WITH ALL the new infrastructure developments in SA, companies will need to upgrade their existing networks. But how does a company keep up with the times without making an inordinately large investment? Frank Mullen, chief operating officer at Itec Enterprise Solutions, explains that many companies have invested a lot of money in old TDM (time-division multiplexing) technology, and need to transition slowly.
"Large organisations have reasonably large investments in the technology, so to implement a new tech in a big bang approach or a one-phased approach is not feasible for them. The new technology allows them to take advantage of new features and benefits available, but they are co-existing with the old technology. In other words, they don't have to replace the entire infrastructure to gain the benefit of what the new technology offers. Rather, they can migrate as and when it's required," says Mullen.
Although it's not cheap to migrate, it is often necessary, says Mullen. "People would generally adopt [migration] if there's a gain in productivity or a cost reduction, and it enables them to deliver a better service. If you can match that with implementing new technology, then generally you can justify the cost or the investment in the technology to achieve one of those objectives. You can save on costs by using new technology... you're not going to just implement the technology for the sake of technology."
Not just the hardware will change, explains Mullen. With a new infrastructure, IP will be the method of communication of choice, and organisations need the software to enable that, such as softphones on PCs or LAN software. "The LAN switch software would have to be layer 3 or layer 4, where it's got far more intelligence to give you more power and ability to shape how you route traffic across your network."
THE URGE TO CONVERGE
According to Andy Brauer, CTO of Business Connexion, the wireless and mobile technologies are moving toward a common modulation and antenna system in the form of OFDM (orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing) and MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output). This move is based on standards put forward by the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers, and happened because of frequency interference between the different forms of connectivity, such as Bluetooth and WiMax.
"To get around these frequency problems they've been working on something which they call cognitive radio." Cognitive radio would assess if the frequency is too congested and automatically move a person's communication session to an emptier channel or frequency. "This hasn't happened automatically in the past, because some of the standards weren't there... Now you'll see the new WiFi technology is based on the OFDM, the WiMax is based on the OFDM, and you'll often see the new 4G mobile phones are HSOPA [the O stands for OFDM]. There is an indication that OFDM is the common modulation between all these media." But a standard modulation is not the only thing necessary to gain this benefit, the device itself needs an intelligent antenna to take advantage of this. "The combination of clever antennae and clever modulation techniques is the evolution of where we're really moving towards," says Brauer.
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