Cloud Computing Defined

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“The concept of outsourcing hardware, software and file storage to service providers on the Internet” is how Forrester Research defines Cloud Computing.

Many have pointed out the philosophical similarities between Cloud Computing and the days prior to broad adoption of the personal computer.

  • Application hosting, data processing and storage were centralized on mainframe computer platforms.
  • The user community accessed these resources through a standards-based (albeit proprietary) communications network infrastructure.
  • The computing power of the user terminal was limited relative to the mainframe (admittedly, a huge understatement).

That’s pretty much where the similarities end. We now live in a world with near ubiquitous access to the Internet using it’s suite of standardized protocols under TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol). Over and above the communications advantages, the Internet itself is now home to an infinite array of resources. Equally significant is the parallel evolution (arguably revolution) of end user devices. Unlike the monochromatic glow of yesterday’s text based dumb terminal, today’s world offers an incomparable variety of feature-rich, graphically based end user devices supported by numerous operating systems – all with their own attributes. Add to that the wireless revolution with its mobilization of the Internet and one would be hard pressed to draw further parallels.

Cloud computing is compelling for a number of good reasons:

  • Hardware, application software (including updates) and system security are administered by the host.
  • Many cloud computing environments support rich multiparty collaboration.
  • Barriers to entry are comparatively low and affordable.
  • User device agnostic: supports any device equipped with a standards compliant browser.
  • CPU power of end user equipment is very low.
  • Very little RAM is required in end user equipment.
  • Virtually no local storage requirements beyond operation system and web browser. User file storage is hosted in the cloud as opposed to on a local disk drive or file server.
  • Power hungry and comparatively slow hard disk drives are being replaced with fast, solid state storage in Cloud Computing user devices. Instant booting, and much longer battery life are two of the most apparent benefits.
  • Portabilty, Mobility, Ubiquity: Cloud resources are available anywhere there is internet access.
  • Generally very low network bandwidth required by the end user.

Dedicated Cloud Platforms

One of the more intriguing Cloud Computing developments has been the emergence of Google’sChrome O/S. Chrome O/S devices will have all the hardware attributes listed above, but in the spirit of a complete Cloud Computing experience, Chrome O/S is, as the name implies, is an Operating System hard coded into the hardware. Alone, a Chrome O/S product is of limited utility. Add a connection to the Internet – even a relatively slow one – and the user instantly has access to all those applications, not to mention the web via the integrated Chrome browser.

Initial reviews of Chrome O/S have been mixed. Regardless, no one can argue that from a conceptual perspective, Chrome O/S is a very compelling solution for many user categories, students for example. Chrome O/S takes the netbook/sub-notebook category to a new level. The video below from Epipheo Studios succinctly describes the thinking behind the development of Chrome O/S.

Rumours abound that Google will merge Chrome O/S’ functionality into its very popular and broadly available Android mobile operating system. Time will tell… In the meantime, Microsoft has leveraged their strong position in feature-rich desktop applications. By integrating Office 2010 desktop with Microsoft’s cloud environment known as Office Web Apps, users can enjoy document sharing and collaboration, regardless of location, even when a connection to the Internet is temporarily out of reach. Once reconnected to the Internet, sophisticated synchronization automatically reconciles any updated content.

Backhaul Solutions for Backhaul’s Sake

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Today, operators in many parts of the world are supporting multi-generation wireless networks. As deployment of next generation network access technologies gain momentum, many operators will endure a transition period where legacy services based in the time domain will need to coexist with pure IP oriented packet data services.

With this in mind, network backhaul planning and design have become much more strategic than in the recent past. So much so that three out of four mobile operators are choosing backhaul network solutions independent of other network infrastructure.

This brief video with Heavy Reading’s Patrick Donegan and Shailesh Shukla of Cisco, speaks to the trend and provides insight into the countless benefits of evaluating backhaul solutions based on their own merits. The conversation is particularly germane as network operators continue the move towards fixed-mobile convergence.

WireIE’s Carrier Grade Network Extension solutions use the latest in Ethernet Radio technology. The solution’s inherent support for IP traffic is augmented by an array of configurable options in support of legacy TDM requirements.

Maintaining Profitability on the Path to 4G

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By George Kaichis

Looking for ways to maintain profitability as an operator on your way to 4G/LTE? WireIE’s George Kaichis (Director, Radio Network Services) has some tips to help your company get there.

In order to meet the projected spike in demand and quality of data services, operators will ultimately need to migrate their networks and businesses to 4G/LTE. However, WireIE recognizes that most operators will not have the capital available to upgrade their networks and therefore suggest the following to ease the transition for operators:

  • Outsource non-core activities, particularly around the deployment and operation of your networks
  • Deploy a hosted 3G network
  • Sell operator-owned towers to tower companies and lease back space for your equipment
  • Sell microwave assets to wholesale backhaul providers and lease them back
  • Preserve roaming revenue through RF Optimization, site audits and KPI monitoring in order to maximize network capacity and performance

George recently wrote an article that was published in Cancion Magazine, a quarterly journal issued by CANTO (The Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organizations). The article expands upon these different measures that we believe will help operators handle the ever increasing consumer demand for higher speed data services while also maintaining profitability.

WireIE Comments on Canadian Government’s Digital Economy Strategy

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WireIE President & CEO Rob Barlow today formally commented to the federal government on it’s consultation entitled: “Improving Canada’s Digital Advantage, Strategies for Sustainable Prosperity.”

Removing Broadband Deployment Obstacles in Rural Canada

I appreciate the opportunity to share my views in response to the Government of Canada’s Consultation Paper on a Digital Economy Strategy.

As President & CEO of a Canadian based global broadband wireless company, I am keenly aware of the benefits modernized ICT infrastructure bring to an economy. Economic and social development varies from one economy to another, but in every case, significant, measurable increases in GDP are realized when access to broadband is made universal.

Much of my company’s work is in the developing world where access to broadband is extremely limited if available at all. By providing universal broadband access to education, health, industry, business and individual citizens, societies have been transformed in very dramatic ways. Creative minds are unleashed and given access to develop new products and services, not only for their local economy, but often for the world at large.

As a proud Canadian, I am profoundly disappointed that rural Canada is now lagging behind much of the developing world in terms of broadband access. Recognizing the enormity of our nation’s geography, along with the reality that we are one of the most urbanized countries on the planet, it is somewhat understandable that little attention has been paid to rural broadband access up to this point.

A look at the devil in the details reveals further concerns. For example, there is no clear, consistent delineation between urban and rural broadband service offerings. My office, for example, is located in the “technology centre” of York Region, mere kilometers from the City of Toronto boundary. Within five kilometers of my office, broadband service availability becomes very sporadic, even nonexistent in certain peripheral areas. Many businesses and residences encircling our country’s largest city have no access to broadband.

The Government’s digital economy initiative is a vital element in Canada reclaiming it’s prominence as a global telecommunications leader. The government’s paper on the matter does a good job of capturing the challenges, along with the necessity to address them. With that in mind, I offer the following comments.

I believe serious consideration should be given to defining broadband access as an essential service – much in the way access to electricity and traditional telephony services have been regarded for several decades now. I say this fully recognizing that political and economic realities of today are very different from the days when universal telephone service was being deployed in rural Canada.

It is my belief that one of the reasons our country has fallen so far behind is due to the lack of genuine competition in the telecommunications sector. With that in mind, and factoring in the significant capital infusion required to provide such universality, a structure based on private / public partnerships should be seriously considered.

I also recognize that our deregulated, competitive telecommunications environment necessitates that capital is allocated for broadband expansion based on Return on Investment per project. Understandably, areas with low population densities produce poor and very often negative ROIs.

The digital economy, however, is a broad, complex, multilayered concept as the Government’s paper describes so well. While the delivery systems (i.e.: telecommunications infrastructure) may yield poor or negative ROIs in many areas of the country, the creation of content, new products and services as a result of universal broadband have the potential to generate enormous wealth in the longer term. Put another way, universal broadband provides a consistent foundation from which immeasurable wealth can be generated over and above network operator revenue. This modernized infrastructure has the added benefit of providing remote and rural government offices and facilities with broadband, allowing for operational cost reductions, along with greater opportunity to offer services in more areas at a consistent level of quality and overall user experience.

A likely reciprocal result of this creation of wealth would be made-in-Canada innovation in the telecommunications sector itself. Our once global reputation as an innovator in telecommunications would be reestablished, but this time it would be substantially reinforced by services afforded by universal broadband access to the Internet and World Wide Web.

Realizing the longer term return on such a scenario, it is essential to incent telecommunications providers to expand where shorter-term ROIs are unattractive – even when augmented by public funds. Tax breaks are an obvious option but other incentive-oriented mechanisms should also be explored. For example, an easing, or where practical, elimination of radio frequency license fees in rural areas would aid in the provision of both broadband backhaul and access. Another deterrent for network operators in rural areas – both from a cost and logistical perspective – relates to inflexibility in accessing rights-of-way. Rigidity around collocation of multi-operator telecommunications facilities is another impediment. I believe that by clearing these obstacles, significant progress can be made in delivering universal broadband in rural Canada.

We deservingly pride ourselves on being a well educated society. Creation of wealth and the sharing of knowledge need not be confined to parts of our country where broadband is available. Our rural areas are bursting with clever, creative, educated people driven by an entrepreneurial spirit. Other rural residents long to learn and have access to the same infinitely rich resources enjoyed by their urban counterparts who take broadband access for granted.

I thank you for considering my comments on this extremely important matter and look forward to a bright future where every Canadian has the choice to participate in the Digital Economy.

Robert Barlow

President & CEO

WireIE Holdings International Inc.

Broadband Wireless Takes on Legacy Broadband

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As experts in next generation networks, WireIE has been a strong promoter of WiMAX from the start.  As the impact of Clearwire’s WiMAX network roll-out takes hold, trends in customer behavior are beginning to emerge.

In this article by Marguerite Reardon, the question is asked, “Can 4G wireless take on traditional broadband?”  WireIE believes the answer for many users is “yes”.