OEM Discovers $1 Million in Savings from a Tiny Cleaning Problem

Fiber optic SFP+ modules are the heart of cloud computing. These “Small Form Pluggable” modules convert fiber optic signals into the digital bits and bytes that electronics understand. With 30-40 modules per rack, these devices move huge amounts of data in a very compact footprint. The modules are scalable, invulnerable to cross-talk, generate less heat and operate at longer distances than comparable copper wiring. But the 1.25mm LC-style end faces (there are always two, one to receive and one to transmit) are prone to contamination. For most enterprise data centers, this is a big problem.

“Data centers are a mass of spaghetti-like fiber optic cables,” says Brian Teague, Sticklers™ product manager. “So, the tiny SFP+ configuration is a brilliant, compact, rugged and cost-effective design. But there’s no way you’re going to get speeds of 10 gig or faster unless every end-face in the loop is spotlessly clean. It only takes one dirty connection to bring a network to its knees.”

While a typical SFP+ module costs about $250 each module has a hard life. New applications come and go, rack units are upgraded; new servers are installed. Data center fiber optic connections are mated, de-mated and re-mated dozens or hundreds of times in their lives. “All this movement produces debris from wear-and-tear on the plastic connectors and exposes the end-face to dust,” reports Mr. Teague.

One large OEM north of New York City was troubled by the performance of their SFP+ modules. To ensure the performance of their proprietary network, they had a policy of replacing SFP+ modules instead of cleaning them. While it was expensive, they judged, this policy ensured their expensive and crucial applications operated at peak performance.

The OEM was correct; proper cleaning can be a challenge. Insufficient cleaning will leave contamination on the end-face, degrading the signal. Overly exuberant cleaning can scratch and pit the lens surface. Ideally, cleaning would be fast and super-convenient. The OEM tested foam cleaning sticks but found they performed poorly, depositing foam debris on the end-face and generating static which could attract dust or even damage the electronics in the module.

The Sticklers fiber optic products changed that calculus. Using the Sticklers CleanStixx™ tools in conjunction with the Sticklers connector cleaning fluid their data center staff were able to successfully clean and re-use the SFP+ modules. The CleanStixx tools performed well removing particulate even on the periphery of the end-face, outside of the “contact zone.”

Each CleanStixx tool costs about 75¢, so with a per-module cleaning cost of less than 1/200th the value of the module the OEM produced savings approaching $1 million annually.

New York Cleaning SFP+ Modules Saves Money
Fabricante de equipo original descubre ahorro de 1 millón de dólares por un pequeño problema de limpieza
un petit poblème de netoyage lui permet de réaliser des économies d’1 million de dollars
Sparpotential on einer Million Dollar bei kleinem Reinigungsproblem
OEM 从微小清洁问题中发现了可节约 100 万美元的办法