C²I² Press Release
Developments in the high speed LAN arena are causing many a network manager to suffer from Obsolescophobia – fear of implementing a technology in case something even better comes along.
That’s the view of Richard Young, Managing Director of C²I² Systems, a pre-eminent Cape Town-based systems integration and networking company.
Young says the emergence of a whole array of high speed LAN alternatives, coupled to predictions that one will eventually emerge as the victor, is causing some network managers to be excessively concerned about technical obsolescence.
"Rather than implement a solution that meets their needs today, they are waiting for the ‘killer’ technology to come along. They’re expecting an action-replay of the VHS vs. Betamax battle, with asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) emerging as the champion.
"The fatal flaw of this argument is that every market is transient and there is never a conclusive solution. Thus network managers who choose to wait for something better to come along will literally wait forever.
"Clearly, one cannot run a business in this manner. But on the other hand one shouldn’t minimise the problems of choosing the right high speed LAN either. After all, the stakes are high and the cost of a mistake can be exorbitant."
C²I² Systems’ advice is to view the multitude of alternatives as a boon, not a burden, and recognise that each technology provides answers to specific network problems. 100-Megabit Ethernet, switched Ethernet, Fibre Distributed Data Interface (FDDI) – these and other technologies could all be used to solve particular business problems today.
Furthermore it’s far to early to say whether ATM will replace the current systems. Biding time while ATM emerges as the ‘ultimate solution’ is, therefore, a risky strategy to say the least.
Young concludes by offering a few points to consider when sorting through the high speed LAN alternatives: · Identify users’ current networking needs and anticipate future requirements. Don’t make the error of underestimate growth of demand for connectivity in your organisation; · Recognise that there is an inverse relationship between the performance gained by implementing high speed technologies and the stability of the standards that underpin them. ATM is a case in point, as it offers the highest performance of the top-end alternatives yet is the furthest from being standardised; · Focus on answering the key question: which of the competing technologies delivers the best price-performance for your specific network needs? Remember that different systems will perform differently in your environment. Don’t take anyone’s word but your own when it comes to price-performance comparisons; · Bear in mind that actual throughput will probably likely be lower than the published standard implies, especially as your network becomes more and more saturated; · Make sure your infrastructure as a whole is up to speed before you invest in new generation LAN technology. There’s no point spending money when your system is full of bottlenecks; · Choose good, high performance cabling that will meet both your short and longer term requirements. Given the high number of network errors that result from cabling problems, this is money well spent.