Finisar Optics Review -- Are They Safe To Use In Production?

A fiber optic connection depends on the speed of the switch/router, the speed that light can travel through the cable, and also on the optic on each end of the cable. A dysfunctional optic can cause errors on a port, or worse, bring down the whole connections. I have run into plenty of times when I was trying to turn up a connection, but was unable to see link and the source of the problem was a bad optic. Choosing a good optic for your fiber network is important for the stability of the network and to ensure that a circuit's initial turn up goes smoothly.

Finisar is the largest producer of generic style optics. They offer an alternative to purchasing name brand optics produced by companies such as Cisco, Juniper, HP or Brocade. Finisar and other generic optic manufacturer's produce optics that cost a fraction of the price that the equivalent name brand optic would cost. If you are looking to save money, you should definitely consider using Finisar optics.

In my experience, Finisar optics have performed just as well as the name brand optics I have used. Though they cost a fraction of the amount of the name brand optics, I have not noticed them to have any more problems than the more expensive name brand optics.

Though I have not noticed a different in quality between Finisar optics and other brand optics, I may have gotten lucky. But even if Finisar optics are slightly more prone to have problems, it is still likely worth it to use them. Some of their optics cost as little as $20. For this price you should be able to purchase a bunch of Finisar optics and have plenty to spare in case a couple are bad. So even if Finisar optics have a 10% higher chance of being bad, because you can get them at a fraction of the price of other brand optics, you are still saving money by switching to Finisar.

I have no proof of this myself, but have heard that some name brand optics providers simply rebadge Finisar optics. This means they take a Finisar optic, brand it with their own company's name and resell it for a much higher price. If this is in fact the case, then the Finisar optics are going to be 100% the same quality as brand name optics.

At the same time, you should be aware that Finisar optics might not be supported by your switch/router/firewall manufacturer. If you attempt to call Cisco support and they find out that you are not using Cisco brand optics, this may cause them to simply blame the optic and end the support call. If this is a concern, I recommend having a few Cisco (or whatever brand) optics around that you can switch out into the port that you are troubleshooting. That way Cisco (or whoever) support will not be able to simple blame the issue that you are having on the generic optic. Keep a few brand name optics around for testing, and then use cheaper generic optics for most of your production.

Finisar optics also do not allow you to RMA them. They are cheap enough that you probably don't need to worry about having to RMA the optics, but that is worth considering when deciding if you should switch to a generic optics provider. Finisar does not do maintenance contracts.

So even if your name brand optics are just rebadged Finisar optics, you are able to purchase support and maintenance for the optics from a brand name optics provider. It is up to you and your company to decide if this is worth it. For me, I found that I saved a lot of money by using generic optics while keeping a few name brand optics on hand for testing purposes.

Using cheaper optics allows you to move to a SingleMode fiber network. If you are willing to use cheaper Finisar (or other generic name) optics, then you have no excuse for running MultiMode fiber. The main reason anyone still runs MultiMode fiber (MMF) is that the MMF optics are so much cheaper than SingeMode fiber (SMF) optics. The cables themselves cost about the same, SMF might even be a bit cheaper. It's that the name brand optics have a large price difference. However, that difference in price between MMF and SMF optics is largely artificial and created by the optic vendors. If you purchase Finisar or other generic brand optics, then you will find that SMF and MMF optics have an insignificant price difference.