The reborn group officially got underway today with an inaugural meeting here that included the election of board members and the selection of a name, which has yet to be determined (IIC2? IICII?). Members characterized the meeting -- still going on at press time -- as the first step toward an ambitious industrywide effort to augment networks with the power to apply quality of service (QOS) and security to every application.
Members participating in today's meeting include:
- Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA)
- BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)
- China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE: CHU)
- Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)
- Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY)
- France Telecom SA (NYSE: FTE)
- Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)
- Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR)
- KT Corp., Level 3 Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLT)
- Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU)
- Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q)
- Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE)
- Telenor ASA (Nasdaq: TELN)
- Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA)
- Telstra Corp.
Cisco will get its wish, as the new organization will work under the rules of a standards body yet to be determined. Candidates so far are the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), and International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
"We've always been of the opinion that there's no reason to have another forum, to have work being done in a closed group. There are all kinds of standards bodies out there," says Jeff Spagnola, Cisco vice president of service provider marketing.
Spagnola called yesterday's announcement "an acknowledgement by Juniper that they can't really get anything done in Infranet without moving it to an open forum" and enlisting the help of fellow big-name vendors.
Juniper declined comment, in part because the company is trying to emphasize that the new group -- and the IIC before it -- aren't just "Juniper" projects.
The new developments probably don't spell the end for Cisco's IP Next-Generation Network (NGN) effort. While IP NGN sounds an awful lot like Infranet, Cisco officials claim the concepts are different in scope.
Several sources say BT pressured the IIC to change, insisting the project couldn't succeed without Alcatel and Cisco on board. BT officials, while not denying that story, aren't quick to take credit, saying it was carriers as a group that pushed for the move.
"I see it as a team effort rather than a catalystic effort," says Brian Levy, a group technology officer for BT.
The question now is whether the new initiative will bog down like... well, a standards body. A few analysts noted that big vendors -- Cisco in particular -- have a reputation for trying to stall any standards that aren't going their way. The process could face unintentional pauses, too, as Alcatel, Cisco, and Juniper try to reach compromise on issues affecting their products.
Levy isn't worried. "Once we begin to show people what they can do with this infrastructure, you will see engineers really start to get excited," he says. "If you can continue that momentum, you will not run into those problems." — Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading