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Conference heralds launch of a new BICSI

The transformation of BICSI began in earnest last month at the Winter Conference in Orlando."An evolution is underway in our field," new association president Russ Oliver told delegates in his inaugur...

January 1, 2004  

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The transformation of BICSI began in earnest last month at the Winter Conference in Orlando.

“An evolution is underway in our field,” new association president Russ Oliver told delegates in his inaugural speech. “Our traditional telecommunications base is expanding to become a communications, life safety and automation (CLA) industry, including wireless, security, cabling, voice, data, audio visual and automation.”

Oliver also praised John Payseur, his predecessor, for helping the association weather what he described as the “perfect storm” during the past two years.

An ambitious three-month agenda includes the revamping of BICSI’s mission statement and the creation of an ethics committee.

“We have many millions of dollars going in and out the door each year, we’re a voluntary-run organization with a very small staff,” said Oliver. “It would be helpful to have some outside eyes as well as some key people in the organization form an ethics committee.”

Despite the economic turmoil of the past 24 months, BICSI is in sound financial position. A treasurer’s report revealed that current cash on hand is US$2.1 million. That compares to two years ago when the organization had to borrow US$500,000 for operating capital, using its headquarters building in Tampa as collateral.

Long range plans will include creating partnerships with other professional associations and integrating the association’s registration programs into college level degree programs.

That change is necessary was evident in both the conference and exhibit halls.

“Overall there was a general feeling of optimism,” said Robert Horne, president of HorNET Consulting Services Inc. in Ottawa and a conference speaker. “They’re trying to expand the subject matter by bringing in experts from wireless and VoIP. That’s a good thing, as is the fact they’re trying to branch out and work with other associations.

“They obviously realize that CLA is an up-and-coming industry. They want to be part of it and have some type of influence.”

“”It seemed very frenetic to me,” said Diana Hayden, a spokesperson for MRV Communications Inc., one of more than 200 exhibitors. “Compared to other shows I’ve been to, there was a different type of vibrancy there. It was good.”

Conference topics included a discussion of the intelligent physical layer by Liam Galin, president and CEO of RiT Technologies Ltd., convergence trends, maximizing the ROI in mixed media networks and securing IP telephony for the Internet.

The structured cabling industry, said Galin, is becoming more mature and open to new ideas. An example of that is RiT, which pioneered Intelligent Physical Layer Management Solutions (IPMLS). It’s taken 12 years for it to go mainstream.

“This is a very conservative industry and to adopt new ideas takes time,” Galin told CNS in an interview. “The fact that 3,100 registered for the show proves there is a growing interest.

“The cabling industry is becoming more mature and open to new ideas. BICSI now is all about the power of the Internet, convergence, VoIP and security. It’s become part of the new technology.”

In terms of VoIP, John Dixon, Strategic Account Manager with SecureLogix Corp. in San Antonio, Tex., warned that security problems that exist in the TCP/IP and computing world, also exist in this world.

“What we have argued is that organizations are probably ill-served to go rapidly forward with a deployment until they have addressed and quantified their existing voice and security requirements,” he said.

According to the company, formed in 1998 by a group of data and voice security experts from the U.S. Air Force Information Warfare Centre and Ernst & Young, the emergence of VoIP technologies has increased the complexity of an already complicated telecommunications environment.

“As IP telephony becomes a “business critical application”, reaching a critical mass of adoption and maturity, it will inevitably become a favorite target for hackers who will inflict a level of damage and disruption of VoIP services more staggering than we can imagine today.

“Despite this imminent threat, all VoIP vendors have largely ignored an ever-increasing set of glaring security needs for VoIP networking products in their current rush to market.”

In terms of announcements, MRV unveiled a new line of Multi-Rate Dual Transponders designed for the optical infrastructure.

Described by the company as defining a new level of deployment flexibility and management, the transponders allow the use of a variety of different protocols and data-rate specific plug-in optics, which means a reduction in operating and inventory expenses.

According to MRV, pluggable technology ensures organizations that their optical infrastructure can support virtually any protocol, now or in the future.

Other product news included:

NORDX/CDT launching an LC version of its Optimax optical fiber field installable connector. It features a pre-radiused PC ceramic ferrule, which ensures contact with optical fibers and improves durability. The company also announced an upgrade to its GibaBIX product line (see p. 26);

Tyco Electronics introducing the AMP Netconnect Amptrac Mini-Analyzer, an intelligent infrastructure management system for remote branch offices. The analyzer provides 128-analyzer ports, which typically support a branch office. It also allows network administrators to track and document all moves, adds and changes to a network from a centralized location as they occur;

Leviton Voice & Data Division releasing its LabelWare to support the new TIA standard for appropriate identification of the telecommunications infrastructure. The system provides a means of identifying 110 wiring products, patch panels, wallplates, housings, ports and cables, and

FIber Connections Inc. of Schomberg, Ont. highlighting its 10 Gigabit EasyLAN Modular Cabling system. It comes pre-assembled with the choice of rack and/or wall mountable hardware. An optional pulling grip provides a greater degree of flexibility to the overall cable, while at the same time offering further protection to connectors during installation.

The Spring Conference will be held in Baltimore in May.

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