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WireIE Riding a Wave of Success – JSA TV Spotlight at PTC’18

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CEO Rob Barlow Shares Direction for 2018 with Jaymie Scotto Cutaia

At PTC’18, one of the most important telecommunications events for the Pacific Rim, our CEO, Rob Barlow, met up with JSA TV’s Jaymie Scotto Cutaia to discuss the company’s latest developments and where it is headed for the rest of 2018.

Overall, throughout 2017, WireIE experienced continuous growth providing leading-class high-speed network solutions in underserved markets in Canada and around the world. We bolstered our reputation as an expert in underserved connectivity by consistently exceeding our network performance and reliability objectives throughout the year.

For 2018, we are maintaining our focus on making it possible for individuals and enterprises in underserved areas to take full advantage of the digital economy. By using both fiber and microwave technologies in the delivery of high-availability networks, we are a partner of choice for industry and governments in need of reliable, secure connectivity for their mission-critical applications. WireIE prides itself on its ability to extend carrier networks to remote and hard to reach locations, bringing the metropolitan broadband experience to the underserved and promoting regional economic development.

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Cloud Computing & The Network Operator

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With the broad adoption of personal computing, we have witnessed more than a quarter of a century of staggering incremental improvement in data processing power. These benefits have not only touched the traditional desktop. Smaller form factors such as laptops, netbooks, and now tablets and smart phones, are reaping the benefits of ever increasing clock speeds complimented by multiple core processors. In parallel, memory has become faster and cheaper.

A case in point is Apple’s iPad. Launched a year ago, the original iPad had a 1 GHz single core processor. A mere year later, Apple last week announced iPad 2 which boasts a dual core processor along with a nine fold increase in graphics processing capability. All of this at the same price yet in a form factor 1/3 thinner than its still novel predecessor. And a year later, Apple no longer owns the entire tablet market. Familiar names such as HPLGMotorolaRIMand Samsung are offering tablets with impressive specifications — all supported by powerful dual core processors.

The increase in processing speed, memory capacity and other performance related specifications align with Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore’s law which essentially asserts that processing and memory performance improves exponentially per unit cost over the course of roughly one year. In addition, while battery technology is comparatively slow in its evolution, we’ve seen enormous improvements in power efficiency in microprocessors and RAM – allowing for device portability. Deloitte predicts that smart phones and tablets will outsell all other computer categories combined in 2011. Device portability is now an expectation of the consumer, and increasingly the enterprise as well.

With all this horsepower in the hands of the user, why is cloud computing so compelling? While the three previous installments in this series touched on cloud computing benefits such as real time collaboration, ubiquitous access to applications and user files on any device, perhaps the most compelling attraction is the exceptionally low cost of entry. Cloud computing user devices need be nothing more than a hardware platform functioning as an ultra thin client. Equally attractive, cloud computing is client platform agnostic – both from a hardware and operating system perspective.

For example, a user at head office on the east coast creates a spreadsheet in the cloud using her office notebook running Windows. Later on at lunch, she reviews the spreadsheet on her Xoom tablet and makes a few changes before discussing it with her colleague out on the west coast. Later on and now from home, that same user accesses the spreadsheet on her brand new MacBook Pro running OS/10. As she makes some final changes, her colleague from the west coast has the spreadsheet loaded on his office desktop running Windows. Through real time collaboration he adds the remaining numbers — the spreadsheet now ready for review by the CEO. The CEO is on an ecotour in Central America but is able to stop in a small village where there’s an Internet cafe. On an old PC running Windows 98 and with dial-up Internet access, the CEO pulls up the spreadsheet, reviews it, adds some comments and returns to his adventure.

Combining portability with a more ‘traditional’ user interface such as a low cost netbook is a very good platform for cloud based office productivity applications such as spreadsheet and document preparation. Even presentations are simple to prepare using cloud based applications.

Impact on the Network Operator

As the chart below depicts, cloud computing transfers virtually all of the burden away from the consumer and into the hands of the host (most often a webco), along with the network operator/carrier.

Cost Distribution of Cloud Computing

Clearly the end user enjoys very low fixed and variable costs. With service delivery via the Internet, virtually any device with a standards compliant browser can be used. In addition, cloud oriented ‘apps’ for smart phones and tablets continue to emerge – almost on a daily basis.

The aggregate cost burden for cloud computing service delivery (both capital and operational) is largely absorbed by the host webco and/or the network operator. With that in mind, cost mitigation and monetization strategies are being investigated by webcos and network operators alike.

Cloud Computing Cost Distribution

For network operators, an opportunity to repatriate some lost revenue from over-the-top users is one possibility. Many cloud computing webcos see benefit in dispersing their hardware assets beyond their own data centres. In the trend towards network edge oriented service delivery, installing an instance of the webco’s cloud services in a network operator’s facilities is becoming a compelling idea. This approach increases redundancy and geographic diversity for the webco, but it also disperses the global cost burden.

In turn, the network operator benefits from revenue sharing, or some other revenue generating mechanism. Co-branding, along with other enhanced marketing opportunities also become possible under such collaboration.

As the industry has learned in the past decade however, it is essential the user experience of the cloud service not be compromised in attempts to build walled gardens, or through attempts to offer reverse over-the-top services in competition with the webco itself. Users are sophisticated and know they have a choice. Importantly, users typically associate cloud computing value with the webco as opposed to the network operator. The enormous success of smart phone ‘apps’ stores offered by Apple, Google, RIM and others demonstrate that network operators are in fact cognizant of where their value is and equally important, where it isn’t. With that in mind, a great opportunity for network operator/webco collaboration awaits.

As a wholesale network operator in Canada, WireIE is capable of hosting Cloud services as a complement to our Transparent Ethernet Solutions.

Forecast: Increasing Cloudiness

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Cloud applications are wide and varied. Household names such as Facebook and Twitter are cloud based as are content management systems such as WordPress. Netflix, another house hold name, streams video to millions of viewers from its servers based in the cloud. At the other end of the spectrum are advanced IT oriented cloud services such as Cisco’s OverDrive network virtualization services. OverDrive virtualizes routing, switching, security and access control in the cloud.

The general consensus is that MSN’s Hotmail was the original cloud computing service – although it wasn’t regarded as such when it launched in July, 1996. Google raised the bar in terms of capability by introducing their Docs & Spreadsheets (now simply called Google Docs) cloud service. Taking direct aim at Microsoft’s hold on the Office Suite space, Google Docs offered less functionality – the thinking being that a simplified feature set is actually an advantage for the vast majority of users. Studies have shown that 80 percent of the traditional desktop application user community only uses 20 percent of the available features. The busyness of the user interface becomes an impediment for these users. Offsetting the “dumbed-down” feature set is the ability to:

  • Collaborate on a file with other people on a real time basis regardless of where the participants are located.
  • Access the documents from any browser on any OS from anywhere there is Internet connectivity.
  • Use Google Docs at no charge.
  • Know that you will always be using the latest, most secure version of the application.
  • Know that user file backup practices offered by Google are going to be more reliable and secure than those followed in many homes and businesses.

Microsoft’s Office 365 offers tight integration between its desktop software model and its cloud services – essentially the best of both worlds – a richer feature set combined with the benefits of working in the cloud.

Dropbox and Carbonite, on the other hand, offer a more basic service by providing automatic, unattended synchronization and back up of user files to the cloud. Encryption options are available as are file sharing options with Dropbox.

The following video from the Pentasoft Channel describes the philosophy of cloud computing by concentrating on the three pillars of:

  • Virtualization
  • Utility Computing – Distributed Server Capacity
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)

Many consumer oriented cloud services predate Google Docs. Photo storage and sharing sites such as Flickr and Picasa have been around for years now. Even processor-intensive applications such as Photoshop have a cloud based repository and editing environment. Video editing, arguably one of the most bandwidth-demanding, processor intensive applications, is available in the cloud from the likes of YouTube Video Editor and Kaltura.

As the World Wide Web rapidly evolves to HTML5 many resources currently found in a client operating system are being moved out to the cloud. A simple example is cloud based fonts. Prior to HTML5, a web designer was limited to the fonts residing in the site visitor’s operating system. Among many other things, HTML5 allows new font sets to be loaded from the cloud. In fact, as we move to HTML5, the very tools used to develop websites are moving to the cloud.

An intriguing concept is Google Cloud Print. As a companion to Google Chrome, Cloud Print places printer drivers and security credentials in the cloud. Printers are then mapped to the appropriate cloud profile. Not only does this enable printing from virtually any computer anywhere, it also has the potential to redefine the way we use legacy services such as facsimile and the postal service.

In April 2010, the Eyjafjallajökull ice cap in Iceland erupted causing days of flight cancellations and delays for both passengers and air cargo. Some of the affected cargo was trans-Atlantic mail. Had we evolved to a cloud print world, much of the mail would have been unaffected because it would have printed locally – be it at a postal centre, or at the actual addressee’s home or office.

The world of Cloud Computing is advancing rapidly. Derrick Harris of Gigaom recently assembled a list of 8 cloud companies he feels we should be watching in 2011. Just click hereto read his analysis.

In our final installment we’ll take a look at the bandwidth implications as a result of the boom in cloud computing.

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.

Cloud Computing Series

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This post is the first in a series on Cloud Computing from the point of view of the network operator. We’ll provide an overview of the current cloudscape including the prominent players and their services. The series will wrap up with a discussion on bandwidth considerations for the network operator.

 

Desktop computing supported by the Local Area Network (LAN) has served business very well over the past couple of decades. The evolution of Ethernet has seen LAN speed and performance increase exponentially, while the adoption of IP has allowed us to internetwork LANs. This fundamental infrastructure hastened adoption of the World Wide Web – giving the human race access to infinite sources of knowledge, information, entertainment and social interaction. While it may seem hard to improve on such an incredible series of events, two related developments have exposed some constraints, and with them, opportunities.

The first is the progression in portability and mobility of end user devices. Laptop computers have become lighter and smaller while also becoming more computationally powerful and battery efficient. Today, the laptop shares the human productivity stage with smart phones and tablets. Clearly, device portability has become a fundamental user expectation.

The second is the profound evolution of cellular-based wireless network technology. First generation AMPS networks were launched as LANs were in their infancy. We now live in a 3G+ packet switched wireless world where data speeds on these networks rival landline data services of not too many years ago.

It is the portability of end user devices, combined with the performance and ubiquity of data networks, that has fueled the adoption of Cloud Computing. From a business perspective, the key driver is for many webcos (such as Google and Amazon) is to enhance their core offering through value added services in the cloud.