Glitch disconnects Webcast on wide-area application services

One thing I love about this job is the never-ending irony. A few yearsago, a major vendor paid hotel and air fare so I could travel to NewYork to see a demonstration of a video conferencing product. Mediarelations reps for telecom equipment makers often insist I meet face toface with their clients, rather than get briefed over the phone. Thenthis week, I was disconnected from a Webcast in which vendors and ananalyst discussed the quality of service over wide-area networks.

Iam always leery of conference calls that take place through Webcasts,rather than over that archaic, quaint technology known as the phone.Perhaps I’m irrational, but plain old telephone system gives me a warmand fuzzy feeling that I never get when I’m relying on the Internet forvoice and data communications. I don’t know what it is – something todo with five nines reliability versus two sixes reliability, I guess.The fact that our tech department had sent a message that morningwarning our ISP was having router problems also had something to dowith it.

On Tuesday, Fluke Networks sponsored a Webcast thatincluded speakers from Forrester Research and Cisco Systems Inc. Thepurpose of the call was to discuss how Fluke’s Visual PerformanceManager can diagnose problems with Cisco’s wide-area applicationservices, not to demonstrate how reliable my particular wide-areaconnection was at the time.

I did hear enough of the call toknow that Georgina Schaefer, technical leader at Cisco Systems, saysTCP has some issues, such as the fact that it rarely uses all availablebandwidth. She didn’t mention this, but apparently, TCP also stopsusing all of the bandwidth when you’re on conference calls as well.

WhenI did reconnect on to the call, Forrester analyst Chris Silva said whenyou use applications such as voice over IP or cloud computing over awide area, you’re not necessarily going to be looking for a “pointsolution,” but a service level agreement, or something that canguarantee the application works as it should. I’m not sure what wassaid in the interim, but it wasn’t difficult to convince me of Silva’slast point.

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