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September 23, 1999
Cisco's Prem Jain talks about the networks of the futureNeena Haridas at Pragati Maidan
He pointed out that "India is on the brink of a new economy; the Internet economy. This is the next economic wave and it is going to be driven totally by the customer, driven over networks that will be of bandwidths that we can only imagine."
Jain warned that "If India does not participate in this Internet revolution at Internet speed which in effect means completing in one year what would have previously taken seven years, then we will be left far behind."
Addressing a huge gathering at the IIW '99 on 'Networking for the new millennium', Jain said, "Because of the limited adoption of the Internet, we have only realised a fraction of the potential that it holds. Most of the exciting stuff that is happening over the Net is about business processes and the functioning of an electronic marketplace."
But, he reminded, "This is just the tip of the iceberg. Soon the Net will become the focal point of human collaboration, with communities of interest springing up all over. The Net has to become much more personalised, and in reality will function as an individual's personalised portal to the world. Fortunately, today we have the technology and the networks to achieve that."
Yet, the fact remains that less than 1 per cent of the population is connected.
Jain said "I see a clear potential of almost 10 per cent of India with access to the Internet. This is a technology that is being adopted at a faster rate than any other technology in history and we here in India have to change our basic business principles and attitudes to make it happen. Realising the full potential of the Internet requires ubiquity of the Internet."
He elaborated, "There are three essentials required to achieve Internet ubiquity: bandwidth and reach; convergence of voice, data and video and enhanced network intelligence. What this means in networking terms is that from now on, a network is not just about providing connectivity but it is all about bringing the user closer to the transaction."
Jain said that "The new world infrastructure, or if you prefer networking in the next millennium, will begin by being significantly different from networking as we know it today. The primary differentiators will be that in the new world infrastructure, traffic is going to be packet based, as opposed to circuit based; the architecture will be distributed as opposed to centralised and the standards are going to be open as opposed to the close standards that we can see today."
Jain elaborated, "This is also going to be supported by a convergence of business practices. All of this and the whole network (whether it is in terms of deployment or maintenance) will be driven by lower and lower costs. We all need to realise, accept and plan on the basic premise that all networks in the next millennium are going to be based on an IP protocol."
Jain explained that "Another revolutionary thing about networks for the future are that they are going to be planned and based around the fact that a significant portion of the world's population will be mobile, and will still require what they get sitting in front of their table at work. Networks will have to be intelligent enough to adapt to this because that is the only way that they will deliver value to their constituents."
"The answers," Jain believes, "lie in techniques and technologies such as caching, intelligent network management and scalability of networks. Network providers around the world will have to provide people with as much bandwidth as and when customers require it. Essentially a network will now have to be more user focused or more focused on individuals."
According to Jain there are six business principles for success in the Internet economy: "The first thing we need to realise is that the Internet is the competitive advantage. You will not be able to exist without it. Secondly, we have to move far beyond networks on a local scale. LANs are going to be limited because of the globalisation of businesses and resources. There have been other speakers who have mentioned how globalisation is going to affect other areas of business. Thirdly, you have to be customer driven. The fourth business principle is that you need to empower employees for success and that in itself has a lot of ramifications for networks. Fifthly, change is part of our culture and we need to realise that I don't see it changing in the near future. And lastly we need to move and act at an Internet pace (1 Internet year = 7 conventional years)."
Jain summed up that "This, in return, is going to require six attitudes that are required for the Internet Age. Firstly our efforts need to be focused on providing Internet access to everyone. Secondly the Internet is ushering in the age of open competition, both between companies as well as between countries. We need to change duties and tariffs that are associated with the Internet. Thirdly, our attitude in the Internet age should be one of lifelong learning. Fourthly, in the Internet Age, ideas will be free of borders. Fifthly the Internet Age is going to be an age of partnerships and cooperation, because it is only through these that we can effectively deal with competition. Lastly I think we all need to realise that in the Internet Age, it is business that leads, while it is the government that supports."
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