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Contributing Writer

Infrastructure as commodity

Oct 07, 20023 mins
Data CenterNetworking

Do you care whether your traffic rides over frame relay, ATM or something else? Qwest would argue that you don’t.

Do you care whether your traffic rides over frame relay, ATM or something else? Qwest would argue that you don’t.

Last month at Network World’s State of the WAN event in Richardson, Texas, Bob Schroeder, senior director of IP product management at Qwest, said that IT executives are more concerned about the delivery of their information than the pipe that carries it. (you can still register for the last leg of the tour) He argues that IT executives want to be able to pick and choose services from providers based on the type of traffic they’ll send down the line.

In the future, you might be able to draw up a contract with your service provider based on multimedia services. Whether the provider throws that multimedia down a frame relay, IP or ATM pipe, or some combination of the three, will be irrelevant in your negotiations. Instead, you’ll want to know what the guarantee is on the service, and you’ll want reports telling how those packets were delivered.

Taking the pipes out of the picture will free up carriers to concentrate on building an infrastructure that supports exact data types. The carriers would be able to develop specific networks to handle voice over IP or streaming media. Others would be more tuned toward high-volume, less delay-sensitive traffic such as messaging.

Schroeder says that IT executives don’t want the hassle of figuring out if they should be on a frame or ATM network. He adds that they don’t need this information to get traffic from Point A to Point B.

It was a contentious point for other panelists and attendees. Some argued that they don’t want to give up control over which path their traffic will travel. They know and trust frame relay, and want to know that that’s the underlying network. Others said that not having to worry about the transport mechanism would let them focus on more important things, such as end-to-end security and quality of service (QoS).

I’m inclined to side with Qwest. I believe that as more data types are thrown down the chute and users expect a consistently high QoS, IT executives will have to give up some level of micromanagement in the network.

Schroeder was not alone in arguing that WAN infrastructure will soon become a commodity and that carriers and service providers will have to rely on the various levels of service they can guarantee to survive.

Do you trust the carriers to pick the right pipe for your data? Let me know your thoughts.