Science sets stage for ‘virtual enterprise’

Networks so advanced they can be established in real time across the enterprise is just one of the many visions of the Centre for Networking Technologies for the Information Economy, a division of CSIRO.

At the launch of the CeNTIE Foundation Network this month, Terry Percival, the centre’s director, spoke of a five-year time span for seeing what is technically possible today becoming commercially available.

“Over the next five years, expect to be able to do what isn’t possible today,” Percival said. “Users will be able to assume bandwidth is free and infinite and have access to technology which enables virtual enterprises.”

Percival said CeNTIE is in the process of commercialising the technology across four industry sectors: Tele-health – virtual critical care, surgical training, and personal monitoring; Media Systems – collaborative movie editing and post-production; Tele-collaboration – distance education; and Information Brokering – integrated, multi-party enterprise applications.

“Our model is to force price drops by allowing carriers to provide the services,” Percival said. “We now have VPNs, however, the technology we are working on will replace VPNs by allowing enterprises to create their own networks on demand. This ‘Virtual Private Internet’ technology is ideal for enterprises wanting to establish networks between sites, including the rate of bandwith, from end-to-end and not just the access line.”

In addition to CSIRO, CeNTIE’s foundation members include the University of NSW, the University of Technology Sydney, Nortel Networks and IP1 Australia. The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts provides funding for CeNTIE.

CeNTIE’s infrastructure consists of 10Gbps per wavelength fibre from IP1. This link – from Melbourne to Perth – has six fibre pairs with each being able to accommodate up to 100 10Gbps wavelengths and is claimed to be the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

To demonstrate the technology, a voice and video collaboration session was conducted in real time from Sydney to Perth. Senator Richard Alston, who was present at the opening, took part in a video editing session between Sydney and Perth. Alston gave directions and the video editor in Perth applied them.

“This demonstration could have been done with existing television broadcast technology, but to do that we would need a TV station,” Percival said. “We can make this available to any desktop.”

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More about CSIROCSIRODepartment of CommunicationsIP1 AustraliaNortel NetworksUniversity of NSWUniversity of Technology Sydney

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