Time for a reality check

As you are probably aware, Network World Canada‘s publisher, Laurentian Technomedia Inc., is affiliated with the leading international IT publishing company, International Data Group.

That affiliation has many advantages.

Among other things, it gives us access to IDG’s worldwide research, such as a global Network World subscriber study conducted in January and February of this year. The preliminary findings of this study were presented at a recent IDG conference in Paris, attended by the publishers and editors from 11 of the 26 publications in the global Network World family, including Network World Canada‘s publisher Andrew White and editor Linda Stuart.

Based on early responses to the survey, it would appear Canadian networking professionals are implementing new technologies at a similar rate as international net managers. In addition, migrating to new network technologies, improving infrastructures to increase productivity and expanding infrastructures to support more users within in the next 12 months seem to be universally considered to be important.

However, there are a couple of notable areas where Canadian net managers deviate in their opinion from the rest of the survey’s respondents — namely, the year 2000 problem and network convergence.

In the first case, Canadians scored the importance of fixing the Y2K problem in the next 12 months higher than any other country, with the exception of Sweden which gave Y2K an equal rating of importance as Canada. Perhaps these two far-northern hemisphere countries can more vividly imagine the catastrophic impact of the lights going out mid-winter next year, or perhaps the other countries surveyed already have a better handle on the Y2K bug. Unfortunately, the survey doesn’t give all the whys and wherefores.

Suffice it to say, Network World Canada readers ranked the Y2K problem as their number one concern for the next year. We pledge to you that we will provide more regular coverage regarding Y2K in the next few months ahead.

On the question of the importance of converging voice and data networks within in the next 12 months, we were surprised to find that Canadian network managers (again, along with their Swedish counterparts) gave convergence the highest “not important” rating. This maybe shouldn’t be all that surprising, given the looming Jan. 1, 2000 deadline for fixing the Y2K bug.

But we can’t help but be concerned that Network World Canada readers still don’t realize the importance of network convergence. As columnist Dan McLean wrote last issue, a recent study he conducted at IDC Canada Ltd. suggests Canadians don’t have a clear understanding of what convergence is or how it can benefit their organizations.

The reality of the situation is that network convergence is coming whether net managers want it or not. Every major vendor is busy consolidating its previously separate voice and data equipment into one converged networking product line. In a classic chicken-and-egg course of events, the slew of billion-dollar networking mergers in the last year are both driving and responding to the convergence trend.

So, while you’re busy exterminating the pesky Y2K bug this year, try to set some time aside to educate yourself about network convergence. We’ll do our part by providing regular news and features on this important issue. Look for our second Voice/Data Convergence supplement in June.