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Accelerating Pace of the Industry and Other Trends Hold Great Promise for All.

The industry we're in is a most exciting industry. So much has been written about our industry over the years that sometimes it's difficult to sit back and really chart the progress. On the other hand, it's difficult to tell exactly where the industry is going to go. I think we're all fairly used to predicting what's going to happen; we just don't know when it's going to happen.

We in the industry who are developers and manufacturers of products sometimes take most of the credit for what happens. But really, we're sort of the middlemen in all of this. The semiconductor companies give us an awful lot in the way of capabilities, and the user communiy really determines the growth of the industry. Because without user needs, without user confidence, without user ideas, we really don't have an industry.

This industry we're in is a large industry. I read somewhere that the electronics industry, by the late 1980s, will be a $400-billion industry. Now that's the largest industry on the planet, and we're all a part of it.

Now, is it an old industry? No. Thirty years ago, there wasn't much of an industry. Twenty years ago, virtually no data communication was being done anywhere in the country. Ten years ago, still not a great deal, but the accelerated pace over the last 10 years has taken us to the size he industry is today. I project that later in the decade we'll not only hit the $400 billion, but we'll be much larger than that. And there's no telling where this Information Age ends, simply because it's such a dynamic environment.

People over the years have asked us to project with some accuracy what's going to happen in the industry. I felt that long before now we'd have much more involvement with inexpensive satellite channels. Inexpensive channels to carry information is very critical to the overall development of our industry. I projected quite confidently about six years ago that by today everything would be carried by satellite. It's obvious I've been wrong, although I think I've been wrong in timing, rather than in fact.

Technology forces us in the industry to take a look at how we develop programs. We at Paradyne have changed our development focus considerably over the years. For example, a few years ago we developed all of our own microprocessors. We don't do that any more for a very goods reason. We used to write all of our own operating system software because there was no where else to get that. The technology today is such that we don't need to do that any more.

If you look at what's taken the place of all of these developments we used to do, the microprocessors era is upon us. The semiconductor industry has produced all of this tremendous computing power that we and other companies are struggling to take advantage of and use properly. So, instead of doing our own development activities in the way of processors, we have this magnificent bounty that comes from the semiconductor industry. Money for Other Areas

Other technologies that are available today--gate arrays, standard cell technology--are much more efficient in the development of products than custom work. This really changes the way we run our business. For example, we really don't need to do things we did before; we don't have to put our dollars into that type of development activity, and instead put them in other activities. For example, in more networking products better networking products, more diagnostics. Because if we see this huge network of networking products and capabilities spreading across the country, then we need control mechanisms that will control not only the technical health of the network but also the administrative capabilities that are required.

So we're able to better utilize our development dollars to bring better products and systems to you.

The other factor in our technological society is that we can't take three years to develop a product any more. The product-development cycle has had to shorten. When you're doing custom work in either software or LSI, then it takes a long time. A typical development cycle in our company used to be about three years. The typical development cycle has to come down to about 18 months, because you're demanding more changes than can be accommodated with a three-year development cycle.

Looking at other trends within the industry, there are a lot of these new types of activities that are beginning to go on that are being used in industry, but have not yet achieved what we think they ultimately will achieve. For example, local-area networks. A very big area. Everyone talks about it. For years, the projections were for it to be a much larger market activity today than it has been. But again, It's one of those types of activities that will develop, because it's logical, it's necessary, and it will happen as soon as the right type of product, the right type of price/performance, is delivered to the user.

We believe that the trends along those lines will be more toward a local-area network being combined with a wire-type network. It will also allow you to connect multiple host computers to the local-area network; not just minicomputers, but IBM-type processors, Univac-type processors and others, and will allow the connection of real 3270-type devices to the network. And of course all of this will be controlled by a networking program for both wide-area and local-area networks.

So we see that as a trend in the industry, as one that will happen, but it will happen over a longer period of time.

Workstations. Probably the thing you read the most about today is the power you can get in a workstation. I was having lunch recently with a customer of ours, and he was saying that he's really perplexed. He runs a huge network. He has six or eight data centers, plus one overseas. He has 800 programmers. He has 25 or 30 3080 series computers. And he said the most perplexing thing they've had is what to do with workstations. He's projecting that in the next few years a workstation may have the capability of having a huge amount of processing power, something that you can sit on your desk. And with the developments that are going on today in disk technology, you can have extremely large disk files sitting on that desk as well, or at least sitting right next to that desk.

Now what can you do when each department that you've been serving over the years has it own data center? and that's essentially what we're talking about as we look forward. How do you manage the integrity of the data bases? Is each department allowed to do exactly what it wants without access to a corporate data base? Does the corporate data base completely vaporize, and each person be responsibile for his own? He doesn't believe so, but he thinks the task of networking these types of devices and controlling them, and also providing the integrity for the data base, is a massive task that has to be accomplished in the next few years.

Our approach to the workstation is more along the lines of a communications-type device. For example, you would really like to have one terminal that could emulate the functions of multiple terminals and be able to go with multiple hosts. That capability is with us today. You can have one terminal that can take on the personality of a 3270 and go into an IBM host. You can push a buttom and have it take on the personality of an Univac host. That accomplishes a great deal for the industry. So that's the way we think the terminal marketplace is going to develop over the next few years.

Network management--a very key area of the future, and the thing our customers ask us more and more about. When can you give us beyond what you've given us to help us control the networks that we have today and the networks that we see in the future?" Their statement really is, it doesn't matter whether it's analog or digital or whether it's your network or someone else's network, it would be nice to bring all of that information back to a central site and be able to exercise more control over that outflow/inflow that's so essential to running a business.

One of the areas we've been intrigued with is an area that hasn't grown very fast--packet switching. It appears to us to offer a lot of the capabilities that people are asking for in networks today. For example, with packet switching and the development of protocol converters you can bring into a private packet-switching system today Univac terminals, Burroughs terminals, IBM terminals, asynchronous-type devices--bring them into a network as X.25 packets, route those packets throughout the network, and deposit them into whatever a host computer requires as long as that computer can accept X.25 input, and virtually everyone can. There still needs to be some improvement and some additional acceptance of X.25 as a universal protocol in the movement of data, but that appears to be making some inroads.

The difficulty is that it's not to everyone's advantage to have standardization of protocol, which has created massive problems for the industry. Most companies have over four networks running. The reason they have four separate networks is very simple. There are four different types of protocols being used. Private packet switching appears to be the answer to allowing everything being converted into a universal protocol for movement around the system.

So why hasn't it developed? Price/performance, primarily. It's been fairly big in government over the years. It's fairly big internationally. But until we're ready to deliver to you price/performance, you can't afford it.

The other area that I've talked about over the years, and the philosophy that our company has accepted, is higher-speed communications. We've always believed that the world needs to go faster and faster, and if you have more data in this information world that we're in, you need to move that data faster and, of course, more reliably. And these trends now are beginning to be felt throughout the industry.

Looking again at the modem area, a lot of development has been done in the this area, up through 19.2 kb/s now, but that's because most of the concentration has been in leased-line-type activity. We believe in the future that we're going to see a lot of activity taking place in the higher-speed dial-type market. That's a trend that can be accomplished today. We know how to build those products, and we have for some time, it's just that in the higher-speed area we couldn't deliver the price/performance that was required to make the application feasible. But over the next several years, we'll see a proliferation of these devices into the marketplace.

It's strange about some of the markets. One market we explored quite a few yeras ago was the market of data security, the so-called encryption market. We developed an R&D product, and nothing happened. Now the time is right for data encryption. We've seen the move first from the government, now it's moved to defense contractors, who are allowed to include it as part of their cost basis. It's beginning to move to the banks, the Federal Reserve system. It's beginning to be talked about by the larger corporations. Devices today are a little expensive for mass distribution, but as the marketplace grows, we'll see the price/performance improve. I would project that sometime during the next 10 years that most products you buy, that most networks you run, will have data encryption as part of the requirement. I believe that the industry can deliver that type of capability at a very reasonable price in the future.

In summary, I think we can look forward to the pace of change accelerating even more, as communications technology colapses the information float. We have an awful lot of information that's out there that needs to be moved from one location to another. And as soon as we in the industry can accelerate that float, then we'll be even more successful than we are today.

I think we all need to understand that the life channel of the Information Age is communications. Because without communications we can't do anything with all this information generated in what we call the era of information. I think we have a great future ahead of all of us. We're all partners in what we do. We can't develop the right products if we don't work with you, you can't have the right products if you don't work with us.
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Wiggins, R.
Publication:Communications News
Article Type:transcript
Date:Dec 1, 1984
Words:2134
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