I'm pricing out a decent size 10gb network (6-8 ToR switchs) and the uplink costs are a major factor.

I figure each ToR switch needs 4x40gb uplinks and you have a cost for the uplink optics that is approximately the cost of the ToR switch itself, not to mention the server cabling. That is with 1st part optics (Juniper in my case).

Anybody have any practical experience with either:

  1. Cheaper 3rd party 40gb optics, or
  2. Using the copper ones?

I'm interested in experience with 3rd party optics.

How is the longevity and quality? How much pushback do you get from your switch vendors? Anything to look for or avoid?

We use copper sfp+ cables wherever practical to save costs, I presume the qsfp+ ones would be similar. Anything else I'd need to be aware of?

  • What kind of distances are you looking at for the cable runs back to the core/dist layer? May 8, 2013 at 21:09
  • It wouldn't be too far, in the typical short range optics (100m or less). For those that are really short I would probably do the copper cables. I haven't priced out the copper qsfp+ cables but sort of assume they are way cheaper than the optics. I know in the sfp+ side they are about 1/10th the cost. May 8, 2013 at 21:11
  • Another option to consider is using the vendor's stacking instead of uplinks. 6-8 switches is a lot for a stack which may top out at 2 or 4 members for some vendors. Some Junipers can stack 8 switches in a line or in a ring for added redundancy. Bonus is there's only one very big "switch" to configure, not 6-8 individual switches.
    – Criggie
    Apr 24, 2019 at 12:24

3 Answers 3


FluxLight also has a fairly wide selection of SFP, SFP+ and QSFP optical transceivers. We have used them for about 5 years now and have only encountered one bad module. We contacted FluxLight and they cross-shipped a new module for free. I highly recommend them. Their modules also identify properly in various vendor chassis, so HP and Cisco equipment should see the module without it complaining or shutting down the interface.

  • Thanks for the feedback, I'll be sure to check out FluxLight as well. May 21, 2013 at 16:54

If the distances are short enough I would look at the twinax receivers, at the end of the day this is what they were designed for.

I don't know if 40gbit and the larger 100gbit have been around long enough yet for their to be a 'grey' market of QSFP/CFP's.

Be careful with copper (non-twinax) though if you are running anything like FCoE over the links as the BER is usually too high for the lossless network required by FCoE.

  • 1
    I wasn't aware the copper cables would have a higher BER than fiber ones. Is there a study or documentation that shows that? May 8, 2013 at 21:18
  • Juniper transceivers are something like $3000 list. Figure $2000 actual and a quick search on the internet shows cheaper 3rd party ones, so the option is there, just a question if you want to trust all of your 10gb infrastructure to 2nd or 3rd tier brands May 8, 2013 at 21:20
  • 1
    I can't speak for Juniper but with Cisco the only major drawback to 3rd party optics is that they will ask you remove them before they will troubleshoot an issue. May 8, 2013 at 21:22
  • In terms of studies on the BER of copper (non twinax) I'll dig through my archives but if you google '10gbit copper ber fcoe' you get a fair few results. May 8, 2013 at 21:22
  • Thanks for the info. Almost all of the concerns I see related to that are for cat6 cables and not twinax (or DAC cables as I usually call them) so it doesn't seem to be a concern for me yet May 8, 2013 at 21:47

As long as you buy from the OEM's (probably via a reseller) you're getting the same optics the vendors ship, usually for a small fraction of the price. This lets you spare saving much of the hassle of a support contract & RMA's, which for 1g & 10g optics would probably cost you more in time than just buying a new module. This usually makes third party optics cheaper than first party copper cables.

Finisar & JDSU are the big names, but there are a bunch of others.

Vendors may claim that their optics are tested for compatability and third party optics may have problems. I've even seen these problems, but sadly for the vendor they rebadged the same optics and we demonstrated the problem with them as well.

To give you a pricing idea; Digikey, hardly the cheapest option out there have Finisar multimode QSFP modules for US$390 for quantity one (10g SFP+ at $114 and 1g SFP at $42)

  • Thank you for the specific brands and costs, that is massive savings for even 4-6 ToR 10 gig switches. May 21, 2013 at 16:54

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