Cisco Optics vs. Curvature Optics: What's the Difference? | Curvature

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Cisco Optics vs. Curvature Optics: What's the Difference?

Nothing – unless you’re talking about the price or the warranty. Did you know that Curvature labeled optics are identical to the ones you buy from Cisco and we guarantee the same capabilities? In fact, our quality assurance process ensures that Curvature labeled optics will function identically to a Cisco original part in all Cisco devices.

New Curvature labeled optics are now available for all common optics types in GBIC, SFP, XENPAK, and X2 form factors and we are so confident in the long-term performance of Curvature labeled optics that we offer a lifetime warranty on all types. Why pay more when you don’t have to?

Curvature offers new 100% Cisco-compatible optics to support Ethernet, Sonet/SDH and Fibre Channel applications for all Cisco switches and routers.

Compare Curvature Optics & Cisco Optics

Curvature Cisco
Lifetime Warranty X
100% Cisco Compatible
60-90% Off List Price X
Compatible with Brocade/Force10/Juniper X
Available for Immediate Shipping ?


The largest of companies who buy direct from Cisco, get 65+% off list, have Cisco engineers on staff etc., will still often carve this category off and buy through Curvature. With that said, it is never automatic or easy. Savvy clients ask tough questions, put Curvature optics through exhaustive test processes, and need to ensure leveraging a non-manufacturer product will not disrupt service levels or cause any angst with engineers whatsoever.

From those evaluations, below are common concerns regarding third-party optics and how we address those concerns.

What engineers say:

Non-manufacturer optics (from Cisco, Brocade, Juniper, F5, etc.) are garbage. They are unreliable and incompatible.


They’re right – for the vast majority of 3rd party optics you find online. If you put something like this out for RFP, it’s often a race to the bottom. There are shoddy companies out there selling the cheapest, lowest quality, non-tested optics and sadly taint the reality of what is possible. Curvature is the largest provider of non-manufacturer optics and we are not the cheapest. We have test labs to verify compatibility across nearly all manufacturers, all SKUs, all versions of IOS and that type of testing infrastructure is unmatched and not cheap. It has taken years to surgically pinpoint the most perfect inflection of high-quality manufacturing while ensuring 100% compatibility and reliability. This has been accomplished and we fully back all optics with a money back guarantee and lifetime warranty. We also have plenty of references available for feedback.

Engineers may say:

We don’t want to deal with configuring hardware to ignore IDPROM with non-Cisco optics.


You don’t have to. Curvature optics just work. You plug them in, you don’t see any “unsupported transceiver errors” and they are tested across a large range of products and versions of IOS.

Engineers may say:

This will void my SMARTnet contracts.


Per Cisco, they will not. If you open a TAC case and the problem can be traced to the optic, they don’t necessarily need to provide you with support for that particular problem. If the problem is NOT related to the optic then they continue providing support for the affected product. A common parallel would be using a FRAM oil filter in your car instead of an manufacturer filter from the dealership. Or 3rd party HDMI cables with your appletv, flatscreen, xbox, etc. The manufacturer cannot void maintenance contracts due to 3rd party components and this practice is protected by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

Engineers may say:

If Cisco TAC sees that I am using non-Cisco optics, they may make me swap it out before providing me with any kind of tech support.


This is a non-issue with Curvature optics due to the attention to proper coding that we provide to ensure there is no unsupported transceiver error, etc. Essentially, it looks like a Cisco optic based on the outputs mitigating this as a concern/issue. Also, if your engineers are worth their salt, they’ll know very quickly whether or not the problem they are experiencing is optic related. When clients have issues with optics (Cisco branded or otherwise), it’s a fairly obvious point of failure which is most easily verified by reseating the optic or simply swapping it out. Regardless, Curvature optics are of extremely high quality with an RMA rate less than .3% (we see a return of ~9 optics for every 3,000 sold and all are swapped out through our Lifetime Warranty).

Engineers may say:

We don’t want to deal with cutting a separate PO for something like an optic.


This is partly why manufacturers get away with 80%+ margins in this category. Clients who adopt the strategy of using Curvature optics will often take the extra time to simply cut a separate PO or purchase in large and keep inventory on hand to pull from as projects arise. It cuts down on the amount of paperwork associated with Purchase Orders while allowing you to tap into a much better cost structure.

Learn more about Curvature labeled Optics.
Click here to contact a Curvature technical professional.

Read our Cisco 10GbE Optics Cheat Sheet to learn all you need to know about XENPAKs, X2, XFP and SFP+.

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