NextGen, Now

By : |November 26, 2005 0

How much is India Inc geared up for next generation networks? The
Voice&Data seminar in three cities showed that there are major challenges
that need to be addressed. While all the stakeholders-enterprise users, service
providers, technology and solution vendors, and the regulators-are doing their
bit for next generation networks, a lot more homework needs to be done by

The challenges are very important to address because service providers will
play a crucial role in enterprise networks. For instance, today, very basic next
generation services-such as VoIP, VPN, MPLS, managed services, and network
security-being offered by service providers, are influencing how CIOs plan their
own networks.

While IT heads across various verticals are quite sure about the next
generation features and services they want in their networks, they are still not
very sure of the specifics. Organizations need to be very clear on the business
systems and processes they want in place, the SLAs they require, the empowerment
they would like to give their employees, partners and buyers. Mapping all this
is going to be a daunting task, and CIOs will need active support from the other
functional heads.

Once there is clarity on this end, one will see service providers actively
working on building next generation networks, and services they would offer on
them. Today, most service providers, though working in small measures, are
themselves not too sure about the business models that will evolve. Especially
for the incumbents, who are primarily on TDM technology, next generation
networks mean huge investments. The service providers must, however, realize
that it is only with their support that the CIO will be able to go to his or her
CEO with a strong case for RoI.

There is one more big challenge-the regulatory hurdles coming in the way of
convergence. Service providers, enterprise users, and systems and network
integrators agree that next generation networks are meaningless unless
convergence is allowed. The good news is that TRAI is now pushing for next
generation networks.

Inspite of all the disagreements at the conference, the positive outcome was
the unanimous agreement on features of next generation networks. They will have
to be more secure and safe, given the fact that these networks will be most
vulnerable. They will have to be more adaptable given the expanding nature of
business dynamics where partners, suppliers, and buyers have to be meshed into
systems and where people from remote locations, and field and mobile workers can
get connected and work seamlessly. They will have to be more robust and reliable
because businesses are increasingly depending on them. They will have to be more
easily manageable compared to the highly complicated networks of today. They
will have to be more flexible so that new services can be rolled out faster, and
there is more room for maneuver. They will have to be based on more open
standards, and would have to be more simple to handle and access. They will have
to be converged networks, where voice, data, and video applications can run
smoothly. And, finally, they will have to bring communication costs down.

Let’s not be overwhelmed by the long list of expectations from the next
generation networks, but rejoice in the fact that enterprise users, equipment
and solution vendors, and service providers agree that next generation networks
will come. One only hopes that that it will not take very long.

Ibrahim Ahemed


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