A "network of networks" will be required to support and manage impending combined voice and data communications growth, Lucent CEO Richard McGinn said today in his keynote address at the NetWorld+Interop trade show in Atlanta.
For network growth to continue, McGinn said, networks need to become faster, cheaper, more manageable, more scalable, and more reliable. "If data users were less forgiving, the Internet wouldn't have evolved as rapidly as it has," he said, saying that grace period is will end as customers start to demand voice-quality reliability.
The answer to some of those issues, McGinn maintained, is to combine voice, data, and wireless traffic in a single network, his "network of networks." The convergent network would have the reliability of voice but the packet-switching capabilities of data networks. Vendors will have to work on the "spaces in between" disparate networks to create an infrastructure that will support all traffic, he said.
While such a network has been tied to the Internet in the public mind, he said the IP infrastructure alone won't be enough; the solution has to be a network with "a common currency" of protocols that can incorporate all sorts of traffic. He foresees the more reliable asynchronous transfer mode technology's being folded into IP to make such a network. "We'll probably call it IP, but its reliability roots are in ATM," he said.
McGinn said Lucent's fortunes will increasingly be tied to IP products. The company, which makes roughly $1 billion on IP products now, will be making as much as 30% of its revenue from IP products over the next five years, even factoring in the growth in other areas of the business.