• United States

N+I: Keeping an eye on emerging technologies

May 26, 20043 mins
Enterprise Applications

* InteropNet iLabs puts emerging technologies to the test

During NetWorld+Interop in Las Vegas this month, it was clear that networking technology has turned a corner. The announcements, side conversations, and the general high energy on the show floor were encouraging for this network-engineering retread. In the InteropNet iLabs, the exceptional members of the InteropNet NOC team together with a wide range of engineers from participating product and services companies demonstrated interoperating technologies for wireless solutions, VoIP using SIP, and multi-protocol network services using MPLS.

The implications of these technologies on outsourcing may not be obvious but one of the key components of all of these implementations is the management system that overlays the solution. In addition, each of these technologies has clear applicability in many enterprise implementations. Therein lies the connection with outsourcing: the integration of new technologies and their management into the existing enterprise infrastructure.

In the Advanced Internetworking Initiative (AII) lab, the iLabs team demonstrated how an MPLS core – usually provided by a service provider in the “real world” – allows for a multitude of service types to be delivered over a common infrastructure. This is achieved while isolating users from one another as appropriate for each service.

Interestingly, the MPLS infrastructure delivers exceptional control for the provider allowing them to offer varied service options for customers. This technology means that customers of connectivity services will have more opportunity to decide the cost/benefit tradeoff best suited to their requirements. The AII demonstrated technologies from an exceptionally broad range of companies.

Similarly, the VoIP using SIP iLab showed the benefits of the emerging interoperability of VoIP. The iLabs team worked tirelessly on the deployment of voice solutions over the iLabs infrastructure. Clearly, the management of the network to support the quality of service necessary for effective voice communications was a primary concern of the team as members built the interoperability demonstration.

While unable to demonstrate every possible connection between VoIP elements in the limited time of show, the team created a compelling demonstration of many of the possible combinations. Again, enterprises will be developing VoIP projects and will require third-party services and management for those projects. Again, the VoIP iLab was supported by a cadre of solution providers and iLabs engineers combined in a uniquely cooperative way.

The third iLabs demonstration was of wireless security and the interoperability of 802.1x authentication, together with supporting the wireless infrastructure with policy-based components to manage the various services delivered by the wireless network infrastructure. While still evolving, the interoperability of the alternatives is improving dramatically, and wireless implementations are clearly gathering speed in the enterprise. From authentication to encryption and from element management to policy enforcement, the infrastructure necessary for complex wireless projects was effectively demonstrated by the iLabs team and the supporting company engineers.

Each of these technologies demonstrates the vital importance of management for monitoring and administration of the resulting infrastructure. Whether the technologies are delivered internally or through an outside service provider, the monitoring and administration of the emerging technologies and their complex interactions creates the key challenge for both service providers and their customers.

Network World reported extensively on the details of N+I during the show, so please visit Network World Fusion for additional information on the iLabs and the individual contributing engineers and companies. As a long-time proponent of N+I, the InteropNet, and now the iLabs, I would encourage you to review the various technology demonstrations and announcements from this year’s show and to consider attending next year. Some of what you see will undoubtedly apply to your upcoming projects.