Future shock

The virtual enterprise

"With broadband video, everybody stays connected and works from anywhere." Sid Ahuja Vice president, Software Media Research, AT&T Labs

You're an IT executive for a large company. Employees are scattered all over the world and moving all the time. Still, they are always connected to the network and all the information they need to do their jobs is at their fingertips.

The network doesn't just accommodate e-mails and business documents. Real-time video is the preferred method of communication. That means the network must be able to handle streaming video between all types of devices.

The network also needs to provide encryption, single sign-on, VPN tunnelling, wireless access anywhere in the world, biometrics, identity management and personalization.

Most of this will be outsourced to mobile virtual network operators, who will provide this service to companies, Sid Ahuja predicts. IT executives will still have control over internal networks, databases of key corporate information, but they won't need to own the routers and switches.

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