Monday, June 29, 2009

Ethernet Over Copper .... Background Information

Unless specifically brought into a conversation about a network solution ..... ethernet over copper (EOC) usually isn't discussed openly. Why I don't know. Industry standards suggest use of copper for Switch to station and fiber for backbones. In addition EOC would be sought for POE applications in support of Wireless nodes and VOIP connections using the TIA-568B standard. Fiber would be a better solution for long hauls and where there is need to plan for EMI though Cat 6S has served me well in all my industrial installations.

For future flexibility Ethernet over Fiber is advised. If you are aware of this and want to save money in the short run Ethernet over Copper might be a good alternative.

For more insights, you may check some resources such as:

* Ethernet over copper for broadband .....

Network World

It's not for networking architecture but for storage architecture. They have good points for Ethernet 10Gbits/s.

* Ethernet over copper cabling promises to lower costs for high-bandwidth storage ....

Computer World

Computerworld - Just when it looks like Fibre Channel is the clear choice for high-bandwidth networked storage, trusty old Ethernet gets a performance boost that makes iSCSI a viable competitor when it comes to sheer data-transfer speed.

The latest IEEE specification for 10 Gigabit Ethernet (802.3an, if you're keeping track), also known as the 10Gbase-T standard for unshielded twisted-pair Category 6 copper cabling, is expected to be ratified this summer.

The above gives you some basics to include in any discussion of a network solution ... in case Ethernet Over Copper (EOC) makes sense as part of the possibilities.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

What's The Point Of A Blackberry??

So what is the Blackberry attraction that causes so many to pay extra for that device over a pda/smartphone?

Here's just a few tidbits to wet your whistle ... and get you thinking.

* Camera Flash - I've yet to see a Palm OS device with it, and only some Windows Mobile devices have it. Every Blackberry that has a camera, has a flash. The camera feature is almost useless without a flash, from what I can tell.

* Software - Probably not as wide a selection as Windows Mobile, but probably better than Palm OS. I remember that I did like Palm OS, but it's basically dead. Only one manufacturer makes devices with the Palm OS, and even they make Windows Mobile phones as well.

I can see people making more Blackberry programs, but not for Palm OS.

* 3G - Most Blackberries don't support it, but this is quickly changing.

* GPS/Wi-Fi - With Blackberry, you have had to choose one or the other, if you want it built-in. But again, this is changing. Some of their devices have both. I've never heard of a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth dongle, but there's Bluetooth GPS. So if you want both, get Wi-Fi built-in, and get the Bluetooth GPS device.

* The Blackberry keyboard - If it doesn't have a QWERTY keyboard, then you have the option of Suretype (different input method). Since getting my Blackberry, I decided that I hate Suretype so I turned it off. It's still easier than typing words using a normal mobile phone. Instead of pressing the "2" button three times to get the letter "c," you press the "7" button once. Also, there is a shift key, and you only have to press two buttons to get punctuation characters.

* Touchscreen - Most Blackberries don't have it but some do.

* I don't know what plan the OP has, but for $70 plus taxes (at Sprint) there is a plan that has 450 minutes and lets you have unlimited data and messaging features. For that price, I doubt that it'd cost more each month.

* I did notice there is a $20/mo. option to access a BES server, but that's pointless unless you have a BES server to connect to.

If you can think of more reasons to like the Blackberry (or even some to dislike it) .... feel free to leave a comment.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shopping For A Video Conferencing System ..... Where To Start

A big question that you need to answer is what kind of a system are you looking for. Top quality systems include PolyCom and Tandberg, systems with dedicated conference rooms and protocols that communicate with other systems that are similar. If you are trying to connect a few offices, having a system like this is each office will give you the best quality level.

These systems usually require a large initial investment, and then an IT dept, or person at least for ongoing maintenance and upgrades. Also, you need to make sure that your location has a room for this, and the infrastructure is there to support it.

Another option is a hosted solution. There is very little initial investment here, but usually a monthly subscription cost to the service. The market leaders in this area are WebEx, Microsoft, Adobe, and GoToMeeting. Don't rule out other smaller options that can be easier to use, and more cost effective though. Usually you get better training and support from the smaller companies as well. Another provider with a great reputation that I always recommend is AccuConference. They are very cost effective, have feature rich packages, and outstanding customer support.

You can learn more about them here: AccuConference

A good impartial list of things to look for in a hosted provider was made on OfficeArrow by Libby Huffman. This is a great resource for video and webconference information because it touches on key points people often overlook.

Tips For Choosing A Conferencing Service Provider

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Cost Of T1 Bandwidth vs DSL .... Why The Difference?

There are a few very basic facts about T1 bandwidth and DSL that you must consider to understand why there is a price difference between the two for your business.

First, a T1 connection usually has a very stringent SLA (Service Level Agreement), one that cable and DSL does not. This means that your business has a guarantee of a specific "uptime" performance with T1 bandwidth. With DSL .... you won't get that guarantee. If something goes wrong with DSL you just have to put up with it and wait. Maybe for days. With a T1 line if something goes wrong it gets priority action with fast resolution .... usually within 4 hours.

Now ask yourself this .... which of the above is the best situation for your business? Can you afford to have all of your voice and/or data communications go down for an undetermined time? Or do you need a resolution fast so you don't lose business? Your answers will help explain part of the impact on cost differences for those situations .... the question than becomes which one can22you live with. With either you "get what you pay for".

Also, DSL and cable are shared services. Bandwidth is shared in the neighborhoods, and is often oversold. Thus many customers are paying for a limited resource, and the low retail price is the result. Even the facility into your location is shared: cable shares the TV connection, and DSL rides on an analog voice grade line. This means speed and performance will likely be affected.

On the other hand T1 is a dedicated service. It's yours and no one elses. Speed and performance are consistent. The T1 circuit is engineered as a digital circuit. Special repeaters might be required if you're far from the central office, and you don't share your bandwidth with other subscribers. Regardless you will have a reliable backbone for your network.

Relative to pricing trends, there really are two markets for T1 services: inside or outside of certain carriers' footprints. If you're within those service areas, then you can get obscenely inexpensive internet T1s, sometimes less than $300/month. If you're outside their service areas, then you'll be paying around $4-500/month. Particularly in rural areas.

So the bottom line is don't simply shop on price alone. Determine what type of network performance you must have and pay accordingly. Paying less for something that doesn't work the way you need it to will cost you MUCH more in the long run. But if you can live with that ... go for it. However, it is much more cost effective to pay a reasonable negotiated price for something that does everything you need. It also makes better business sense.

If you need help in finding the best T1 bandwidth based solution for your business voice/data network .... I strongly recommend the free support available here:

T1 Bandwidth


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Friday, June 19, 2009

What's The Future Of Cutting Edge Mobile Technology

By the end of this decade almost anyone who has a mobile phone or any other wireless hand-held device will have more computing power in their hands than was available hardly two decades ago on a high-end desktop PC.

This is without any consideration to the bandwidth backbones required to power the grids supporting wireless communication (e.g. DS3 Bandwidth and greater such as OC3 bandwidth or more ... likely ethernet too).

So, this being the case, where do you see the game changing application of such enormous computing power? I am not talking about programing your DVRs or watching a rerun of a show on your hand-held .......

Mobile technology will continue to surprise (delight?) us with all its ever increasing computation, bandwidth, form-factor, input/output options, content, and applications being spawned by the 1000s every day (thanks to application stores such as the iTunes appstore).

But the question is about "disruptive" and "game changing". The real power, the disruption, and the game-changing will emerge when the bulk of society embraces the facilities on offer. That is the bottleneck. Getting too excited about technology specs is probably naive. Back in the Apollo days we reached the moon with just half the computing power of about one Intel Intel 80386 PC. But since then growth in productivity/GDP etc. has not followed Moores law (although computer processing power has). We've had MMS phones for many years now, but how come SMS still rules in messaging?

The game changing devices, technologies, and applications are already here (or can be built within a few months). But does the average John Doe want to play the game?

Any discussion on Applications of the mobile devices, will always open the flood gates for discussion on the infinite number of applications that could be made. But if we are looking for what we call the killer apps that would make a big difference to our life styles, then I would bet my two cents on these over the next decade......

* Health and Science ..... real-place, real-time, meta-tagged health information will build a national database for health & disease tracking. Mobile computing power in human health sciences is essential for cutting administrative costs within the system. (Part of the Obama stimulus fund to digitize the health field will help supply health science data.)

* Social Experience / Interaction ..... Increase capacity for broadband wireless networks (4G, LTE etc.) will help to equip business & home with video telephony for virtual, life-like interaction, means less travel for employees of global companies, as well as providing new opportunities for those who are not yet global. Foreign trade will spring up in a new generation. Must bring down the in-home networking complexity and costs. Verizon's "the Hub" is a baby step toward this.

* Mobile, global money ..... I don't know enough about global finance systems to answer with any certainty, but I suspect mobile transactions will provide a huge and stealthy disturbance to our ways of working/buying now. Currency and exchange will change mediums from the days of cash/credit to "no contact" financial exchange.

I only state these particular examples because there is demand developing with a new generation who will come of age after a down turned economy has recovered; the technology is already present; other countries are already implementing them.

So .... it could happen. ;)

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Is The Mobile Phone Becoming The Central "Interactive Hub" Of Daily Life???

You can't escape it .... it's everywhere. The mobile phone, cell phone, PDA, Smart Phone, etc., etc. etc (pick your poison) .... seems to be one in just about veryone's hands. Driving, in the restaurant, on the airplane, in the boardroom, at the kitchen table, at the ball park ..... everywhere!

The reality is that the mobile phone is already part of our lives!

We "can´t" live one day without it! Everyone is so use to the mobile way of life, always connected, always reachable, .... that it can be taken as an unadjusted behavior not to have the mobile phone at hand. Yes, I think mobile devices will be interacting (even more) with lots of other devices that we use at home, in the car, at the office, … everywhere! I think mobile devices will even interact with us ...... like monitoring our vital signs, warning us about health risks.. and so on.

But .... notice I said mobile devices. Not mobile phone. BIG difference.

Simply, a mobile phone is too small to interact with consistently and reliably. Screens are too small, buttons are not convenient, storage and communications (such as memory cards and bluetooth/wifi) are limited on many devices. Current UI designs on mobile devices don't lend themselves to extensive functionality, quick commands, or lots of typing.

As devices more like iPhones continue to develop, I think we'll get closer to a place where the mobile device can dominate. There is still a very specific need for something bigger, more robust, like a laptop/desktop computer - the mobile device isn't even close yet to the power and usability.
Mobile voice-activated multi-media appliances will be the main devices of the future.

Everything will have embedded chips and will be connected to everything else.

We will live in a real-time anyplace anytime world, where everyone is interconnected and will live most of their lives through this global interconnected multimedium.

While it will not be the center of our lives, our lives will center around it, and it will be the glue which holds society together as well as the medium through which cross-cultural understanding will be bridged.

These devices, as I said, will be voice-activated and will also be multi-lingual in that they will automatically and simultaneously translate voice communication as well as text documents.

Again, I DO NOT believe our lives will center around mobile phones. Rather mobile phones are, and will become even a more important, part of our lives. If we are looking at industry trends over the last decades then we can see that we are coming from isolated, stove piped technologies and applications .... and are in the midst of a transformation to connected systems with a continuum of devices to access the applications we use to be most efficient at any location.

This is clearly the way we are heading, being able to access information at anytime from anywhere with a very similar if not same user experience regardless of the device.

However, the question implies and uses the term mobile phone. That in itself may soon not be accurate anymore. Today's devices are way beyond mobile or cell phones, they are mobile devices, which provide us with the means to access information and are becoming less phone every day.

The ability to make a phone call becomes just another feature, and being able to email, surf the web, Twitter, or navigate using the built-in GPS chip are features that are already more important for many people than the pure calling feature.

Which answers the question .... Mobile phones may not become the center of our lives, but devices that allow phone calls as well as accessing information already are and will become even more important.

For example .... Many people have already dumped their landlines at home since phone calls can be made already through data connections or the mobile phone, why pay twice for the same service? Look at TV, this will cease to exist in most households in 10-20 years as we know it now, since people may want to be able to watch it where they want and not where the cable company has put the wires. "My" mobile device (not necessarily a phone, but a device with phone capabilities!) will do that instead.

So, what that means ..... We may not only have to get used to new services and ways to use these but also to new devices to access them and new terms. A Desktop Computer is something people will not know what it was in 20 years from now, and the same may happen to "Mobile phones".

The mobile devices will be able to do so much more. You won't call them "Mobile phones" any longer, since this would demean them.

But they will become (and have already) your life line to the world ... and your doctor (healthcare!!) .... the world around you .... and yes, likely to your family as well (not sure if that is good or bad .... though and only time will tell).

To peak at what is out there "now" ... and see what could be hints at what's to come .... look through examples that are shared here (includes some deals you should take advantage of):

* Mobile Phones

* Cell Phones

* Mobile Devices


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Monday, June 15, 2009

What Does The Future Hold For Business VoIP??

What the future holds for VoIP is anybody's guess right now. The telecommunication landscape is a fast changing and evolving landscape. Sort of a "here today .... gone tomorrow" environment. So although VoIP may be here to stay ... how it "looks", is employed, and the impact it has may be quite different. Than again .... maybe not.

First ... before making any projections there needs to be some clear boundries on just what VoIP really is. Plus generally define where it's been and where it's at now.
VoIP is a technology, not a product in it's own right.

VoIP has a killer app: voice telephony

Voice telephony isn't new and, for most real-world applications, using VoIP instead of TDM, GSM, or analogue technologies doesn't add any significant benefits to the user. All of the significant benefits provided by VoIP technology are benefits to the infrastructure and these are mostly transparent to the end user.

This is where we are today with VoIP.

VoIP can offer many real end-user benefits in terms of new features but, for whatever reason, these are not in widespread use yet. Perhaps they will never be because people simply do not need or want them.

If I were to make a guess I would say the evolution of VoIP technology and services over the next 5-10 years will be similar to the last 10 years of VoIP: mostly incremental technology changes with few, if any, end-user feature benefits.

However .....

I think VoIP has made tremendous strides in the last 3 years to being something that most businesses will need to be competitive. The reason(s) .....

1) Quallity of Service (QOS) has improved tremendously,

2) Feature Sets available with VoIP

3) Cost

Features available with VoIP generally improve the ability to collaborate on tasks more simply and cheaper, the ability to have virtual offices and connect easily and simply with remote workers is huge. Other features like: presence, find me follow me, unified communication make this something that businesses WANT.

Features such as these I think are almost to the point of being disruptive and businesses not having these tools at their disposal can suffer by not having them.

Furthermore the convergence between IT & Telephony is really becoming a reality which only validates the usage of VoIP in the workplace. Additionally, this will spur developers to improve/add even more features to the plaftform particularly in the CRM area.

To me the only obstacles that still can be a little sticky once in awhile are:

1) 911 call location

2) Power Backup in the event of power blackout or brown-out

The above is not meant to be all inclusive. It's simply an overview of the present and a best guess look into a possible future. What really happens in the days to come .... who knows. Just sit back and wait and see.

For no cost assistance to evaluate and design a business VoIP solution for your current needs .... I recommend using the free resources available at Business VoIP


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Friday, June 12, 2009

Optimizing Cellular Bandwidth .... What's The Plan??

Here's what it's going to be:

The (FCC) revised the 700 MHz band plan and service rules to promote the creation of a nationwide interoperable broadband network for public safety and to facilitate the availability of new and innovative wireless broadband services for consumers.

The 700 MHz Band spectrum, which runs from 698-806 MHz, currently is occupied by television broadcasters and will be made available for other wireless services, including public safety and commercial services, as a result of the digital television (DTV) transition. The Digital Television and Public Safety Act of 2005 (DTV Act) set a firm deadline of February 17, 2009 (since passed of course .... and now postponed), for the completion of the DTV transition. The DTV Act also required the FCC to commence an auction of the previously unauctioned commercial spectrum in the 700 MHz Band on January 28, 2008.

In implementing Congress' directive to reallocate the airwaves, the Commission is focused on serving the public interest and the American people. The service rules the Commission adopts help create a national broadband network for public safety that will address the interoperability problems of today's system, provide for a more open wireless platform that will facilitate innovation and investment, and facilitate the emergence of next generation wireless broadband services in both urban and rural areas.

The Order establishes a framework for a 700 MHz Public Safety/Private Partnership between the licensee for one of the commercial spectrum blocks and the licensee for the public safety broadband spectrum. As part of the Partnership, the commercial licensee will build out a nationwide, interoperable broadband network for the use
of public safety.

This network will facilitate effective communications among first responders not just in emergencies, but as part of cooperative communications plans that will enable first responders from different disciplines, such as police and fire departments, and jurisdictions to work together in emergency preparedness and response.

Under the Partnership, the Public Safety Broadband Licensee will have priority access to the commercial spectrum in times of emergency, and the commercial licensee will have preemptible, secondary access to the public safety broadband spectrum. Many national and local public safety organizations have expressed support for a public safety/private partnership approach. Providing for shared infrastructure will help achieve significant cost efficiencies while maximizing public safety's access to interoperable broadband spectrum.

In order to promote broadband competition and the development of innovative wireless services for consumers, the Order also makes several changes to the rules governing the commercial services portion
of the 700 MHz Band. Most notably, the FCC determined that licensees for one of the spectrum blocks to be auctioned - the large, 22-megahertz Upper 700 MHz C Block - will be required to provide a platform that is more open to devices and applications.

These licensees will be required to allow customers, device manufacturers, third-party application developers, and others to use any device or application of their choice on their networks in this band, subject to certain conditions. The FCC also adopted several changes to the 700 MHz band plan, the build-out requirements for licensees, and the auction procedures, as described below.

700 MHz Band Plan .......

* Under the new band plan, 62 megahertz of spectrum, divided into five spectrum blocks, will be auctioned for
commercial uses.

* The commercial spectrum will be made available at auction in a mix of geographic area sizes, including
Cellular Market Areas (CMAs), Economic Areas (EAs), and Regional Economic Area Groupings (REAGs).

* The 10-megahertz Upper D Block will be licensed on a nationwide basis and will become part of a 700 MHz Public

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Is Android A Threat To iPhone?

With Google's recent Android software update and Samsung and Motorola near releasing new Android handsets, should Apple be concerned?

No company can be complacent and expect their software to rule the market without any competition, there is always going to be some software company trying to take the leadership position.

Similarly Android is a threat to not only iPhone but for other mobile software's also, as it being an open source developer driver software, there are more and more features and functions being developed for it with each passing day. In fact just going through the list of applications made for android is enough to make people realize that Android has the potential to overthrow the leader in few years if not earlier.

That being said, the other companies are definitely not keeping quiet and are working towards making their product more desirable by reducing the cost for getting it (AT&T is reducing the cost of iPhone for its users) and increasing the feature list of their software

So it all depends on what Apple does to ensure that iPhone remains the top choice for users else it is just a matter of time before some other software becomes the top choice.

As far as I understand, Android has been developer focused. On the other hand iPhone has been user focused. This is evident from the fan following for the two platforms. Android has more developer fans than its users. iPhone has a huge 'user' following which is why developers are also following it.

As of today, when it comes to number of handsets in use based on a given platform, iPhone leads the way.

Android will be a threat only if it gets on to the bulk of the handsets in use. This is possible only when multiple manufacturers decide to roll out only Android handsets. We haven't seen any one announce such plans. Till that happens, there is little reason for Apple to worry. For Android, what manufacturers have committed is that they will support Android which in my opinion is little better than lip service.

Primarily, I see Android becoming a serious threat to Microsoft Windows Mobile. In particular, HTC has been using Windows Mobile in a variety of their products. Likewise, HTC has architected their own software, primarily their Touch Flo 3D, to sit on top of the Windows OS. Which seemingly devalues the whole user experience. The Touch Flo 3D software and Windows Mobile OS do not provide a cohesive user experience. I should mention that the Touch Flo 3D look-and-feel is particularly wonderful and offers a comparative experience when compared to Apple.

More recently, HTC has begun utilizing the Android OS. Perhaps to deliver that holistic user experience that’s currently missing on their existing product range. I would predict that HTC will be making this move even more to the Android platform, as the MS equivalent is a pale imitation.

As for Motorola and Samsung, well they are six of one and half a dozen of the other. It’s Nokia who is currently hell-bent on mobile world domination with their flavour of SymbianOS – another well-established operating system that fairs much better when comparing mobile operating systems.

Personally, I feel Apple will continue to dominate, as it’s a company that will never choose to become complacent, as we have witnessed over the last 20 years.

There's an adage that competition instills creativity and makes each competitor better. Competition is what drives us forward.

However, what people forget is that everyone has different reasons for why they purchase a mobile device. With all the talk about the iPhone, it's easy to forget that the #1 mobile phone manufacturer on the planet -- Nokia -- still controls more than 40% of the market worldwide. Neither Apple nor Samsung come remotely close, and Motorola is still struggling.

Apple has pursued a niche marketing strategy of doing their own thing, tightly controlling it, and doing it well. Google will have its own strategy. Nokia will no doubt have a response to this as well. I suggest that all the discussion is the wind in the sails that keeps each of this ships moving along a technology path. I stop short of suggesting that any one thing is a threat, because within any threat or adversity comes "opportunity".

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Monday, June 08, 2009

Should You Use A Netbook??

A netbook is a wonderful device for what it is.

The first question I would ask is, "What do you plan to do with it?" If it is to be used for the purposes that fit its design -- browsing and remote applications -- it should be fine. If, however, you anticipate actually running, say, MS Office or any other productivity-type application, you will be disappointed with the performance.

A related problem .... many security folks are concerned that, when faced with that disappointing performance, users will begin to shut off background applications. Translation .... they will shut off their firewall, antivirus and anti-spyware apps in order to increase performance.

The result will be a new wide-open vector into company data. If you think that your planned activity will involve running applications locally at all, I would suggest you consider a lightweight laptop, maybe a Vaio or a MacBook Air. If the applications are all "cloud"-based or remotely accessed, you should be fine.

Always remember that a netbook is different than a notebook or laptop. It's built for web browsing, emailing, and word processing. You can also remote in to the office and use applications remotely. They are small, lightweight, and have a low processing power. They generally cost much less than a normal laptop as well at $50 - $350. They come with a small screen, small keyboard, and a wireless connection. Also, be careful, as some of them have ubuntu or linux pre-installed and not Microsoft Windows.

Now the above is just the basics. Before making any decision for yourself ... shop around. Why? All netbooks are not made equal.

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Friday, June 05, 2009

What Bandwidth Solution (T1, DS3, OC3) Would You Migrate Toward For A Supply Chain Network .... And Why?

All these access methods are last-mile alternatives with max Bandwidth limitations .... for example: T1=1.5Mpbs, DS3=45pbs, etc.

What you need is a scalable (easily increase Bandwidth for growth), secured (at least as good as layer2 OS equivalent), and flexible (connect various entities that will be part of the SCM). IMHO, I would rather explore what WAN technology would be a better fit, ex MPLS or VPLS than access methods. I truly like the latter because of inherent flexibility, protocol independence, coverage, scalability, security, and yes, flexibility. Some providers may also offer you a Secured Internet gateway option thru the xPLS backbone for ubiquitous connectivity .... and “bring you own internet” connectivity options for smaller B2B links.

First and foremost you must decide the following about the WAN architecture of any supply chain organization .....

* How many locations you would like to connect

* Architecture .... hub and spoke or mesh architecture

* What applications would be run on this network

* Voice, Video, Data .....

- Precisely which applications will be run in case of Data.
- what will be the % each QoS will take, the total of all three should be 100%.
- Voice is the premium level QoS and hence the most expensive as it is a real time communication, followed by video and then data.

* How many users precisely will be using the network at a given point of time at each location.

* What will be the concurrency factor. If you are looking for 100% concurrency or you can manage with lesser concurrency.

* What is the scope of scalability at each location and hub location.

* Will the access to internet also be given to users.

* Internet at central location can help you in implementing and enforcing various security policies of your organisation.

* Do you want to give access to the network resources to a mobile user?

Firstly I would probably consider getting a carrier VPN service for the backbone as this removes many of the capacity planning and management issues. You can then concentrate on the bandwidth required to each of the premises and this can vary depending on the circumstances.

For dimensioning the tail circuits, you need to consider the rate of transactions and the typical size per transaction. From this you should be able to work out bandwidth. If you assume largest transaction size and peak number of transactions then this will give you the peak bandwidth. Add at least 20% to this to be safe (TCP overhead will consume some of this). Also consider the service response required. It may be possible to "smooth" some of the peaks by allowing some transactions to be slightly delayed.

Of course you should, ideally, be working this out for each site over a 2 year period and planning for any growth. Find out from your service provider how quickly upgrades can be made and how much they are... it may be better to put in a bigger pipe on day 1. Where it isn't, keep track of the growth rate and factor in the service provider's upgrade time as well as internal delay caused by business case and budget approvals, PO signoffs, etc. and make sure you order in plenty of time.

The answer to all these questions will help in arriving at the MPLS bandwidth required at each hub and spoke location.

Honestly speaking no organization should ideally try to do this calculation themselves. Instead they can hire a consultant or a telecom service provider to do this activity ..... as they are experts in designing this solution, they can easily decide upon the bandwidth for each location, select suitable router, make redundancy plans, routing the traffic on atlantic or pacific routes, blah blah.

You don't buy telecommunication for the future, its too flexible - you structure your contracts for the future, you configure your network to expand, you buy the services you need.

For help in going through this analysis ... at no cost to ..... I recommend the service available here: MPLS Network Solution

Ideally I also recommend togive the freedom of providing and managing the routers at each location to the Telecom service provider. Then it becomes a managed solution and the service provider can easily monitor your network in event of an outage. They can remotely login into the routers and manage the complete network giving you higher uptimes and SLAs (Service Level Agreements).

The above discussion takes a network centric approach. I also suggest taking an application level approach to determine .....

1) application bandwidth requirements,

2) number of locations,

3) extranet/partners requirements,

4) security requirements,

5) closed network or internet based vpns.

Bandwidth doesn't solve all problems. You need a functional strategy to determine your currently capabilities, identify gaps with the solution today, identify gaps and then decide what it would take to address current and future capabilities, .... and bridge those gaps.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

What Will Your Portable "Laptop" Computer Look Like In The Future?

Break out your crystal ball .... and take a peak at what the future may hold for your beloved laptop computer. For you Wizard of Oz fans .... "we're not in Kansas anymore Toto."

Though rather tongue in cheek, did we really say "Laptop", as in one of those boat anchors that people are shlepping around to do more net based applications (or SaaS applications)?

Don't we really mean something more along the lines of the HTC Touch Pro2 running WinMo12.x .... which allows for transparent interchange of assets (files, images, documenst, etc) between mobile device[s] and the cloud? Well we should. Just using the term "laptop" is passe. We've advanced well beyond the horse and buggy days. And if the future holds true ... are poised to go even farther. At least we hope so.

Besides, "devices" are so 1999. Clouds are where we are flying now.

Now .... what will your "traveltop" look like in the future?

Hmmm ..... how about this:

* The size/screen factor. There'll be enough that it doesn't bother you. It will be compact yes .... but not so much that you'll need to get your eyes examined.

* Bundled software .... there'll be none. You'll "live in the cloud". Your connectivity will be your bundle. Access to whatever your heart desires will be through your cloud connectivity. Switch on .... connect ... and voila. Everything you want is at your finger tips. No fuss .... no muss.

* There'll be no specific applications and the "machine" will just work flawlessly. It'll be so pure, so non-pesky, it'll rock, it will be solid, it will be sparse, it will be free of assumptions, it will simply offer a gateway to the web. What more do you need?

* It will not be Windows. It may be Mac. It will probably be Linux.

* It will be kinetic in power. It'll charge off of you.

* It will be slim, gestural, but smart enough to give you a keyboard.

* It will come in a rainbow of colors. It will be flexible, and run for days on a charge.

* It will have a crap load of competition ..... such as something akin to a Kindle ZLT, or the new iTablet.

* It will be affordable (oh yeah!), big in Korea, and hot movie stars will carry it around. he cool factor will be obvious.

And finally ..... it will be no nonsense, already dated, but coming out with something new the next year. So I guess not much will change in that regard.

Sound a bit far fetched?

Maybe this is a bit of a humerous prediction. However, there is some realistic truth to the vision.

It could happen.

With the way "travel tops" morph so fast in this high tech world .... and as the tech savvy and tech hungry public clamors for "more ... and better .... and newer .... and cooler" .... who really knows what the future will really hold.

But .... it sure is fun day dreaming about it.

Now what do YOU think????

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Monday, June 01, 2009

eWaste - How Are CIO's Protecting The Environment?

Going green .... or protecting the environment .... has become even more of focus in companies today then ever before. In the US this is partly due to the new Obama Administration emphasis on the subject. But also because it's just plain the smart and responsible way to do business. One major segment of the overall effort is reducing and/or controlling E-waste.

E-waste is only part of the picture, though, of how CIO's can reduce harm to the environment.

For eWaste, many countries, US states, and even cities have eWaste proposals in various stages of becoming law. The common thread that is emerging is producer responsibility: the company that makes the stuff needs to be responsible for it at the end of its life. In some cases, companies pay a fee to a government recycling program. In others, the companies take the products back themselves. One very good source of information about these regulations is EIATRACK. All of the big equipment producers have product take-back programs; I suggest you speak with your particular vendors.

The problem of eWaste is also mitigated somewhat by a regulation that went into effect in 2006 in the European Union, and which is emerging as a common platform for laws in other places.

Called "RoHS" for Reduction of Hazardous Substances, it bans six specific substances in electronics (lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, cadmium, and two flame retardants), subject to certain exemptions and limitations. The practical effect of this is that electronics will be less hazardous to recycle at the end of their useful life, and the stuff that eventually makes it into landfills will be less toxic.

Now, onto the broad question: How can CIOs help (or minimize harm to) the environment?

Probably the biggest thing, in my opinion, is to buy and operate less hardware.

Data centers use an enormous amount of electricity to run and cool the computers, and the generation of that electricity can contribute a lot of carbon to a company's carbon footprint. By fitting more virtual servers onto less physical servers, a company can use a lot less electricity--not to mention seeing other operational advantages.

CIOs can also make a positive impact by factoring electricity usage into enterprise purchasing decisions for workstations, and admin policy decisions (such as when workstations are put into hibernation mode after periods of being idle).

They can make technology and managerial decisions that facilitate working remotely: the pollution savings from non-commuting helps the environment, and the utility savings from not having a full-time office at the company help both the company's bottom line and the environment.

This isn't, of course, as simple as it sounds but plenty of companies are learning to to do it right.

Now what would YOU do. If you have suggestions or success stories .... please leave a comment.

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