Is Network Everything?

do not agree with the concept ”network is the computer”. I
think the network is everything. Sample this: The sale of
networking products doubled in 1999-2000 compared to the
previous year to touch the Rs 1,500-crore mark!

A few years ago, while
attending a seminar on networking, the only thing I heard
speakers talk of was LAN. They talked about peer-to-peer
connectivity, printer sharing, Arcnet and Ethernet, and UTP
cabling. That was 1992.

The entire meaning of
networking has undergone a sea change since then. Today, we talk
of thin clients and Applications Service Providers (ASPs).
Business demands and powerful applications are necessitating the
need for networks that can handle huge amount of secure and
efficient information flow. Network is going well beyond
business needs. It will decide the future of education, health,
justice, law and order, and governance. It is much more than a
few computers connected to each other. If network is poised to
be such a big influence then are we gearing up to take advantage
of this emerging phenomenon?

A close look at all the
research that has gone into making our annual, Networking
Masters 2000
, reveals that while on one hand there is a lot
of networking happening in India, there are a lot of areas which
seem to have been ignored on the other. Bandwidth, for instance,
on which the fate of networking will depend, is far below the
desired level. The Government, which traditionally has been the
sole provider and controller of bandwidth is yet to wake up.
This is highly de-motivating not just for the users, but also
for investors who are eager to set up communications-enabled
services. According to the NASSCOM-McKinsey study, inadequate
bandwidth will result in a loss of $22.5 billion worth of export
revenues! It will lead to a loss of job opportunities for about
3,50,000 people.

It”s not just the
Government that is proving to be the stumbling block. The users
as well as the network integrators are also to be blamed. The
project management and network-planning skills of a large number
of these integrators are questionable. Project management is
very crucial to the right networking deployment and its
effective utilization. Further, the users get confused with a
range of networking products available and are not clear about
the intricacies of issues like network services and maintenance.
Plus, there is a total uncertainty about network security.

A recent TV advertisement that I saw
focussed on the importance of networking in all walks of life.
At the end the commercial a girl asks, “Are you
ready”? Not me, but I think people in the communications
and IT ministry, infotech industry, and more importantly, the
enterprises, need to answer this question.

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