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Bill St. Arnaud is a R&E Network and Green IT consultant who works with clients on a variety of subjects such as the next generation research and education and Internet networks. He also works with clients to develop practical solutions to reduce GHG emissions such as free broadband and dynamiccharging of eVehicles (See http://green-broadband.blogspot.com/) . For more about me please see http://goo.gl/pOpwBView my complete profile

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Google announces tools to determine if your ISP is blocking or throttling traffic

[Another exciting development in addition to Glasnost and Switzerland to determine if your carrier is blocking or throttling certain types of traffic. Although no one disagrees that carriers have the right to manage their network, it should be done on a non-discriminatory and transparent basis both in terms of the sources of the traffic, application AND class of user. Blocking P2P traffic obviously is in the self interest of many carriers who distribute video outside of their IP network and deliberately throttling traffic asymmetrically between low speed versus high speed subscribers should not be used a technique to push lower speed subscribers to purchase higher speed services—BSA]


Posted by Vint Cerf, Chief Internet Evangelist, and Stephen Stuart, Principal Engineer

When an Internet application doesn't work as expected or your connection seems flaky, how can you tell whether there is a problem caused by your broadband ISP, the application, your PC, or something else? It can be difficult for experts, let alone average Internet users, to address this sort of question today.

Last year we asked a small group of academics about ways to advance network research and provide users with tools to test their broadband connections. Today Google, the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute, the PlanetLab Consortium, and academic researchers are taking the wraps off of Measurement Lab (M-Lab), an open platform that researchers can use to deploy Internet measurement tools.

Researchers are already developing tools that allow users to, among other things, measure the speed of their connection, run diagnostics, and attempt to discern if their ISP is blocking or throttling particular applications. These tools generate and send some data back-and-forth between the user's computer and a server elsewhere on the Internet. Unfortunately, researchers lack widely-distributed servers with ample connectivity. This poses a barrier to the accuracy and scalability of these tools. Researchers also have trouble sharing data with one another.

M-Lab aims to address these problems. Over the course of early 2009, Google will provide researchers with 36 servers in 12 locations in the U.S. and Europe. All data collected via M-Lab will be made publicly available for other researchers to build on. M-Lab is intended to be a truly community-based effort, and we welcome the support of other companies, institutions, researchers, and users that want to provide servers, tools, or other resources that can help the platform flourish.

Today, M-Lab is at the beginning of its development. To start, three tools running on servers near Google's headquarters are available to help users attempt to diagnose common problems that might impair their broadband speed, as well as determine whether BitTorrent is being blocked or throttled by their ISPs. These tools were created by the individual researchers who helped found M-Lab. By running these tools, users will get information about their connection and provide researchers with valuable aggregate data. Like M-Lab itself these tools are still in development, and they will only support a limited number of simultaneous users at this initial stage.

At Google, we care deeply about sustaining the Internet as an open platform for consumer choice and innovation. No matter your views on net neutrality and ISP network management practices, everyone can agree that Internet users deserve to be well-informed about what they're getting when they sign up for broadband, and good data is the bedrock of sound policy. Transparency has always been crucial to the success of the Internet, and, by advancing network research in this area, M-Lab aims to help sustain a healthy, innovative Internet.

You can learn more at the M-Lab website. If you're a researcher who'd like to deploy a tool, or a company or institution that is interested in providing technical resources, we invite you to get involved.

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Posted By Google Public Policy Blog to Google Public Policy Blog at 1/28/2009 03:32:00 P

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Three revolutionary technololgies that may impact future Internet

1.”Twisted” light in optical fibers
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[“Twisted” light has the potential to dramatically increase bandwidth of optical networks. Already researchers are using various wireless techniques such as phase quadrature phase shift modulation to achieve data rates in excess of 560 Gbps on a single wavelength in a DWDM system, and it is expected that data rates in excess of 1000 Gbps per wavelength will be possible soon. These techniques will work with existing DWDM networks and dramatically increase their bandwidth capacity to tens if not hundreds of terabits. Optical Orbital Angular Momentum (OOAM) has the potential to add an almost infinite number of phase states to the modulated signal and further increase the capacity to thousands of terabits. Up to now the challenge has been how to couple OOAM modulated signals into single mode fiber.

http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=04388855

In summary, we have analyzed and verified the generation of an optical vortex carrying OAM directly in fiber starting with a fiber core mode for the first time to our knowledge. This is achieved by transferring OAM from an acoustic vortex
generated in the fiber. Analysis of the coupling coefficient of this acousto-optic interaction verifies independent conservation of spin and orbital angular momenta.

Also see
http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/1367-2630/9/9/328/njp7_9_328.html#nj250899s1


2. Truphone Brings Skype To iPhone & iTouch
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http://gigaom.com/2009/01/05/truphone-brings-skype-to-iphone-itouch/

[Now you can make skpe calls on your iTouch or Iphone using any Wifi networks and avoid expensive cell phone charges and long distance fees. Excerpt from the Gigaom web site—BSA]

Geraldine Wilson, who was recently appointed as the chief executive of Truphone, told me in a conversation earlier today that Truphone wants to “offer our users a comprehensive communications experience. We started out as a voice app but now we are broadening it to other applications.”

By doing so, Wilson and Truphone founder James Tagg believe that they will give Truphone users a reason to stay insider the application longer, creating more opportunities to make phone calls and bringing in much-needed revenues. “In a mobile environment it is hard to switch between different applications, and that is why we are creating a single application environment,” Tagg says.


3. New Internet-ready TVs put heat on cable firms
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[Excerpts from Globe and Mail – BSA]

http://business.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090105.wrtvweb06/BNStory/Business/home
For years, technology companies have tried in vain to bring the Internet onto the screen at the centre of North American living rooms. Although TV shows have made the migration to the Web, to date, it has been a one-way road.

Now, a new breed of Internet-connected televisions is threatening to shake up both the technology and broadcasting industries while making millions of recently purchased high-definition TVs yesterday's news.

Yesterday, LG Electronics Inc. unveiled a new line of high-definition TVs at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that will include software from Netflix Inc. – to allow users to download movies and television programs directly to their TVs over an Internet connection.

Mr. McQuivey said Internet-connected TVs will have truly arrived when we see a major Web video services like Hulu.com start taking viewers away from cable companies.

Hulu – a joint project of NBC Universal Inc. and News Corp., which is not yet available in Canada – is ad-supported and offers free on-demand videos, allowing users to watch popular U.S. programs at their convenience.

“[Cable companies] have the most to lose and it's their business model which is at greatest risk of redundancy in this transition,” said Carmi Levy, an analyst with AR Communications Inc. “Their consistent revenue stream will come under attack as new offerings come to the market. … It's similar to what the telephone companies have faced from voice over Internet telephony (VoIP), cellphones and free instant messaging tools.”

Top 10 IT Trends for Higher Education in 2009

[From Lev Gonick’s excellent blog as mentioned in NLR newsletter – www.nlr.net--BSA]
Top 10 IT Trends for Higher Education in 2009

http://blog.case.edu/lev.gonick/

What happens when tough economic times combine with fatigue across the campus community hyping the latest 'killer app', and the growing intolerance of disruptions to services occasioned by security-related activities. I think the intersection of these three realities represent the most important challenges for IT Leadership on the campus in 2009.

The truth is that we've not seen 3 years of negative economic growth since the birth of the Internet. We are one year into the global recession and the crystal-ball gazing efforts underway on most campuses are not producing rosy scenarios. CIO leaders at most universities are closing in on 'core' operations as they look for options for cost cutting requirements after more than 5 years of marginal growth. CIOs are portfolio managers. Like their counterparts, CIO portfolio management is really about combining requirements for operational excellence, customer service, and selective innovation (r&d) activity. In a three-year secular downturn, there are going to be tough decisions ahead to keep strong performance in all three core activities outlined above.

For many university technology leaders the emergence over the past couple of years of web 2.0 technologies represented a confluence of maturing underlying technologies combined with the rise of what we asserted was the first really promising set of mass collaboration tools. Here we were sitting on the precipice of the long promised 'transformational' potential of technology to the education enterprise and then the economy tanks. In reality, the economic downturn is only one reason that the campus community is less enamored with web 2.0 tools than most of us technologists. For many across the university the rate of change in introducing ever more exciting technologies has left them, to put it diplomatically, breathless. In reality, the hype over web 2.0 is only the most recent instantiation of the long held view that we technologists are amusing ourselves and the rest of the campus to death, forever one gadget or applet away from the ultimate breakthrough.

Finally, whether it is the latest facebook virus, botnets instigated from far flung corners of the world, or the now predictable 'urgent' security fixes from our favorite vendors, there is a real sense across the campus that the 'bad guys' are winning the war. What was simply a nuisance that could be solved with a bit of end-user education and throwing some hardware at the problem has emerged into our own full fledged war on the forces of evil on the Internet. Like recent international conflicts, most on the university campus are ready to conclude that we have neither a strategy for winning this war nor an exit strategy.
Combined, economic blues, end-user fatigue, and a growing sense of collective vulnerability to the forces who would seek to harm us has the campus technology community facing its biggest set of challenges in 25 years.
Against that sobering backdrop, here are my top 10 IT trends for higher education for the year ahead, 2009.

1. To The Cloud and Beyond. Watch for significant moves in the university space going well beyond cloud email services. I expect we'll see the emergence of shared storage utilities and a range of 'web services' in 2009 following industry trends, campus economic pressure, and ecological considerations. While the same resistance points will find their way into campus deliberations, resistance is too expensive, distracts us from where we can bring real value, and ultimately futile. But for the most regulated storage requirements, there really is no alternative.
2. The Consumer Reigns Supreme. There has been an academic debate in most large organizations for 5 years about how we were going to manage the growing presence of consumer technologies within our enterprises. No more. The tsunami is here. Those of us still debating the merits of attending to Facebook, iTouch/iPhone, streaming media, massive player online gaming, mashups, and virtual reality platforms are staring at the wall of this tidal wave of consumer technologies. New trends in 2009 will likely include the first college-centered breakthroughs for mobile computing after mass notification. Watch for location-based technologies and presence technologies embedded in mobile smart phones and other devices (like wi-fi enabled iTouch) to lead to the first set of scalable campus applets.
3. Streaming Media for Education Goes Mainstream. Students expect it. Teachers accept it. Network engineers will have to live with it. Academic technologists need to figure out how to scale it. In the next 12 months, I think YouTube, iTunes U, and the plethora of campus-based services for academic streaming media are going to hit main street. Economics plus assessment data now provide compelling evidence that student success is positively associated with the integration of streaming media into the capture and review of traditional learning models of instructor-centered delivery. In the next year I expect that we will see significant acceleration of efforts associated with video/speech to text technologies to provide real time transcripts for purposes of enhanced search capabilities. I also expect that large repositories of meta-tagged and transcoded academic assets (classes, recitations, seminars etc ...) will begin to emerge allowing for federated searches and mashing up of learning content by students and faculty alike.
4. SecondLife Goes Back to School. Initial exuberance and hype led to hundreds of universities experimenting with 3D Virtual Worlds three years ago. The user-generated universe requires new pedagogy and curriculum considerations. Academic technologists and the education community has learned a lot over the past several years. Look for new functionality and education-centered technology capabilities over the next year. The net result should be an exciting and provocative set of new collaborative capabilities to help enable more campus control and flexible tools for learning. Dust off your avatar and get ready for one of the most important collaborative learning platforms to make inroads in the year ahead.
5. e-Book Readers Disrupt the College Text Book Marketplace. Early predictions of the demise of the college text book market in 2008 were highly exaggerated. Sony and Amazon (among others) are in e-Book Reader space for the long haul. Early in 2009, expect to see new hardware form factors reflecting a more mature and robust technology. More important, I think we'll see pilot activity among the Book publishers and the e-book publishing industry to work with the campus to create relevant tools for learning embedded in their core technologies.
6. The IT Help Desk Becomes An Enterprise Service Desk . Long underfunded and staffed with underpaid students I think we are going to hit an inflection point in the IT Help Desk world. Customer service matters. Truth is that with a few important notable exceptions most campus Help Desks are not our strongest service lines. An emergent group of higher-education focused companies have entered this space and are offering a compelling value proposition for many campuses. On some campuses, the Berlin wall between IT Help Desks and Facilities and other customer service organizations are also coming down. The trend line is about to hit a take-off point. I think 2009 may well be the year.
7. Course Management Systems are Dead! Long Live Course Management Systems! Proprietary course management systems are heading for a brick wall. The combination of economic pressures combined with saturated markets and the maturing stage of the life cycle of these once innovative platforms means that 2009 may well be the year of change or a year of serious planning for change. Relatively inexpensive and feature-comparable open source alternatives combined with some now learned experience in the process of transition from closed to open systems for the inventory of repeating courses makes real change in this once bedrock of education technology a growing possibility. As product managers and management view these trend lines, I think we might see incumbent players make a valiant effort to re-invent themselves before the market drops out from underneath them. Look for the number of major campuses moving (or making serious threats to move) from closed systems to climb in the year ahead.
8. ERP? What's That? No, I don't think the large enterprise resource planning systems that undergird our major administrative systems are going to fall off the face of the earth like antiquated dinosaurs in the next 12 months. I do think that ERP upgrades which many campuses are now facing, planning, and staging are going to need to be re-positioned. At a minimum, I think we will see decisions made to delay major upgrades for 18-24 months. It is also possible that pressure will grow in this next year on the duopoly of these integrated systems providers to re-open their maintenance and other fee schedules in exchange for continuing multi-year commitments from the campus community. We will also see new models mature in the hosting of ERP services both as shared services among the campus community and as a commercial service offering. For these glacially-moving systems, change is happening. It's just hard some times to see the rate of change until you're looking in the rear view mirror 10 years from now.
9. In God We Trust -- Everyone Else Bring Data. Decision support software and data warehousing tools have been available on campus for well over a decade. While cultures of evidence are not well rooted in the decision making on many University campuses, the growing pressures for better decision making in the context of budget pressures is compelling the campus to make better decisions. The small priesthood of campus analysts with skills to support decision making have more job security than most. At the same time, look for new reporting tools and growing expectations that metrics, scorecards, and data analytics will be used to drive tough decision making on campus.
10. Smile, Interactive High Definition Video Conferencing moves from the Board Room to the Research Lab and the Lecture Hall. Facing budget pressures and public pressure to go green, corporations around the world are investing in next generation video conferencing. Moving operating dollars into infrastructure investments in this collaboration platform technology has led to significant reductions in travel costs, better space utilization, and a growing conscientiousness about carbon footprints. As businesses continues to look for capabilities to support global operations video conferencing has become a daily part of many companies. The logic facing corporations now confront the University community. Over the past 18 months some public universities have been mandated to reduce their carbon footprints. Most everyone else is facing growing operating pressures pinching travel and other budget lines. New students care about pro-active green initiatives as part of their University experience. Over the next 12 months look for double digit growth in campus adoption of next generation video conferencing tools, including integrated collaboration technologies.
One more trend for good measure. Substitute this one if you disagree vehemently with any of the other items above.
11. The campus data center goes under the scope . Most every campus technology leader has been zinged for disaster recovery and business continuity planning. Add to this that there is exponential demand among the research community for computational research space to support high performance computing. The facilities community is under growing pressure to distribute the costs of power consumption on campus. Data centers consume disproportionate amounts of space, cooling, and power. Finally, growing green is a campus imperative leading to potential operating savings through virtualization, data center optimization, and new greener strategies. Board audit committees and senior management are going to hold technology management accountable for robust data center operations in a highly constrained budget environment.
I don't know about you but my holiday gift wish list includes an extra bottle of Tylenol three, a Teflon flak jacket, and a hope that structured innovation remains part of the campus IT portfolio. Against multiple pressures, focus on structured innovation remains our best hope of remaining central to the University's strategic mission and activity.
Lev Gonick
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, OH
December 15, 2008