simple and the marketing speak can be replaced with actual data.
Performance is best measured in light loss of the fiber cable assembly. Light loss is measured in dB, the lower the dB the better the performance of the cable. In other words, the less light lost in an assembly the better the transmission properties of the assembly.
Think of it as a cleaner signal. Why is this important in the context of future proof? The reason is that as the speeds increase in data center hardware (this is a given with technology at this point) the lower the tolerance for dB loss becomes. So if you have a better performing cable assembly, it will last longer!
The next aspect is repeatability. A cable that performs well initially but is constructed poorly is likely to fail at some point in the future. It is as simple as that.
A fiber cable must be able to withstand multiple matings (plug in, unplug, plug in etc.) as well as pulling and re-routing during its lifespan. A cable can test great at the factory, but can easily fail after installation or multiple plug ins due to the use of low grade components and “cheap” construction. This aspect can be tougher to evaluate.
When purchasing fiber cable assemblies, ask for the specification documents on the QC process and demand the documentation.
Keep It Simple
There you have it. These are the two big factors to think about when considering future proofing. Let's make the vague and complicated something much more simple. Easy peasy.