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The Network Inside


July 3, 2008 - 0 Comments

Those of us focused on IT concerns about security, QoS, video, the last mile, management, and usability in the business word can sometimes forget that our own households have evolved in a few short years to become microcosms of many of the same trends. It’s complicated stuff, to be sure. In fact, a few months ago, David Pogue reported in his New York Times blog that 30 percent of home networking gear ends up getting returned to the store. So what’s the problem? I think it’s the fundamental issue that plagues IT organizations in the business world: insufficient pre-planning of what I’m calling the HAN (Home Area Network). The challenges, albeit on a lesser scale, are no different than that which confront network administrators on a daily basis. Traffic and resources need to be managed, and that calls for sufficient bandwidth and equipment with intelligence.As we know, when bits travel, over cable, DSL, fiber, or even wireless, the router they arrive at likely includes a firewall, as well as the ability to hide private addresses. These bits are then diverted onto the backbone, be it Wi-Fi or Cat 5, and then shuttled to your PC, MAC, or network-attached storage device. Maybe to a webcam, a security system, or a smart meter. But what happens when we add video? It ups the ante, in a very big way.At Cisco, we believe that video will pave the road to the Zettabyte. It will also have a profound impact on how we design our HANs. Will Wi-Fi be sufficient? Or, like the Internet backbone, will wired connections do the heavy lifting. Will HDTVs and stereos sprout Ethernet connections? In my household, I’m downloading movies and TV shows to an Apple Time Capsule and Apple TV; the link between the two is a Cat 5. What I’m currently mulling, though, is how to securely extend the HAN to my daughters’ cousins’ home, without relying on some third party. It’s this type of stretching of the human network that brings exciting possibilities.What’s going in your HAN?



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