3Com Exec Addresses Network Scalability Issues

LOS ANGELES (03/08/2000) - In a keynote address here at the Computer Telephony Expo, 3Com Corp. CTO and senior vice president John Hart identified a forthcoming network transformation driven by the far-reaching impact of the Web. As networks prepare for the convergence of voice, data, and video, Hart emphasized that scalability will be a crucial and determining factor.

Contrasting the PSTN (public switched telephone network) and the Internet, Hart suggested that the Web offered a solid model for constructing the network infrastructure of the future. Whereas the PSTN is rigid, complex, and was built during a 100-year period, the Web was built in a comparatively short 10-year span and is able to scale quickly to meet surging demand.

Calling this model a dot-com network, the key elements of the Web model Hart identified were scalability, pervasiveness, and seamlessness. Leveraging these elements, Hart conveyed, is critical to the effectiveness of the converged networks of the future.

In order to be successful, this dot-com, packet-based infrastructure needs to sustain dynamic control of a lot of information and must not be limited by proprietary constraints, Hart said.

A reliable packet-based network infrastructure with QoS (quality of service) can be attained by adding redundant systems and exploiting available bandwidth with multiple queues, according to Hart.

In addition, Hart predicted a proliferation of wireless and wired devices at the edge of the network, which will require a packet-based infrastructure that is flexible enough to support this growth.

Hart's long-term vision for networks is user-centric -- a world in which users are identified by a URL, and networks have the capability of moving services around to follow the mobile user.

"This transformation will happen because of the Web and it will happen very fast," Hart said. "There is nothing else that compares with the pervasive reach of the Web."

Cathleen Moore is an InfoWorld reporter.

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