Networking Standards Prove Worth

By Eric Lundquist  |  Posted 2002-04-22 Print this article Print

The interoperability layer has most definitely shifted.

The upcoming Networld+Interop Show in Las Vegas was once all about trying to make disparate networking standards communicate. During the show, you could always walk by the network operations center to see engineers and network designers pounding away trying to make diverse islands of communication talk to one another.

Those engineers were usually successful but only after huge amounts of coffee, sleepless nights and workarounds that could never be duplicated in the IT center back home. In the process, those attendees helped create the standards that today make it easy to send an e-mail to anyone, anywhere; to view Web pages on anything from a desktop to a cell phone; and, unfortunately, to send a virus around the world with a few mouse clicks.

As the new products being displayed at this N+I show and the articles in this weeks eWeek discuss, the interoperability layer has most definitely shifted to the application layer in IT. While there remains a lot of work to do in machine-to-machine communication, the features of Internet-based communication are well-established. Many of the products and services being introduced are at least the second generation of products that were once revolutionary and are now seen as simply part of the computer and communications evolution. While not as glitzy as the first-time releases, these products have the decided advantage of actually being useful.

One case in point is Anne Chens article, "Web Directories Dial In". While the promise of the UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration) specification remains largely still a promise on the larger business-to-business scale, private registries based on the standard are blossoming. An accompanying review by West Coast Technical Director Tim Dyck ("Directories Ready for Testing") looks at UDDI directories from Systinet and IBM for those IT developers thinking about starting on the UDDI pathway. Perhaps the most important release related to UDDI is UDDI 2.0 itself.

Also getting a second look is the communications medium of broadband satellite data networks. At one time, satellites were seen as the communications network that would wipe out terrestrial-based systems. This competition, in part, helped touch off a network build-out race that is still crippling an oversupplied, underutilized networking industry. But as in so many cases in the technology industry over the past several years, while the business plans were absurd, the technologies were solid. Today, as this weeks article titled "Satellites Hit New Orbit" states, companies interested in quickly deploying far-flung, secure networks are taking a serious look at satellites once again.

Whats your take on interoperability and networking standards? Let me know at

Since 1996, Eric Lundquist has been Editor in Chief of eWEEK, which includes domestic, international and online editions. As eWEEK's EIC, Lundquist oversees a staff of nearly 40 editors, reporters and Labs analysts covering product, services and companies in the high-technology community. He is a frequent speaker at industry gatherings and user events and sits on numerous advisory boards. Eric writes the popular weekly column, 'Up Front,' and he is a confidant of eWEEK's Spencer F. Katt gossip columnist.

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