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Convergence Mania

This issue's cover story comes at a time when structured cabling, telecommunications and networking professionals are all being swept up in what can only be described as IP convergence mania.


July 1, 2007  


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This issue’s cover story comes at a time when structured cabling, telecommunications and networking professionals are all being swept up in what can only be described as IP convergence mania.

It is apparent that unlike other technology trends that have not delivered on their promise such as fiber to the desk and Asynchronous Transfer Mode (see View from the board column on p. 30), this one certainly has enough staying power to dominate the computing and networking landscape for many years to come.

The reason being that from a purely business perspective, IP convergence makes sense. Later this summer, results of the fifth annual Convergent Technologies Benchmarking Research Study Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) will be released.

It is noteworthy that the study will focus on the latest trends on convergent usage of a key group, namely small and mid-sized businesses across North America. CompTIA says it will include a detailed examination of the key purchasing drivers and value as well as new data on “specific applications and capabilities” companies are looking for.

As one vendor notes in our cover story, in today’s rapidly expanding communications world, video is fast becoming the media of choice to communicate, educate, train, inform and provide security in the workplace and institutions.

Meanwhile on the telecom front, business process services firm CGI Group Inc. wrote last year in a submission to the federal Telecommunications Policy Review Panel that IP convergence is opening the door to a flood of new applications and services that bridge the gap between telephony and data.

The hype surrounding IP convergence, it noted, has become a reality thanks to rapid advances in technology – the quality and reliability of VoIP calls, for example, have improved dramatically since the technology was first introduced in the mid-1990s, making them comparable to calls transmitted over circuit-switch networks.

“The flexibility and openness of an IP-based network enables the integration of next-generation applications and services,” the company wrote in the submission.

“Arguably the most important advantage offered by IP technology in today’s customer-driven economy is improved customer focus. Companies are faced with an ultimatum — deliver what customers want and need, when they want and need it, or go out of business.”

Pierre Blouin, CEO of MTS Allstream Inc., noted at the Canadian Telecom Summit ’07 held in June (see p. 6) that IP has created “enormous” pressure on the industry’s margins and technology underpinnings, but on the far side of this massive change is an opportunity for lower-cost products with far greater power and flexibility than every before.

“We have been talking about it for years,” Blouin said in his keynote speech. “It is now happening.”

As for the structured cabling connection, delegates at the BICSI Fall Conference in Las Vegas, Nev. would be well advised to attend a conference session on Sept. 13 entitled The Rising Value of Cabling Infrastructure featuring Herbert Congdon II of Tyco Electronics and Phil May, network operations centre manager at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.

“It’s time to look beyond the expense of cabling and cabling infrastructure and time to look at it is an investment,” the two write in the conference guide. “The exploding world of IP-based devices, higher data rates and cheaper storage media is all progressing towards a world of convergence and massive data generation.”