KAAEP on converging

Avaya might have scored big at the World Cup, but the true measure of the maturity of converged networks may well be their acceptance in the conservative Middle East. Either way, dual and triple play are here, and network managers must raise their game to use converged networks effectively.

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By  Eliot Beer Published  July 10, 2006

|~||~||~|As you read this, people around the globe will be waking up – rather unwillingly, in some cases – after what is in theory the most exciting evening in football. Whichever worthy team walked away with the World Cup Trophy last night (deadlines, and the lack of a crystal ball, preclude our knowing at the time of writing), millions of fans will have experienced drama, passion, and the thrill of watching at least 12 grown men cry. But while this World Cup has undoubtedly been thrilling and dramatic, a quieter drama has been unfolding behind the scenes, and indeed under the seats of the thousands of supporters in Germany. One of the main sponsors of the event has been Avaya, and it has been banging on at anyone who will listen about the converged network which has wired the World Cup up across Germany. The scale of the operation is, in fairness, pretty impressive: 12 stadia, 70 locations in total, 45,000 network connections, 15 terabytes of data flowing across the network. What does this signal for converged networks? Well, the mere fact of Avaya’s sponsorship of the event shows the degree to which this relatively new technology has quickly become mainstream, although quite how many of the fans in Germany would have been able to say exactly what Avaya does will forever remain a mystery. But more fundamentally, the absence of any reported problems with the World Cup network – strained by thousands of journalists, photographers and supporters using voice and data services – will perhaps serve as a demonstration that converged technology has not only been accepted, but has also come of age. Perhaps the best example of how far it has come in such a short time is here in the normally technologically-conservative Middle East. Projects such as the King Abdul Aziz Endowment Project (KAAEP) in Saudi Arabia are building in converged triple-play networks from the start of construction. 10Gbit/s fibre backbones, with Cat6 Ethernet to each unit will allow KAAEP to deliver data, voice and video services to its tenants. Spare physical capacity will also allow it to deploy additional infrastructure in the future, to cope with any additional bandwidth requirements. While mega-projects like KAAEP will obviously grab the headlines, increasing numbers of new developments around the region are thinking of converged services from the first fix. This extends just as much to enterprises, which are finding fewer and fewer reasons to go for diverged communications systems. This is good news for network professionals, as demand for qualified operators and managers will mushroom. But, like the footballers from around the world who converged on Germany this summer, network managers will find themselves in a different league, and will have to raise their game. Keeping converged networks functioning at peak capacity is no easy feat. While users might put up with access to the server going down for half an hour, they will undoubtedly be much less understanding if it’s their phones – or their televisions.||**||

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