It’s a fair bet that most punters enthusiastically ringing in to cast their votes on popular game shows don’t think about the network capacity problems they are creating! Typical Joe Public eh?
When someone dials in to one of these shows they make use of Media Servers in the telecommunications network. Typically Media Servers are boxes especially designed for a single purpose. There are a number of such types of server used by Telcos (and I count Timico amongst them) for specialist applications such as the aforementioned IVR based voting system and business services such as conference bridges.
The problem is that the kit used for voting is different to the kit used for conference calls and meetings. This means that expensive bits of kit lie idle in a network for much of the time. Conference bridges are used during working hours and TV Game Shows are on in the evenings (apparently 🙂 ). The surges in network demand prompted by game shows also results in sometimes between 10 and 100 times overprovisioning of capacity compared to the average state of affairs which exacerbates the costliness!
This is all about to change – watch out for the virtual network!
On Friday I met with Chris Boulton of NS Technologies at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport. Chris used to work in the Office of the CTO at Ubiquity Software, a Terry Matthews SIP company that was bought by Avaya couple of years or so ago and has a blue chip heritage in designing advanced IP communications networks infrastructure.
Chis is currently working on the Media Resource Broker. We are all used to the idea of running different applications on a PC or handheld device, or even games on a gaming box. Telecoms networks though have always been built using dedicated kit. The MRB changes this by allowing telcos to build networks that use standard platforms targetable at different applications according to demand at any given time.
So a box that is used as a conference bridge in the day can be used for voting out contestants in the evening. This will not only save huge amounts of money but also result in a flexible and scalable network architecture that can then quickly be applied to other functions, many of which will not even have been thought of yet.
We talk about doing things in the cloud but it is interesting to see that even infrastructure is moving in this direction.
The whole world is moving towards becoming virtualised. I can even see the day when the typical household will have a box under the stairs next to the gas and electricity meter that will be its network processing resource. This will bring with it huge opportunities in business.
It will also of course heighten our reliance on such resources and the Domesday scenario of when it all goes wrong becomes even more of an issue. But there again even that represents an opportunity…