June 2009 Archives

What Not To Do With £200m Of Your Money

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So the government's Digital Britain roadmap goes into operation today.

Given that there are 245 pages of the report wot launches it, I have focused on one obvious element, which is how much public money is being spent on the great new digital Britain, that amount being £200m. Now, clearly, the government is looking to significantly increase the total amount of investment money available through various sources, but on face value, putting £200m towards a complete overhaul of the UK's wired and wireless networks is akin to me and mate going down the pub and trying to get p****d on a fiver between us.

What I still find amazing is the lack of knowledge among the advisors for these reports - come on, who are you? - of all the optimisation technologies I immerse myself in, so you can get more from what's already there, rather than replacing copper with fibre everywhere. From back-end to the mobile device in your paw there are excellent optimisation products at incredibly competitive prices, and all UK-developed.

Try jetNEXUS and Zeus for Load-Balancing and App Delivery, DBAM for WAN optimisation - DBAM now has completely hardware-free acceleration so forget Riverbed and the like; just a few lines of code on the App Server and acceleration to any client type (mobile included) is instant and excellent - watch this space for more details.

For basic acceleration and always staying connected, regardless of which network type you're on - wired, WLAN, WWAN, Mobile - try Netmotion or Brand Communications. Brand even lets you aggregate bandwidth (channel bond) across all these networks simultaneously (as available).which is pretty cool.And I'm about to start some testing with another UK start-up: http://www.voip-x.co.uk/ - cramming loads of secure VoIP channels down a very small amount of bandwidth - e.g. 256Kbps - with the ability to create private networks, so free calls everywhere etc.

And then there's Video3 - www.video3.co.uk - with a new release of its Internet conferencing software/service, so that we don't have to stop all the meetings and conferences (inc. online training) just because our travel budgets have been slashed. And this stuff works perfectly down 1Mbps ADSL lines. The Scottish government actually does know about this product because its NHS uses it, but the info clearly hasn't been passed on to Westminster.

I mean, why doesn't the government know about these UK technologies, support them and make use of them? That way, all the investment could be put into the next generation of mobile data networks and we can do broadband anytime, anywhere. I mean, who needs WiFi hot spots if you have proper mobile broadband?

So, whoever you are out there responsible for the vision that is Digital Britain, please come and see me for 500 lines of "I must take more interest in the UK data optimisation technology start-ups" and a few contacts...

And talking of ADSL and the wonder that is BT - here's another company that should pay heed to optimisation technologies. F'rinstance - at the home of the CTO of yet another UK start-up that should be on everyone's radar - NewNetTechnologies - one Phil Snell, here is his latest experience of BT's business class broadband service.

"The service was down for five days last week and from the weekend to now, so I'm using a Nokia E71 to get online."

See what I mean about mobile data being the future?

Cisco Expands On Original Beatles Theory (plus wine tip)

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Just back from a long weekend in Dartmouth (with many thanks to the Harbour Master's office for their unsecured WLAN Internet access) and plunged back into the mad, virtual world of IT from one where landing crabs was the essential ingredient of life (as well as eating them of  course, and for this I recommend The Cricket Arms at Beesands, from where the crabs are sourced - the sea not the pub).

So, I was delighted to be thrown back in at the deep end and see that Cisco has turned the volume up to 11 on IT insanity by claiming that by 2013, telecommunications operators will deliver at least 48 hours of Internet connectivity in a single day. Which makes 14 days a week, effectively - beating the Beatles' previous record by six days.

This, it is claimed, will be achieved by multitasking and background tasking. Cisco obviously hasn't observed what happens when Vista attempts such apparently trivial tasks... Also, women might argue that - by the same metric - they can therefore deliver 72 hour days and have been doing so for centuries.

Indeed, Cisco claims we are already witnessing 36 hour days.I hadn't actually noticed. It would certainly explain UK railway services however...But if Cisco is serious about this and took advantage of my client DBAM's WAN acceleration technology (where we've witnessed up to 10,000 x acceleration on previously compressed files - scary but true) then we could get an entire lifetime covered in just 24 hours. Which provides a great solution to the question "if only I could live my life again" and gives us not so much a groundbreaking moment as a Groundhog Day breaking moment.

If you read tomorrow's blog and it's exactly the same, then you know something's gone wrong...

Wine Tip from Devon: Try Sharpham's Winery at Totnes. Excellent "raspberry tones" in its rosé and fragant, spicy whites. The reds are s**t however...

VirginMedia 50meg Broadband Week 2

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Well this week has been interesting, speed overall has ben good, but it does drop to around 10 -12 meg at the weekend - if this is due to a large number of users or not I am not sure. Most of the time it is at a healthy 35-45 meg range.

I am very pleased to announce that the Airport appears to play very very nicely with the Virgin box, and there have been no drop outs at all of signal, something that was happening even on the 5GHz with my previous provider. Once you start to get signal problems you become a little hawk-like with watching the signal bars on a mac, and so far all is frankly, excellent in that regard.

I am enjoying the upload speed an awful lot as well, when I am uploading vids, this can be a tiresome and boring job, but with around 1.6 meg (which I know is slower than BeThere), it steams alonn.

I have just over a week off coming up soon, and that's going to put the line to the test, as I will be using virtual worlds a lot over long periods. I am going to try and record my total useage over that time, so I can gauge what an over the top super user could potentially do.

Overall I am pleased with the service, I want to monitor the weekend situation over the next few weeks. 

Rising Above The Clouds

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Sometimes it makes a refreshing change to get away from the plumbing that works the Internet and folks' networks, and get stuck into some application stuff instead.

After all, without apps, what's the plumbing for (other than keeping a few of us in jobs)? So, I welcomed an invite from TIBCO to attend a virtual launch of a new product, TIBCO Silver, defined as a "rapid application delivery platform which has been specifically designed for building and deploying cloud applications inside Global 2000 environments."

Well, it makes a change from Ethernet switches. First, the "venue". These virtual exhibitions crack me up  - I love the little people wandering around the halls - I even thought I recognised one or two of them. And it seems to work - apparently there were 1500 registered attendees.

You could also "wander around" and get info on all areas of the TIBCO offering. Just no scantily clad girls or beer, otherwise it's a perfect replacement for the old Networks shows at the NEC (oh, and the lack of Balti's in the evening - that is a sad loss).

So, onto the presentation. While obviously pre-recorded and therefore not exactly interactive, the content itself was genuinely interesting. Basically it delivers for me on two premises - 1: it removes the virtuality from the "Cloud" and makes real Enterprise apps available in that fluffy environment and 2: it massively reduces deployment time. 'Months to minutes' is the mantra (enough "M"s) and it's one I'm all for, following what we call the "Thingamy" path, me being a big fan of said Enterprise software start-up which offers the same short-cuts to success, as indeed does my recently blogged Sunrise Sostenuto ITSM. Looks like the ISVs are coming out of the dark ages at last and realising there is more to life than developing products that are so complex that they never actually work properly. I don't need to name names...

TIBCO SVP of Engineering, Matt Quinn said, in his presentation, that he'd built and deployed an entire application in a weekend using TIBCO Silver (imagine if the company was called HiHo) which is proof of sorts but it'd be even better if we could see it in the flesh, so to speak.  He used the phrase "changing the question from not how but when?" which is a nice summation of what TIBCO Silver is looking to achieve.

All very promising though and good to see the "Cloud" being harnessed for real use. Issues such as availability, security, integration, governance and scalability are all part of the framework and deployment extends to high availability, fully redundant configs etc - proper business applications in other words, however cloudy the environment.

And we got a new TLA - TIBCO's Complex Event Processing (CEP) technology which is designed to "build in 'self aware' elasticity" - in other words it automates as much as possible, so we can all go down the pub instead. Applications can resize themselves on demand, automatically - now that IS scalability.

Note: TIBCO has partnered with Amazon for external facing applications and the first public beta of TIBCO Silver will be available on the 30th June 2009 so check out their website for more progress on this. Sensibly, TIBCO has also partnered with VMware to move this stuff forward.

You might also want to check out my old mate Den Howlett's blog on the company:


Well, all this virtual chasing around the virtual halls has tired me out - time for a bit of refreshment. Sadly, the office doesn't have its own bar, but it does have a kettle and tea bags (even in Andorra)...


International Broadband Wars

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First to extend a warm welcome to Heidi's blogs on her newly installed VirginMedia 50Meg Home Service broadband connection on our Networks Generation blog.

However, those who noted a recent(ish) blog in which I explained that Andorra Telecom has been busy providing FTTH across the country, won't be surprised at the announcement that I'm about to retaliate up here in the Pyreneen mountains, by taking said service which promises "up to 100Mbps". This should be installed in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.

Moreover, the package - which includes free calls across the country (like saying free calls across the whole of the Lake District) and five hours of free calls per month to Europe (i.e. parents) actually works out cheaper than my 1Mbps ADSL connection + very costly calls to Europe (SkypeOut takes this pain away currently but in less than perfect audio).

Game on...

CCTV Applications I Hadn't Thought Of...

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Having recently written a white paper on IP Surveillance systems for D-Link, of the many applications I described within, none were related to that which has led to my morning cuppa being rudely interrupted; namely by footage on BBC Breakfast TV of a neighbourly dispute in Lincolnshire whereby three neighbours had installed CCTV cameras focused on another neghbour's house and garden to prove what dodgy neighbours they were.

The dodgy neighbours apparently are indeed a bit "dodgy" but playing up to the cameras in this instance is inevitable, such as their claimed simulated sex; she certainly had a very large bra... And the best bit - the name of the village this is all taking place in: "Wrangle".

And this isn't a one-off situation - quote from another public dispute: "My opposite neighbour is making our life hell. He has 5, yes 5 CCTV cameras at the back of his house and 2 at the front."

Of course, there are two problems here. One - The Data Protection Act, which covers the use of CCTV cameras in commercial situations, doesn't apply to domestic use, so the only laws which apply are those which normally relate to still and video photography: Two - CCTV technology AKA IP Surveillance - is now incredible cheap and connects straight into your domestic WiFi.

What I love about this stuff is that, whatever the IT vendors come up with as the raison(s) d'etre for their technologies, the person in the street comes up with far more personal applications to drive the market with. Remember - the only reason we had CD and now DVD drives in our PCs/laptops is because this revolution started with home computers when the office was still using Frisbee Net technology - or real networks of course...

Have you entered our awards yet?


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