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Ask the Expert: Customers Save Time with Optic Cable Cleaning

Roberto Araujo

Customers Save Time with Optic Cable Cleaning

Connectrix Cable Cleaning Initiative - YouTube

Connectrix Optic Cable Cleaning Made Easy - YouTube

Connectrix SFP Optic Replacement Made Easy - YouTube

This discussion takes place Jan. 23rd - Feb. 6th. Once the event is live be sure to login to enable posting replies.


Welcome to the Dell EMC Support Community Ask the Expert conversation!

On this occasion we will be discussing how customers may save time and effort through the datacenter best practice of optic cable cleaning.  Both Dell EMC and our customers consume considerable time and effort to replace optics/SFPs in our switches, directors and storage arrays.  This expense in time, effort and product is frequently unnecessary.  The Optics initiative creates an opportunity to identify and to simplify these situations, avoiding Service Request creation and reducing remediation time through customer education and self-service.  Among the many areas we'll be discussing, our experts will answer your questions in regards to the simplicity and time savings offered by this process, industry best practices and findings and Dell EMC internal studies.


Let us know your experice so we can improve our service, please fill out this brief survey: Connectrix - Optic Cable Cleaning as Datacenter Best Practice Survey.




This discussion runs for two weeks. Get ready by bookmarking this page or signing up for e-mail notifications.

Meet Your Experts:


William Cross

Principle Global Service Product Manager

Bill has supported the Connectrix family of products for over 17 years. He has spent 12 years in the Corporate Quality organization driving quality and reliability into the Connectrix products and 6 years as the Connectrix Global Services Product Manager.


Scott Ramsay

Director Product Management

Scott has been with Dell EMC for 18+ years in Pre-sales, Services Delivery, Services Development and Customer Support roles, most currently as Service Product Lead (SPL) for Connectrix and VxRack solutions.

John Ford

Services Knowledge Management Lead

John has been with Dell EMC for over 10 years in both advanced development and Global Customer Service. My background is in Information Architecture, with an emphasis on usability. My current objective is to provide the greatest level of customer service, while reducing overall customer effort and the ease with which our customers can locate, and interact with our service tools and supporting knowledge.


John Colburn

Principal Field Support Specialist

I have supported the Connectrix product line for nearly 17 years, I have been working with Fibre Channel technology for over 20 yrs. I have been actively working with optical contamination and its effects on optical networks for around 5 yrs. In that time I have seen many major issues resolved by the removal of cable end face contamination.


Samuel Mercanti

Principal Program Manager - Connectrix Cisco MDS

Sam is a networking and content delivery technologist, innovator, and entrepreneur with an MBA in Business Information Systems. With a successful startup company history, Sam joined Dell EMC in 2006 as a L2 support engineer for the EMC Connectrix products, moving into the Connectrix serviceability engineer role in 2012. He currently manages the Global Services program for the Connectrix MDS-Series (Cisco) products.


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  • 1. Re: Ask the Expert: Customers Save Time with Optic Cable Cleaning
    Roberto Araujo

    Welcome to this Dell EMC Community Network Ask the Expert conversation. Our discussion is now open for interaction! When formulating your question please consider the following:

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    We’re delighted to know you’ve decided to join our debate and hope you receive the answers you’re eager to find.



  • 2. Re: Ask the Expert: Customers Save Time with Optic Cable Cleaning
    Roberto Araujo

    Hi experts, to kick off the discussion I would like you to address, from a customer's perspective, the importance of keeping optic cables clean. What are some of the benefits?

  • 3. Re: Ask the Expert: Customers Save Time with Optic Cable Cleaning

    Well for me it is a simple hard headed business issue namely, time and money.  In my years of working with issue caused by contamination the profile is very similar.  In that all other avenues are exhausted before it is considered, because customers find it hard to believe that their critical SAN issue can be cause by a spec of dirt.  What that means is time and effort has been expended eliminating all other possibilities. From a break&fix perspective it IMHO makes perfect sense to start any investigation by removing this possibility, it is a quick and simple troubleshooting task to perform. Where you get most bang for your buck is by ensuring contamination is not present, from the get go.  That is to say when a new path or connection is deployed, by spending just a few moments to ensure the connection you are making is clean.  That small investment in time and effort gives you piece of mind and can save a whole lot of pain down the line when the connection is fully part of the production environment. Switch operating code has improved over the years but I am sure we have all experienced the mayhem a flapping ISL can cause in a large fabric, I have seen that issue caused by cable end face contamination many times. So again back to time and money, do you invest small to potentially win big.  Or do you take the risk and hope all is well while being prepared to take the pain if you are wrong.  Remember brand new cables right out of the bag are normally not guaranteed to be clean, unless you paid for them to be so.

  • 4. Re: Ask the Expert: Customers Save Time with Optic Cable Cleaning

    I also feel it is a matter of choice.  In most cases, my preference is to solve something on my own.  I prefer this choice especially if I know I can save time, solve the initial problem, and move on to the next item in my list.  More importantly, our data suggests a high probability that cleaning the cable will restore connectivity.  In this case, the choice becomes intelligent for several reasons.  Resolving the error condition, and restoring connectivity sooner improves redundancy, and mitigates any potential downtime in your production environment.

  • 5. Re: Ask the Expert: Customers Save Time with Optic Cable Cleaning
    Scott Ramsay

    From my perspective, proactive cable cleaning prior to mating is simply good datacenter practice and common sense.  It is a simple and easy insurance policy allowing for:

    • reduced network downtime
    • reduced troubleshooting
    • optimized signal performance
    • prevention of network damage


    When you have the opportunity and choice, why not spend a minute to perform an easy task that can save more significant reactive time, effort and cost later?

  • 6. Re: Ask the Expert: Customers Save Time with Optic Cable Cleaning

    not every shop has expensive fluke scopes. Our team that is responsible for DWDM gear as well as single mode fiber connectivity on campus has those scopes. I work on the storage team and we can't really afford those scopes so we use fiber cleaning kits to clean our jumpers.

  • 7. Re: Ask the Expert: Customers Save Time with Optic Cable Cleaning

    Good point   you are correct fibre test gear can be very expensive a Fiber OTDR (Optical Time Domain Reflector) can cost thousands of $$.  Cable plant guys may use them to "certify" the patching infrastructure at install time.  We are of course not suggesting a full certification is required each time a cable is plugged into a network port.


    In fact I know some OTDR tests can be corrupted and provide false positive results because the calibration cable  of the OTDR is itself contaminated.   So the contamination can be calibrated in.


    You can get fibre end face inspection tools (microscope) for between $1k and $1.5K and they vary in the level of automation they provide.  But a cleaning kit with a robust cleaning cartridge  for dry cleaning and some wet cleaning supplies, as demonstrated in Bill's video, will come in around a hundred dollars.  Peanuts when you consider the costs of a single FC switch.  So I am sure a lot of shops will opt for your approach dynamox and purchase some cleaning supplies being proactive as you are is the important take away .

  • 8. Re: Ask the Expert: Customers Save Time with Optic Cable Cleaning
    Scott Ramsay

    Exactly!  This supports the industry position.  Fiber cleaning kits are a very cost-effective means to avert problems later.


    We will be posting a few examples of cleaning kits during this event.


    What types/models of cleaning kits do you use?  Any particular recommendations?  If  you get a chance, please take one minute to complete the survey listed above, Connectrix - Optic Cable Cleaning as Datacenter Best Practice.

  • 9. Re: Ask the Expert: Customers Save Time with Optic Cable Cleaning

    That's right.  The cleaning kits are very inexpensive and are small enough to keep right inside the cabinet with the equipment, thus being available whenever it is needed. As John mentioned we did find that the best cleaning process was a wet/dry process.  The straight dry cleaning really didn't perform well to our standards.  Adding in the initial wet cleaning process performed much better for us.


    As I had mentioned in the video's cable cleaning should be a standard process in all Data Centers before plugging any fibre cable into an optic or patch panel.

  • 10. Re: Ask the Expert: Customers Save Time with Optic Cable Cleaning

    this is what we use, so dry cleaning only. Multi-mode seems to be more forgiving than single mode, so far this has been sufficient for our patch installation needs. When we connect between our MDS switches and Cisco DWDM gear, we get "scope" guys to clean those for us. I watched them clean those SM cables and they use special pads etc but it's nice to have those scopes to get every single speckle cleaned out.




  • 11. Re: Ask the Expert: Customers Save Time with Optic Cable Cleaning

    Fibre zones.pngI do like the Cletop it is a quality tool.  The reason we recommend wet first is really belt and braces as you point out with inspection you can be sure to remove every spec.  When using just cleaning it is more difficult so my opting for wet then dry it just increases the odds you will get it all .  Single mode will for sure always be more impacted by dirt as you know the core os 9mirons as opposed to 125 for multimode.  The IEC standard (see above) specifies how much contamination in the concentric zones around the core is allowed. Zone A being the core has a smaller tolerance to dirt than the outer zones.

  • 12. Re: Ask the Expert: Customers Save Time with Optic Cable Cleaning



    Can you recommend some brands that can do both wet/dry in one "device" ?

  • 13. Re: Ask the Expert: Customers Save Time with Optic Cable Cleaning

    Sorry not that I have found so far.

  • 14. Re: Ask the Expert: Customers Save Time with Optic Cable Cleaning

    Thinking about it you could use the lint free squares, but I prefer the Cletop style dry cleaner as you are guaranteed a clean surface each time.

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