What goes into the Networked Office of 2005

A building that has inbuilt wired network connections potentially saves time on cabling installation (up to a month). The flip side is that it offers no flexibility in the way organizations design their work environments. For example, if organizations are looking to provide ubiquitous wireless LAN (WLAN) coverage, they don't need a lot of cabling, and may have paid for excess cabling.

Redundant links are a thing of the past. Offices of 2005 must have resilient links. This means using all-active links and devices, and not sitting idle until a link goes down. Businesses need to use all the resources that they invested in, and having an n-1 resilient architecture allows networks to recover quickly in case of failure - without users ever knowing there was a problem.

VoIP is definitely a given for a greenfield site, in which case only network cabling needs to be provided. The cost savings are too great to ignore and the technology is now mature enough to be deployed throughout the enterprise. Where there were four drops to a desk, today there's only one (for an IP handset or a softphone or a PC/laptop). Keep resiliency in mind when designing a network infrastructure for VoIP.

Videoconferencing will also be an integral part of the 2005 office. With many employees working in remote offices, at homes, hotels and public areas, videoconferencing will be a vital part of a converged collaboration toolset with colleagues, business partners and customers. With people geographically dispersed, videoconferencing and other converged applications that enhance the human experience will drive collaboration and productivity.

As far as wireless is concerned, consideration must be given in the design stage to a WLAN strategy - both from a technical and human interaction perspective. WLAN coverage should be ubiquitous, especially with the adoption of voice over WLAN, and all parts of the office space and even the immediate outdoor area should get coverage. Consideration should also be given about how WLAN will change the behaviour of workers (more freedom) and allow for these changes in the design of the work environment.

Having said that, wireless and wired networks will co-exist for sometime. There could be a time when the network edge becomes completely wireless but bandwidth and quality of service, among other issues, need to be sorted out before this becomes reality.

Jae-Won Lee is product marketing manager, data networking solutions Nortel Networks Asia Pacific

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