Editorial: What's with the Star Trek obsession?

Hands up all you Star Trek fans. Don't hide, I know you're 'out there'.

Call it a hunch, but I reckon I know exactly why network managers like being a trekkie. Starship Enterprise. This massive 'enterprise' travels the universe loaded with all sorts of technical wizardry -- least of all a massive network -- ready for just about anything.

The scary thing is if you compare the mighty Starship Enterprise with your average corporate enterprise there are some disturbing similarities.

Both are large 'moving' corporate entities that exist largely for self-interest. Both find themselves floating into uncharted galaxies without a real clue of what's lurking behind the next asteroid.

Worst of all, both might suddenly suffer from complete network failure, sending the whole ship spiralling out of control.

With this frightening reality in mind, this edition of Network World investigates the future of wireless data transmission. While wireless data speeds are not a patch on the speed of the Enterprise's transporter beams, the technology is developing to become just as mission-critical to the corporate network as the transporter beam is to the Enterprise.

The second feature in this issue taps into the competitive psyche of the managing directors in Australia's 'top four' networking vendors.

If you can imagine each of these prominent figures is equal to Dr Spock's standing on an international scale, it makes an interesting read.

Vendors and the CEOs of large organisations are often accused of steering the company way off into outer space. All the crew on board feel they can do is hang on for the ride. Maybe so, but if you are in charge of the network running the show, you have more power than you imagine.

There is one important distinction between the corporate enterprise and Starship Enterprise you must remember.

All good network managers should have a direct line to the ship's captain. If so, don't be afraid to pick up the phone and say: "Excuse me sir, but we appear to be stuck in a technology time warp."

As trekkies will testify, you probably have a better chance of steering the enterprise home safely.

Mark Jones, editor,

Network World

Mark_Jones@idg.com.au

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