StratVantage – The News – 02/04/02

The Next Internet?

The Internet started out life as a way for major universities and government research centers to communicate and collaborate. Imagine the mixed feelings with which researchers viewed the tremendous explosion of the Internet since it was commercialized, after 25 years of relatively slow growth, in 1994.

On the one hand, there is now more information available on the Internet than anyone thought possible back when the first four Internet nodes went live (UCLA, Stanford Research Institute (SRI), University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), University of Utah).

On the other hand, the commercial Internet is so busy and growing so rapidly, it’s hard for researchers to get the bandwidth they need for really large projects.

Today’s Internet doesn’t:

  • Provide reliable end-to-end performance
  • Encourage cooperation on new capabilities
  • Allow testing of new technologies
  • Support development of revolutionary applications

The Internet was not designed for the congestion caused by millions of users. It wasn’t designed for multimedia or even for real time interaction. Yet these are the characteristics of today’s Internet.

Faced with these limitations to innovation, Internet2 was formed in 1996 as a consortium led by universities working in partnership with industry and government to develop and deploy advanced network applications and technologies.

The consortium’s mission is to develop and deploy advanced network applications and technologies, accelerating the creation of tomorrow’s Internet. Each university pays $500,000 to $1 million or more a year to gain access to Internet2 and upgrade its campus network.

At a recent seminar sponsored by the University of Minnesota Management Information Systems Research Center, Myron Lowe of the University of Minnesota’s Office of Information Technology described the Internet2 effort and some of the applications being developed using it. According to Lowe, there are now 187 member universities, 70 member corporations, and 28 GigaPoPs (high speed access points) on Internet2. The backbone network, dubbed Abilene, is a 2.5Gbps backbone covering more than 10,000 miles coast to coast.

One of the important uses of Internet2 is videoconferencing, with several major telepresence initiatives taking advantage of the new network’s bandwidth. One such effort is the Access Grid, which has 81 nodes. The Access Grid supports large-scale distributed meetings, collaborative work sessions, seminars, lectures, tutorials and training and focuses on group-to-group communication rather than individual communication.

Another effort is the Virtual Rooms Videoconferencing System (VRVS), a project of CalTech and the CERN Lab in Switzerland (which gave us the World Wide Web). VRVS provides a worldwide videoconferencing service and collaborative environment to the research and education communities over Internet2. The system includes more than 6,150 registered hosts in more than 50 different countries and hosts an average of 190 multipoint videoconference and collaborative sessions worldwide each month.

A related Internet2 application is tele-immersion, being developed by the National Tele-immersion Initiative(NTII). This effort, led by VR pioneer Jaron Lanier, aims to enable users at geographically distributed sites to collaborate in real time in a shared, simulated environment as if they were in the same physical room.

Rather than transmitting live images of participants, the technology creates a new environment for participants to interact in. In a tele-immersive environment computers recognize the presence and movements of individuals and objects, track those individuals and images, and then project them in realistic, immersive environments. This allows participants to interact with nonexistent objects, like simulations or models.

Other applications include tele-operation of an electron microscope, real-time 3D brain mapping, interactive courseware by North Dakota State’s WWW Instructional Committee, and the Visible Human, a three-dimensional, computer-generated cybernetic body, that can be viewed from any angle, dissected and reassembled by anatomy students, or used as a model to study the growth of cancer cells. Astronomers can also control the famous telescopes on the top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii from their desktops.

What’s in store for the Internet2? First of all, more bandwidth. Lowe said the Abilene backbone will be upgraded to 10 gigabits/second and employ new multiple wavelength capabilities by next year. Also in store is competition. European researchers were recently given access to GÉANT, a gigabit research network serving more than 3,000 European academic and research institutions that will eventually operate in 32 countries.But will the masses ever be let on to Internet2, inevitably forcing the researchers to build Internet3? Not necessarily. The Internet2 is based on the same high speed fiberoptic circuits available to anybody. It’s the technology that runs it that’s important. Thus, it’s likely that, rather than giving Internet users physical access to Internet2, the consortium will migrate the new technologies developed on Internet2 onto the existing Internet. Among these technologies is Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), which will be the subject of a future SNS.

For now, Lowe said, one of the true pleasures of Internet2 is no pop-up ads. I doubt that researchers would ever give that up.
New York Times (registration required)

Briefly Noted

  • Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.: StratVantage has launched a new service, CTOMentor™, designed to allow Chief Technology Officers and other technical leaders to get rid of the Guilt Stack, that pile of magazines you’ll get around to reading someday.CTOMentor is a subscription advisory service tailored to customers’ industry and personal information needs. Four times a year CTOMentor provides a four-hour briefing for subscribers and their staffs on the most important emerging technology trends that could affect their businesses. As part of the service, subscribers also get a weekly email newsletter, Just the Right Stuff™, containing links to the Top 10 Must Read articles needed to stay current. These and other CTOMentor services will let you Your Inbox™.

    As part of its launch, CTOMentor is offering a two-part white paper on peer-to-peer technology: Peer-to-Peer Computing and Business Networks: More Than Meets the Ear. Part 1, What is P2P?, is available for free on the CTOMentor Web site. Part 2, How Are Businesses Using P2P?, is available for $50.

  • SSPs Bite the Dust: IDC recently published an analysis of the Storage Service Provider marketplace, which has had a rash of company failures. Does this mean the “storage on demand” idea of locating your storage on someone else’s machines on the other end of a network wasn’t viable? As a standalone business model, it may not be. But IDC states that “the original SSP model now is being adopted by the likes of IBM Global Services, EDS, BellSouth, Qwest, AT&T, and other outsourcing and telecommunications firms.”By combining SSP services with a larger package of services such as Web hosting and telephone services, these firms stand a good chance of wringing some profit out of the concept, according to IDC. IDC has historically been quite bullish on the SSP idea, but is now revising their original February 2001 SSP forecast downward from $10 billion worldwide through 2005. Nonetheless, IDC projects nearly 50% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for 2001 through 2006 for the total managed storage services market, which includes storage managed on a customer’s own site.

    The company doesn’t say why we should believe this estimate, when the one from a year ago was so inaccurate.

  • European 3G Operator Relief: Much has been made of the lead European countries enjoy in the penetration and use of wireless technology. But European wireless operators have faced a crisis of their own making. When various European governments held auctions for wireless bandwidth for development of 3G (Third Generation) wireless services, wireless operators bid the prices into the stratosphere. This saddled many operators with billions of euros of debt or investment, and as a result has hampered their ability to actually develop 3G services (which include high speed data access, location-based services, and eventually, wireless video). To date, only one small trial 3G network, on the UK’s Isle of Man, has gone operational, serving only 200 devices.So the second-most advanced wireless region (after Japan) is virtually dead in the water. Recently, European regulators have eased license fees and taxes to try to get the industry moving again. France has drastically reduced the license fees and changed future payments to a performance-based royalty scheme. Spain has cut their radio spectrum tax, and the Italian government is considering extending the country’s five 3G licenses from 15 to 20 years.Japanese wireless innovator,DoCoMo, is experiencing itsown problems. The company’s sales target is 150,000 3G users by March, but it only sold 11,000 3G handsets in October, when its 3G service, FOMA, went live with regional coverage. DoCoMo launched a popular trial video service, imotion, in November that will run through March. But just a week into the trial, the company had to recall 1,500 NEC N2002 handsets due to a software problem. The glitch destroyed users’ e-mails, content based on Java, call records and some of the handset’s personalized settings.

    The imotion service offers three types of multimedia files for download: full-motion videos, such as sports clips and trailers; slide shows of still pictures; and pure audio. DoCoMo has signed 28 content providers including Sony Music and Fuji TV. However, the FOMA revenue hasn’t met expectations as customers are still using their old cell phones to make voice calls less expensively. DoCoMo has also launched a Location-Based Service (LBS) called DLP, and has moved to license its technology in the Netherlands and Belgium.
    Third Generation Bulletin, December 2001, volume 3, issue 12

  • New Top Level Domains Go Live: Four of the seven new gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains) have gone live since September. Here’s a table of the “Go live dates” for the new global domains:
    TLD Go live date
    .info September 23, 2001
    November 7, 2001
    .name January 15, 2002
    .coop January 30, 2002
    .museum Demonstration: November 14, 2001
    Full Operations: mid-July, 2002
    .aero not clear
    (Stage 1 registration March-Apr 2002)
    ICANN agreement not yet complete

    Both .info and .name registrars claim they had 500,000 names registered about one month after going live. Hardly a land rush.

  • Office XP Hates ZoneAlarm: Alert SNS Reader Jeff Ellsworth sends along this complaint: Why would Microsoft release an Office XP Service Pack with a known conflict with a popular personal firewall? I don’t have an answer for him, and neither do Microsoft or ZoneLabs, maker of the ZoneAlarm firewall. Seems that if you don’t totally uninstall ZoneAlarm before applying the Office XP Service Pack, you won’t be able to access the Internet afterwards.Microsoft points users to ZoneLabs, and ZoneLabs, well, they’re kind of silent on the issue. Jeff tried their tech support, which, for free users, only accepts emails and says they’ll get back to you within five days. He tried upgrading to ZoneAlarm Pro, which gets you an answer in one to two days. Finally, after trolling the newsgroups, he found the instructions on really uninstalling ZoneAlarm, which turned out to be on the ZoneAlarm site as part of a resolution to conflicts with a Windows XP install.

    ZoneLabs’ uninstall program doesn’t really, totally, absolutely uninstall ZoneAlarm. You have to muck about in the registry and also search your disk for possible orphan files. Add to this the fact that, if you use Microsoft’s install off the Net option for the service pack, your computer is unprotected while you download and install the service pack. Unfortunately, this kind of issue is typical. Doesn’t anyone care about the poor user?


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