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Issue of December 2003 

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The network of the future

What will the enterprise network of the future look like? Is it possible to demonstrate a practical working model? Can we have a network with cutting edge technologies that have crossed the typically over-hyped 'concept' stage to a 'ready for practical implementation' state?

These were the questions faced by the Network Magazine editorial team when they decided to set up The Future Enterprise (TFE) at Technology Senate 2003. The concept behind The Future Enterprise was to have a futuristic technology showcase pavilion. It had to be futuristic yet anchored to reality. The technologies had to be tried and tested, yet, practical and easy to deploy in the enterprise setting.

For the road ahead

With the assistance of IIT Bombay (for Basic Network Design) and Datacraft India Limited (for network integration), this futuristic network evolved from being just a dream to reality.

During the course of network design, certain key attributes that the network requires were identified.

  • Users should be able to access the enterprise network irrespective of their physical location.
  • Users must have access to applications over multiple devices.
  • Product interoperability is key.

The future

With businesses transcending in nature from localized to global in nature, it's essential that the enterprise be global in nature. This can be achieved by providing connectivity using wireless technology.

The technologies chosen for connectivity were 802.11g for LAN access and GPRS connectivity for mobile users. 802.11g has the advantage of higher bandwidth (54 Mbps) compared to present day 802.11b (11Mbps) WLANs. This makes it more attractive for providing user mobility over the LAN. GPRS makes it possible for mobile users to connect to the network using devices like PDAs and laptops.

On the applications front, The Future Enterprise demonstrated how unified messaging makes it possible for users to access applications over devices like IP phones and PDAs. Some of the applications displayed over IP phones included e-mail access and live information updates from the Internet.

The applications displayed over PDAs included access to functions like messaging, databases, and CRM. In addition to these, laptops and PCs with 802.11g connections were connected to the application servers. The Future Enterprise employed a 2 Mbps RF link from Sify to connect to the Internet.

Interoperability is essential for the way ahead. This was brought out clearly in the network by using products from multiple vendors—especially those from competing vendors.

Datacraft's India Limited's solutions and services capabilities
Datacraft India Limited (DIL) offers application networks solutions for enterprises and telecom service providers. The company provides turnkey integration systems for IP Telephony, Customer interactive solution including call center technologies, service provider industry solution, and enterprise portals solutions. DIL also offers infrastructure solutions for network infrastructure, networked storage, security and cabling/wireless systems.

The company offers IP Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), Voice over IP solutions like Voice VPN, IP Centrex, unified messaging and iBOSS operational and business systems for billing, fulfillment, and assurance management to help service providers compete effectively in a deregulated telecom environment.

Datacraft Managed Services monitors, optimizes and manages IT infrastructure in an online, real-time environment. Based on the Global Services Operating Architecture, the services are delivered worldwide, 24x7x365 through Datacraft's STARtrac centers

located in Singapore, Tokyo, Seoul, Wellington and Bangalore, and globally through Dimension Data's operating centers.

Datacraft Professional Services provides consultancy, assessment, project management and integration for application network systems such as IPT, security, call center integration, and iBOSS business and operation support services.

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