At the recent Windows World and Enterprise Computing Solutions Conference and Exposition, held on July 25-28, 1995 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, there was a much greater emphasis on communications and the Internet that I have ever seen at any other similar event.
There were a tremendous number of seminars involving all facets of communications and multimedia. Here is a glimpse of some of the seminar topics and titles.
Internet (How will you do Business on the Internet?, Integrating your Network and the Internet, Developing a strategy for Internet security and Distributing Information via Local Area Corporate Webs)
Multimedia (Networked Multimedia for training)
Windows (Can Windows NT compete with NetWare 4.1?, Introduction to Programming Windows 95, Introduction to Windows NT, Windows NT Internals, Network Management with Windows 95, Integrating Windows 95, Deploying Windows 95, Supporting Windows 95 and Mobile Windows 95)
Client/Server and distributed processing (Many of the other seminars involved topics such as UNIX, SNA, AS/400, Data Warehousing, LAN, wireless computing and RAID (no - not the bug-killer variety, but Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) )
James G. Cosgrove, Vice President and General Manager of AT&T's Business Multimedia Services (BMS) gave his (and AT&T's) vision of the future at the Enterprise keynote address on July 26th, 1995. This was held in conjunction with the inauguration of AT&T's WorldWorx multipoint voice, video and data service, which allows people to collaborate with each other by voice and vision along with being able to simultaneously and interactively use computer information.
Mr. Cosgrove sees the PC in the year 2000 as a 1000 MIPS (million instructions/second) machine with 128 megabytes of RAM and 5,000 megabytes of hard drive capacity. It would have a built-in camera, multimedia operating system along with the chips to handle "video processing, speech recognition and broadband communications". These machines will be interconnected to huge evolving networks. (Of course his vision would include this - he is from AT&T one of the communication network leaders of today - He summarizes this thought as "The network will become the computer, just as the network will become the business")
Using improved communication methods both inside and outside of the organization gives various industries the ability to add value and differentiate their products. He gave examples such as:
Reducing time to market - Chrysler went from a 5 year development cycle to a 2 year cycle.
Improved information linkage - Federal Express "Super Tracker" scanner system.
Intercompany product development - Boeing worked with its customers (airlines) to develop the world's first paperless airplane engineered and designed totally on a computer and computer network. The first "model" they built flew with people in it.
Using these private networks aren't the complete answer as managing these private corporate networks are growing in cost (currently $345 billion per year for salaries alone) at about 20 percent per year. The cost of the Client/Server architecture used on these networks cost 50 to 300 percent more than a mainframe network. Since we aren't going back to the old days of mainframes and character based terminals, the solution is to combine these private networks with public networks -- and achieve better reliability and economies of scale. (It's AT&T to the rescue!)
AT&T is building a network that by 1997 is expected to include "more than 50 double-interconnected SONET rings with ATM at the crossover points to create an ring and mesh architecture for data services". It will be capable of transmitting 20 billion bits per second -- enough to transmit the entire Encyclopedia Britannica in a tenth of a second or with some compression, transmit 1,250 network quality TV shows at once!
When most people think of large public networks they think of the Internet due to its size (30,000 interconnected networks) and growth (double digits monthly with a predicted billion users by the end of the century). Due to the current problems with the physical Internet (holdup times, poor navigation, reliability and security), AT&T and others are building other networks to access the Internet and each other in which a packet of information travels more directly from one access provider to another, without ever traveling the Internet backbone.
It is AT&T's vision to make the Internet as easy to use as long distance is today. He gave the analogy that the Internet of today is "like being in the Library of Congress ... with all the books jumbled on the floor and the lights out".
It will be interesting to see how electronic collaboration through these improved networks will revolutionize the way we work, live and play together.
© 1995 Rick Smith All rights reserved.