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A network revolution

Ross Milburn | April 27, 2011
Video and mobility are driving a network revolution, according to delegates at a roundtable discussion in Hong Kong in March, entitled ‘Empowering the 21st Century Network’.

CIOs’ struggles with the irresistible explosion of video data and broadband mobility dominated a CIO Asia roundtable discussion in Hong Kong on ‘Empowering the 21st Century Network’. There is no magic solution, but there may be an engineering one, according to Juniper Networks, sponsor of the event, whose top managers have engaged in a basic rethink and are now predicting that enterprise networking, as we know it, may be set to disappear in the next decade. “Juniper’s position is that the network is broken and the new network needs to be built,” said Raghu Subramaniam, vice president, engineering, Asia Pacific, Juniper Networks. “We need to disrupt the curve of the networking industry, because it’s unsustainable.”

The disruption that Subramanian has in mind is fuelled by the fact that today’s industrial successes are all based on platforms. “For example, the biggest financial innovation of the last century was the credit card – simple, but able to provide a global platform connecting merchants and customers. Similarly, the supermarket is a platform that connects thousands of vendors to millions of consumers. Windows is a platform for software, Nintendo and Sony Xbox for gaming.

“Even the iPhone is a platform for applications. Networking is the only industry that has no platform – it just sells routers, load balancers and firewalls. The industry is selling boxes to keep up with demand and, the way that costs are going, this strategy will self-implode in 10 years.”

“Demands on network bandwidth are estimated to be increasing at 30 per cent annually, much of it due to video traffic,” said moderator Ross O. Storey, managing editor of Fairfax Business Media Asia. “A key challenge for enterprises is the demand for mobile data services fuelled by smartphones, which will number one billion by 2016. Data traffic in world mobile networks is expected to increase by 30 times by 2015 and, some analysts say, by 500 times by 2020.”

Other CIOs were quick to agree on the bandwidth overload and identify video as the main culprit. “In January, our CEO presented our new corporate strategy and we wanted to promote it to our branches worldwide,” said Sven Jasper, director, IT, Otto International HK.

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“We made an HD video, but found that 200 concurrent connections to our video server would close our Internet gateway. So instead we hosted the video on two Amazon sites in the Asia Pacific and Europe. Our network can handle wiki pages and manuals, but not the many videos we want to make in future,”  said Jasper.

 

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