In The Corporation
As the drivers of high-bandwidth commercialization become clearer, bleeding-edge technologies are slowly migrating to the corporation.
The process for infusing technologies developed through initiatives like Internet2 into products you'll actually be able to buy is anything but direct. It's dependent on the commercial savvy of the universities involved and the relentless focus of startups that can navigate the often-unwieldy process of taking technologies out of the lab.
Take, for example, Chicago-based InSORS Integrated Communications, which has built a commercial version of Argonne's video collaboration product and named it the InSORS Grid. Customers such as Ford and Motorola Inc. have established videoconferencing nodes by leveraging high-bandwidth connections that allow users to conduct real-time discussions comfortably. Brian Gleason, InSORS' director of business development, says his company consolidated Argonne's four servers into one, integrated cameras and displays, and added a gateway for companies that can't support IP multicastingthe ability to broadcast packets to multiple recipients. According to Gleason, traditional low-bandwidth videoconferencing gets only 4 percent to 8 percent use, but high-bandwidth "immersive" videoconferencing rapidly gets infused into the customer's way of communicating internally. "Once they get a real feel for doing this kind of stuff," says Gleason, "it's just a matter of time before it becomes a part of their regular culture."
Once the pathways for real-time video are in place, analysts say, other applications appear, including distance learning for teleworkers and broadcasts of CEO speecheswhat some call "ego-casts." Beyond videoconferencing, though, analysts say a couple of trends are pushing corporations toward advanced networking.
First, the post-Y2K trend of centralizing into downtown data centers is a thing of the past. Redundancy and relocation are the watchwords of today's technology architects. "Suddenly the idea of being all in one building doesn't seem like such a hot idea any more," says Giga Information Group networking analyst Jim Slaby. David Willis, vice president for global networking strategies at Meta Group, agrees. "Separating users from the sources of their data can have a pretty big payoff." That typically means leaving workers in the heart of a city, moving data centers to one or more nearby suburbs, and putting communications connections between sites running at 155 megabits per second and above.
Second, separating storage from servers in storage area networks is just a first step, analysts say. As TCP/IP and Ethernet come to rule the connectivity roost, users will increasingly move storage farther and farther from the users accessing it. And grid computing has the potential to create an even greater distance between computing resources and the applications that run themand increasing the bandwidth needed to keep everything connected. The aim: Greater business flexibility through rapidly readied computing resources and reduced cost of ownership.
Ask Your Vendors:
What would be required for us to support IP multicasting?
Ask Your Travel Department:
How much would we save if we cut down on in-person meetings by, say, a quarter?
Ask Your CEO:
How would you communicate differently with employees if you had these capabilities in place?