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Amid convergence, Alcatel touts carrier-class networks

As voice, data, video and storage converge on IP networks, a principal technologist with Alcatel says enterprises will be pushed toward carrier-class infrastructures to ensure quality of service and high levels of bandwidth and redundancy.

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- According to a networking expert with Alcatel, the coming convergence of voice, data and video, as well as storage onto IP networks, will push businesses toward carrier-class infrastructure.

That's what Liz Hervatic, a principal technologist for the Paris-based communications infrastructure vendor, said this week at the company's seminar, Building Carrier-Class IP Networks for the Enterprise.

In order to support latency-sensitive voice applications and bandwidth-intensive video applications, enterprises need to think about carrier-class quality of service, as well as high levels of bandwidth and redundancy, Hervatic said.

Employees expect high quality and consistent availability of voice communications, and expect nothing less when those systems move to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP). Alcatel's OmniSwitch family of switches have failover rates that are fast enough to ensure that voice calls are not disrupted, even if a component fails, Hervatic said. And its 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches have true 10 Gigabit throughput, unlike others in the industry.

In the near future, Hervatic said, many business systems will move to Internet protocol-based applications that place more pressure on networks.

"If you are not looking at technology with Internet protocol inherent in it, you are making a huge mistake," she warned.

Many organizations are well on their way to this kind of network convergence, said Leonard Strong, a principal with IT Pathwork, a Laguna Hills, Calif., educational IT consulting firm and a former technical advisor to the Los Angeles Unified School District. Many of the schools he works with have already deployed voice and video over their networks, he said. The Los Angeles school district has deployed 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

Mike Lashley, an account manager with Compel, a Santa Fe Springs, Calif., technology services provider, said that his company has already deployed VoIP. He anticipates adding video over the network as well. With those elements and the growing need for storage, carrier-class infrastructure is likely to be part of his company's network planning.

But not everyone was sold on Hervatic's vision of the future and the expensive back end it will require.

"The concept is good, but this [is] real expensive," said Felix Baum, a field applications engineer with Wind River Systems Inc., an Alameda, Calif.-based software development company. These scenarios are good for large companies, Baum said, but not all companies will have the resources to make the leap.

And though Strong sees the education market moving toward enterprise-class network technology, he was not entirely satisfied with Alcatel's offerings. He said that there should be a middle ground between cheaper layer 2 switches and carrier-class devices. "There has got be an evolution," he said.


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