I spent last week in Las Vegas, and not just for the bustling electronic sprawl of CES. Two parallel technology events also drew me to The Gambling Capital of the World: the Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards Ceremony and a panel discussion at the Storage Visions conference.
Vegas is famous for bright lights and celebrity appearances. Last week, it kept up with its reputation from Alex Trebek hosting the Technology and Engineering Emmy Awards to telepresence robots walking CES exhibit floors.
Before I get into my recap of the week’s three events, I wanted to extend a big “thank you!” to our customers. It was an honor for Signiant to receive a Technology and Engineering Emmy Award. What we do wouldn’t matter without you.
Fellow panelists Ben Bloom of Akamai, Don Gabriel of EchoStar, Eric Markow of Bel Air Internet, Michelle Munson of IBM and I discussed the problem of continued file size growth for transfer, access and storage of data. Our discussion was moderated by Marty Shindler of The Shindler Perspective who did a fantastic job of organizing a great panel. Below are the key points we hit and some of my thoughts on them.
The difference between bandwidth requirements driven by concurrent usage and bandwidth requirements driven by a single high speed point-to-point transfer was discussed. A 1000 people watching streaming videos might require an aggregate of 1000 Mbps (1Gbps) of bandwidth. But, using that entire 1 Gbps or bandwidth for one person to complete a large file transfer as quickly as possible requires a different approach. Traditional protocols like HTTP work reasonably we’ll for the first case assuming there’s a server close enough to the user, and Content Distribution Networks like Akamai provide cached copies of that content and enough servers in the right places that all 1000 (or 1,000,000) people can access it simultaneous with a great user experience. But using a full gigabit for a single file transfer requires overcoming the limitations of traditional protocols like HTTP, which can’t use more that a fraction of the bandwidth when distance or other compromising network conditions are present.
Most Internet Service Providers talk publicly about edge bandwidth and conveniently forget the core bandwidth that connects all their subscribers within their own network and peering points with other networks. Most point-to-point applications (Video Transfer, Voice over IP, etc.) drive core bandwidth andmore attention needs to be paid to this with peering being a key piece of what makes the Internet a actual network of networks.
Net neutrality is related to core Internet bandwidth and peering. People don’t want Gigabit Internet connections, they want fast access to all of the content and applications on the Internet and edge bandwidth is only a part of this. Ben Bloom added that design constraints drive innovation, so he’s confident —regardless of which way net neutrality regulatory debates go — we’ll find ways to continue delivering great Internet based user experiences.
It’s clear that wireless technology, both public and private, dominates the edge of the Internet. I can’t remember the last time I plugged my laptop or phone into anything other than a power outlet. Security of wireless (specifically Wi-Fi) was discussed as an issue. Few people realize that the Wi-Fi implementation on their phone or laptop continuously broadcasts looking for previous network connections giving up a lot of information about them in the process. Also, People’s almost addictive need for a quick “Wi-Fi fix”, often means they don’t adequately validate the Wi-Fi network they’re connecting to making themselves vulnerable to wire snooping man-in-the-middle attacks.
The Emmy Awards ceremony on January 8th was a real red carpet affair, even without the red carpet. Alex Trebek is a true professional and was a thoroughly entertaining host for the awards, confessing in his opening remarks, “I am not the most knowledgeable individual when it comes to new technology. I still remember when turning something off for fifteen minutes and then plugging it back in solved all the problems. That same theory wrecked my first marriage.”
The award ceremony was held in the grandiose Bellagio Hotel ballroom. A Who’s Who of Television Technology spread throughout the hall from manufacturers to service providers including broadcasters and Over the Top delivery.
Trebek gave homage to how rapidly television technology has evolved, the hard work it’s taken and how the “transmission and reception of moving pictures and sound” has empowered people like him. The whole event was fun and entertaining. We were really honored to be there and especially to be recognized for our contributions to TV technology innovation.
The Consumer Electronic Show has been written about quite a lot since last week, so I’ll be brief with a few impressions.
It’s hard to imagine the spectacle until you see it, with headphone manufactures alone taking up entire football field sized spaces and more flying drones than you could ever image a market for. Virtual reality based gaming technology was everywhere and fitness technology covered a good portion of the enormous Sands Exhibit center. With meetings spread up and down the strip and at multiple exhibit venues, hour-long cab lines made walking, shuttles and the monorail the only practical modes of transportation.
One great thing about Vegas is that it’s always just as fun to leave as it is to arrive.