Lucent throws new rocks on buzzword slag heap

If you think you’ve had enough of buzzwords like “information superhighway” and “digital economy,” or all those “e” words such as “e-commerce” and “e-business,” well, brace yourself. Here come two more.

“Cyber carriers” and the “economy of light” are just two of the new buzzwords that have come up, and although these words may sound like something out of a new Star Wars movie, Lucent Technologies Inc. claims that cyber carriers have already started to emerge and that the economy of light will be upon us soon.

So what are cyber carriers, and what do they have to do with the economy of light?

Alisa Kuno, Lucent’s vice-president of marketing for the Asia-Pacific service provider networks division, explained that the economy of light represents the future value of communications services. In the past, there was the legacy economy, where the value of communication was measured in time, distance and bandwidth. In today’s Internet economy, communication services bring content, commerce, communications, context and community together. This economy is characterized by a best-effort, high-latency, vulnerable and low-speed access network.

In tomorrow’s economy of light, innovative applications will be available. There will be rich media content, personalized services, and business “vortals,” or vertical portals, for specific-industry applications that will be always available, anytime and anywhere.

“The home of the future will be able to access digital TV or interactive TV, and so many other innovative applications. The capability of the applications that will be available in the economy of light will be more interesting, and the bandwidth that will run these applications will expand exponentially,” said Kuno during a presentation at the Lucent Asia Pacific Media Day held recently in Hong Kong.

Cyber carriers will play a major role in this new economy, Kuno said. Cyber carriers are the super providers that will both own and operate the network services as well as the data centres that host applications for outsourcing services, said Kuno.

Outsourcing has been growing also, because business models have been changing. Businesses are looking more for new revenue streams and partnerships that will allow them to quickly deploy their products at lower costs.

Kuno added that application service providers (ASPs) came about because of this need for outsourced services. This type of service allowed enterprises to focus on their core businesses.

The market for ASPs is growing very fast, Kuno said. Research firms such as the Yankee Group, Dataquest and

International Data Corp. place the value of the ASP market from US$1.9 billion to US$3.9 billion in 1999. By 2003, the Yankee Group projects that the market will be worth US$17 billion; IDC says it will be US$22.3 billion; while Dataquest predicts it will be US$22.7 billion.

Kuno said it is just logical for one company to own both the data centre and the network on which it runs.

“You have to give a guarantee for your services. Of course, you can only guarantee what you own,” she said.

Traditional service providers are already moving quickly into the network hosting market. Service providers such as NTT Communications Corp., AT&T Corp., Cable & Wireless PLC, UUNet Technologies Inc. and GTE Corp. have all announced initiatives to invest in data centre services.

The data centre build-out has begun and vendor decisions are being made today, said Kuno. Today there are already some 503 data centres worldwide, and plans have been announced by various companies to build up to 1,451

globally by 2003.