January 2008 Archives

Indian internet disruption hits UK

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Internet services between India and Europe have been disrupted after a ship accidentally severed two undersea cables in the Mediterranean.

Full story here

One UK software company told Computer Weekly that it had taken four hours to send a 3K file to its offices in India.

Do you have offices in India that you need to communicate with? Have you been hit? Post a comment let me know.

Services went down on Wednesday at 2.30pm Indian local time when the cables were accidentally cut. Repairs could take up to 15 days according to RS Perhar, secretary of the ISP Association of India.

Broadband minister should look east for inspiration

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The UK government must set a deadline for ensuring ubiquitous access to high-speed broadband if any plan to improve access is to succeed, a Japanese minisiter has advised.

At an address to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Kiyooshi Mori, the Japanese vice-minister for communications policy, said that Japan had already rolled out 100Mbps fibre broadband to 85% of households.

Japan expects ubiquitous access for businesses and consumers to high-speed broadband by 2010 – the result of a four-year government programme designed to improve access.

Studies showed that the ICT industry accounts for 40% of real Japanese GDP. This helped the government realise the importance of starting a programmme for ubiquitous access with a deadline.”

Mori said the government also introduced competition policies to make it easy for new ISPs to enter the market and for open, shared access to networks. As a result, the price of broadband per 100kbit/s is 0.07 dollars compared with the UK where it is 0.69 dollars.


The next broadband minister after Baroness Shriti Vadera

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Carry on broadband

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"There is no evidence to suggest that those countries that have deployed fibre are in any way better off economically than those that haven't"

Mark Swarbrick, Deputy Director, BERR (formerly DTI)

"Does connectivity impact on the economy? We don't know for certain yet, but there is an understanding that it does."

Antony Walker, CEO, Broadband Stakeholder Group, which the government set-up to investigate broadband access in the UK.

Nice to know that the right hand knows what the left hand is doing.

Virgin Media says Government should relax

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Neil Berkett, CEO of broadband provider Virgin Media, said the government’s current ‘hands-off’ approach to regulating investment in broadband was the right one and warned off intervention which could “disrupt the market”.

“Regulation is neither necessary nor recommended. It would disincentivise companies from investing in networks,” said Berkett.

At the same time, Mark Swarbick, Deputy Director at BERR (formerly the DTI) said that there would be those that would be left without access, because it would be uneconomic for operators to invest in certain areas, and that the government would need to intervene in some way.

Sigh.

Operators are telling the government to leave them to it, when we all know the market isn’t perfect. Government knows it should be doing something, but doesn’t know what. And Ofcom is scared if it does anything at all, then broadband development will come to a standstill.

Meanwhile, Joe Public and Joe Public Ltd have to go on with sub-standard broadband.


New UK broadband minister, but are we better off?

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Baroness Shriti Vadera has just been named as the new UK broadband minister after Stephen Timms moved on to the Department for Work and Pensions.

I really hope that she stays in this position longer than her predecessor.

Cabinet reshuffles happen all the time and ministers move on.

But businesses in the UK need the assurance that the government takes broadband development seriously enough to appoint someone with a sense of permanency; to see network development through to the end.

Trouble working with Cisco Gold partners?

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Has anyone else had this problem?

A Cisco user told me that his company had worked with an accredited Cisco partner, but that the partner’s lack of knowledge in being able to install one specific Cisco application meant that his company was left to work out some installation issues itself.

Are you pleased with the skill level of your systems integrator when it comes to installing Cisco
applications?

If not, post a comment or e-mail me.

Dead from Cisco Networkers 2008 - day 2 part 3

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Live from Cisco Networkers 2008 - day 2 part 2

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Network services create new revenue stream

The Dublin company which owns and manages Holiday Inns and Crowne Plaza Hotels in Ireland has installed a voice network to offer guests cheap calls and to create a new revenue stream for the business.

Irish hotelier Tifco has installed a unified communications network at four hotels and plans to deploy it at a fifth one by June. The network allows guests to accept calls to their rooms from their mobile phones. It also allows a guest’s mobile to connect via Wi-Fi connection through the hotel’s network, which the routes the call as a fixed line call rather than a mobile one, which saves the guest money.

“When you walk into a hotel room, most people don’t even look at the phone because of the rates hotels charge. With this network in place, I can offer the customer cheaper access and create a new revenue stream for the business,” said Gerry Martin, IT manager for Tifco.

Although Gerry didn’t go into figures, this is a good example of how the network can offer new services to customers and help drive the business forward.

Live from Cisco Networkers 2008 - day 2 part 1

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Network managers: master project management to get better salaries

Network technicians will need to learn project management skills if corporate rollouts of wider and more advanced networks are to be successful, according to attendees at the Cisco Networkers 2008 this week.

IT managers currently involved with deploying wireless local area networks, combined voice and data and unified communications said networks had become the focus for delivering business services and demonstrating budgeting and scheduling skills were essential to be seen as valuable by management.

Martin Godfery, network and telephony manager at the University of Plymouth, is in the process of deploying a converged data, voice and video network for 30,000 students and 3,000 staff.

He said forecasting the amount of bandwidth the business will use in five years time, as new applications are deployed on the network, would be a key skill to learn to ensure right investment in network hardware was made today.

“Management will give IT a fixed budget to last over a period of time. But network managers need to be able forecast how introducing new applications could change bandwidth requirements," he said.

Godfery said managers needed to be able to draft budget proposals which made this clear, so that if the business case changed, funds could be allocated. He said that deploying network services such as wireless was needed to ensure the University stayed current in attracting students and more applications would be deployed in the future.

Raymond Mohr, director of IT at Balfour Beatty’s rail division in Germany, said that network managers should train in scheduling work if they are involved in larger and ad-hoc rollouts.

He said he regularly needs to set up reliable wireless networks for construction and repair teams quickly, so being able to draft and plan schedules was skill network managers needed to master.

"They also need to master contingency planning if there are delays to projects or if the business needs a network deployed at short notice. If they can demonstrate this kind of planning to the business then they will be able to get higher salaries" he said.

According to Yankee Group, an IT research analyst company, network design experts are no longer involved in hands-on configuration, but rather in strategic design and architecture. Mastering project management and business skills will become essential as they come under the management spotlight.

“Networks are strategic and the role of a network designer is becoming much more important,” said Yankee Group research analyst Zeus Kerravala. “People who take on design roles impact the strategy of their organisations."

Live from Cisco Networkers 2008 - day 1 part 3

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Cisco, Tesco and next generation networks

Cisco will embed standards based software that delivers advanced voice and video communication features within its network hardware as it predicts demand for advanced network services in business will rise. The company is already in talks with Tesco about deploying a next generation network.

Chris Dedicot, President of Cisco Europe, said at keynote speech in Barcelona today that next generation networks – networks which can handle a mixture of data, fixed and mobile voice and video across a single infrastructure – will become a standard requirement of businesses within the next five years.

An example of a next generation network could be a wireless network in a hotel that detects a customer’s mobile phone and assigns a key code to the guest’s handset to open a room door. Dedicot said that Cisco was in talks with Tesco to deliver a next generation network throughout its business to enhance its operations.

Dedicot outlined that Tesco was looking to offer enhanced inter-staff communications, training and CCTV store monitoring using a next generation network.

“Traditionally, IT was there to support the business strategy. The reality today is that IT is creating new business models. Advanced video services and the ability to collaborate is central to this,” said Dedicot.

Forrester analyst Christopher Mines said that Cisco will push its collaboration software as voice and video services are more visible – and therefore, more valued – by the business than a piece of hardware like a router or a switch could be.

“However, in these software-dominated arenas, it will face much stronger competition than the "seven dwarfs" of the network business,” he said. Businesses thinking of buying into a single hardware and software technology stack from Cisco should try and negotiate discounts because of the strong competition in the market for collaboration software.

Live from Cisco Networkers 2008 - day 1 part 2 - Cisco Application Network Services products launched

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Cisco told business users at its Networkers 2008 conference that it will release more network management hardware and software under its Data Centre 3.0 product suite to speed the delivery of enterprise software applications.

Analysts said the release of these tools aim to strengthen Cisco’s hold in data centres by providing the underlying network infrastructure, in addition to providing standards based applications such as videoconferencing, voice communications and collaboration to run over the network.

Cisco announced several new optimisation products at the conference in Barcelona today. These included the Cisco ACE 4710 appliance, which allocates the computing power of virtual servers to run specific applications faster; and Cisco WAAS mobile software, which provides application acceleration for mobile workers.

Ram Velga, senior director of data centres for Cisco, said deciding how to make the best use of bandwidth when applications needed more processing power was the main challenge for network managers in the data centre.

“The ongoing trend of consolidation - people pulling more network applications into a tighter space – and the ongoing trend to virtualise servers and storage increases the bandwidth required and changes the addressing schemes network managers must have in place to make sure their applications run,” he said.

Live from Cisco Networkers 2008 - day 1 part 1

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Cisco is slowly becoming a software company. Why is that?

The network is changing; it is not a means of shipping data anymore. It is more like a central pool of shared services – in other words, a mainframe. People I’ve spoken to here at the event say that network software, rather than desktop software, is where things are headed.

Cisco has already sewn up the hardware end of network infrastructure, but it needs to get a foothold in network services like video conferencing – why else did it buy Webex?

Services like video conferencing, voice communications and collaboration are sexy, and most of all, visible to the people that matter. A router or a switch, not matter how well designed, is not visible to the boardroom. The contribution of hardware to a business’s bottom line can be marginalised and Cisco is looking to raise its profile through software.

But while Cisco has been the dominant player in network infrastructure, it is fairly new to software, unlike IBM and Microsoft.

The key question here is: will Cisco’s software be up to scratch for enterprise customers to take seriously and if it isn’t, how well will its hardware integrate with its competitor’s software?

Bad Broadband - a reader's complaint

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Are the days of misleading broadband claims and bad service finally coming to an end?

Not according to our readers. Here's what one had to say:

ex-Ofcom chief becomes spin doctor

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The prime minister, Gordon Brown, has hired ex-Ofcom chief Stephen Carter as chief of strategy and principal advisor.

Broadband gets political

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Broadband is rising up the political agenda and you can help with a bit of direct action.

UK Broadband - who is responsible for it?

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Oh dear. Why is it so hard to make sure people get the broadband speeds they pay for?

Dozens of Computer Weekly readers have written to say how their connection speeds never reach the holy grail of the advertised “up to 8 mbps” figure and yet operators are allowed to continue charging and advertising against illusory headline rates.