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DQI Bureau
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In today's global marketplace, with shrinking product

lifecycles and shorter time-to-market windows, business success is measured by

the speed with

which an organization is able to gather and analyze data, and effectively
execute plans based on that analysis. The fundamental reason IT exists is to

help companies succeed with that endeavor by providing two things: business

transparency and agility.


Nevertheless, many organizations have not utilized the enormous

IT investments to link vital networked resources and information assets. In

fact, it is not uncommon for organizations to have silos hosting hundreds of

applications and databases that cannot communicate with each other. The result:

Inability to share information efficiently across the organization.

Customer records, for example, cannot be accessed easily by

sales, customer service, or purchasing departments without creating different

overlay networks that join applications and information. This lack of

transparency exists because most IT infrastructures have grown without

systematic planning. Many organizations have realized that this unplanned

expansion has left them with multiple systems and distributed resources that are

uncoordinated and under-used. These disparate systems are also costly and

difficult to manage.

From integrated data transport

phase to integrated services phase, the IIN helps an organization by

reducing infrastructure complexity and cost

The IIN Vision

Having a long-term view of IIN can help global IT organizations correct
these problems and address new challenges such as the deployment of

Service-Oriented Architectures, web services, and virtualization. The vision of

an IIN facilitates this integration of the hardware and software, making it

possible for the organizations to better align IT resources with business

priorities. IIN is an evolutionary approach rather than a revolutionary approach

to the evolving role of the network.

Not to forget that by building intelligence into an existing

network infrastructure, IIN also helps organizations realize the benefits such

as reduced infrastructure complexity and cost. It also provides organizations

with the enhanced functionality that they need to develop enterprise wide

visibility and organizational agility, which is vital for it to respond rapidly

to the changing business and market conditions.


Why Intelligence?

To eliminate the technology islands found in today's IT environment, the
infrastructure needs to be more closely linked to and responsive to the

requirements of the applications, resources, and devices connected to it. And,

therefore, a there is a need to build an ecosystem with applications vendors,

hardware and software giants, so that organizations can integrate business

processes tightly with IT and allow computing resources to be dynamically

allocated to users as needed. However, enterprises need to realize that these

greater functions can't be realized without rethinking the network, the

foundation on which an IT infrastructure is built. This is because the network

is the one element of the infrastructure that touches all others-from the

applications and middleware to the servers and users. Therefore, it is in a

unique position to monitor the transfer of information and also to enforce

policies coherently and cost-effectively.

An integrated system, active participation, and enforcing policy

with the network are the three distinguishing attributes of an intelligent

network. By adding intelligence to the network, the network can actively

participate in the delivery of applications and services. Active participation

in service delivery makes it possible for the network to effectively manage,

monitor, and optimize application and service delivery across the entire IT

environment. Network-wide intelligence also allows infrastructure-wide policies.

Enforcing policy with the network let organizations link business objectives and

processes to network rules, so that they can closely align the IT environment

with business goals and more effectively use IT resources to improve business

operations. It also gives organizations the ability to adapt quickly to the IT

environment to respond to changing business requirements.


Building IT

The IIN transforms an existing infrastructure with all its interconnected
components into a single integrated system. This systems approach extends

intelligence across multiple products and infrastructure layers and more closely

links the network to the rest of the IT infrastructure.

This vision offers an evolutionary approach that consists of

three phases in which functionality can be added to the infrastructure as



Phase I: We can call

this the integrated transport phase, where everything-data, voice, and video-consolidates

onto an IP network for secure network convergence. By integrating data, voice

and video transport onto a single, standards-based, modular network,

organizations can simplify network management and generate enterprise-wide

efficiencies. Network convergence also lays the foundation for a new class of

IP-enabled applications. Early adopters of IP communications have realized

substantial savings in toll charges, maintenance and support costs. But recent

studies reveal that the principal reason for adopting IP communications isn't

just cost saving; it's the potential for deploying new applications that

transform communications and build competitive advantage.


Phase II: Lets call

this the integrated services phase, where once the network infrastructure has

been converged, IT resources can be pooled and shared or virtualized to flexibly

address the changing needs of the organization. Integrated services help to

unify common elements such as storage and data center server capacity. By

extending virtualization capabilities to encompass server, storage, and network

elements, an organization can transparently use all of its resources more

efficiently. Business continuity is also enhanced because shared resources

across the IIN provide services in the event of a local systems failure.

Phase III: This is the

integrated application phase, where Application-Oriented Networking (AON)

technology helps enterprises build the IIN. This phase focuses on making the

network 'application aware' so that it can optimize application performance

and more efficiently deliver networked applications to users. In addition to

capabilities such as content caching, load balancing, and application-level

security, AON makes it possible for the network to simplify the application

infrastructure by integrating intelligent application message handling,

optimization, and security into the existing network. This integration delivers

the information transparency and organizational agility needed to succeed in

today's fast-paced business environment.


Tomorrow's IIN

The role of the network is evolving. The intelligent network of tomorrow
will offer much more than basic connectivity, bandwidth for users and access to

applications. It will also offer the kind of end-to-end functionality and

centralized, unified control that will promote true business transparency and


With the integration of business processes, applications, and

the network, organizations will be able to collect and share data anytime and

anywhere, whether it is external information from partners and customers or

internal data across business functions, product groups, or geographies. The IIN

will make it possible for IT organizations to act quickly and efficiently on

that information by adding, removing, or changing business processes to adapt to

new market conditions.

Pramodh Menon

The author is VP-Channels, Cisco Systems India & Saarc