What’s All This Standards and MSA Stuff?
Pluggable optical modules are a huge success factor in modern networking equipment. An end user can buy a network element, such as a router or switch, and provision ports in a pay-as-you-grow manner. They can plug optical modules into the ports and chose the reach (from a few meters with DAC copper through to 100’s of kms today with digital coherent optics) with a selection of different vendors who all offer compatible products.
This flexible approach in an open ecosystem where modules are multi-vendor commodities is a hugely successful model and is being continued with 400G and the very latest 400G digital coherent optics in QSFP-DD and CFP2. In fact, you might even consider it a tad ironic that 400G optical modules can work the same the world over, but every country seems to have chosen its own imaginative method for drawing power from a wall socket!
What underpins this plug and play ecosystem is a huge amount of work that has gone into creating all the robust standards, implementation agreements and multi-source agreements (MSA). For example, long before an alpha sample module rolls out of the R&D lab engineers working in collaboration have created a detailed set of ‘rules’ and guidelines. These can include everything from mechanical dimensions and thermal engineering to the parameters of the high-speed electrical data path and the photonic interface. Also critical is the module command management interface specification.
The ecosystem is extremely lucky to have many disciplined engineers working across many different areas of expertise coming together in organizations like the IEEE and OIF to create the specifications that underpin the industry. It is a testament to their focus and hard work that we have generation upon generation of interconnects that all work. It is this very work that enables engineers from Auckland to Iceland and all points between to read the documentation and create modules that work and inter-operate together.
At VIAVI, we are fortunate to be active within many of these organizations and we act as independent experts to bring our understandings and input into the standards. When you use VIAVI equipment you are not just getting excellent test and measurement equipment, you are getting the application experience of our teams who understand the very essence of a standard because they have taken part and contributed to the material.
The very latest digital coherent optics – CFP2 & QSFP-DD DCO – combine multiple standards and MSAs, all of which need to be carefully woven together to get a successful product. That’s why we at VIAVI have taken a lot of care with our latest ONT 800G DCO module to ensure you have a platform to help test and validate (and debug) against the standards and MSAs.