Optical/IP Networks

Microsoft Goes Off Message

NEW YORK--To date, Microsoft Corp. http://www.microsoft.com hasn’t said much about optical networking. But in a recent interview with Light Reading it finally took a position on what it means to the company. The answer?

Not much.

“Optical networking is just more bandwidth. It shows that Moore’s law also applies for networking speeds,” says Thomas Koll, vice president of the Microsoft network solutions group.

That dismissive philosophy runs contrary to the new thinking in networking, which has it that optical networking will do more than simply delivering big bandwidth.

By reducing latency and increasing throughput many believe optical networking will herald a new age of networking, in which end users use low-cost terminals to access applications that are housed remotely on application service providers (ASPs) networks. It makes sense. While ASPs like Corio Inc. http://www.corio.com, EDS Network Computing Services Corp. http://www.eds.com, and Portera Systems Inc. http://www.portera.com have been making in-roads, their services haven't yet achieved widespread appeal. That’s because they’ve been gated by the amount of bandwidth available between the user and the server.

Now that could change. "I do think that we will get to the point where optical networks make the location of the application from the user genuinely irrelevant," says James O'Donnell, vice-provost, information systems and computing, University of Pennsylvania.

O’Donnell thinks optical networks will galvanize the whole application service provider (ASP) market. Analysts agree. International Data Corp. http://www.idc.com is predicting that ASP revenues will grow from $889 million in 1998 to $22.4 billion in 2003.

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