No, DWDM is not an Indie 1990s rock band—but you need to listen anyway

All joking aside, our industry is not immune to a ridiculous number of acronyms, and even more so technology with its acronyms that can perplex the best of us. So, when I see our industry promote technology such as DWDM, exclaiming how fantastic it can be for business, my first reaction is always, “Okay, but seriously, does anyone out there truly get what that really means for their business?.”

Let’s begin with a brief explanation of the technology, then let’s get to the more important topic at hand: what can DWDM do for you? Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM), for all its complex naming convention, is simply an optical multiplexing technology. Basically, it’s used to increase bandwidth over existing fiber networks. This is accomplished by amalgamating and transmitting multiple signals simultaneously at different wavelengths on the same fiber; thus creating multiple virtual fibers and multiplying the capacity of the physical medium.

With the technical description out of the way, now for the question, “What can this do for my business?.” After all, the moment that optical networking is mentioned in a conversation, the first reaction I usually get is: if you’re not an ISP or Telecom company, then what’s the point? The point is, and forever shall remain, cost.

With all its capability and cost efficiency, this product line is certainly not just for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Telecom. Historically, the reason this equipment was not used by smaller organizations is purely because of the dollar amount associated with it—a technology and price only afforded by the largest of the large. In fact, not only was it the expense of the equipment, but also the expertise to manage and maintain the equipment was just too expensive to justify.

However, now that so much of this equipment has been released into the secondary markets, the cost of acquisition, maintenance and management has dropped significantly. This has effectively leveled the playing field for smaller organizations and reduced reliance on ISPs. For instance, smaller companies needed to depend on ISPs for Wide Area Network (WAN) connections that would purposely limit the amount of data transfer between multiple locations. In part, this was due to the load it would put on the WAN connections.

Now companies can easily lease Dark Fiber for point-to-point networking and only rely on ISPs for direct internet connections, all while using their own equipment—DWDM gear—to handle all private networking needs. By doing so, companies can drastically reduce transmission costs and increase internal connectivity between office locations.

So, the moral to this story? We can all learn from 1990s indie rock bands and embrace the DIY mantra. After all, if you can do it yourself better and cheaper, then who needs to pay someone else? Now, has anyone seen my Nirvana CDs?

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