Moving into the networked office of 2005

It's the corporate change every IT manager dreads - the inevitable move from one location to another and the associated network problems. We take a look at what IT managers should be considering for the office of 2005 - where the network plays an integral role for both voice and data communications.

When InTechnology's sales and marketing director Mark Winter was looking to expand his wireless network security software distribution business from St Kilda in Melbourne, Queensland's Gold Coast offered more than just surf and sunshine.

Varsity Lakes in Robina on the Gold Coast was where InTechnology found such a place for the company to grow both physically and technologically.

"One of the major reasons for InTechnology to relocate our head office from the hustle and bustle of St Kilda Road in Melbourne to Varsity Lakes was the technology infrastructure that was available to us to allow our company communicate at a fast speed and cost effectively," Winter said. "One of the things that the developers have done on the Gold Coast is look at what business needs - not just today but three and five years down the track."

The greenfield business park of Varsity Lakes offered InTechnology - and all other business within the precinct - a full suite of managed and unmanaged ICT services, provided by Silver Connect, a national, fibre optic broadband network provider.

"The Silver service offered InTechnology reduced data transfer costs, VoIP that is charged at local call rates, and LAN calls are entirely free of charge," he said. "This precinct will also offer, within the next 12 months, wireless Internet access with free data costs back to your office network."

One of the advantages Winter sees with the development of 'greenfield' business parks is that they are starting to offer managed solutions to the tenants.

"As a business owner, it makes sense to have an expert managing this for me as opposed to having staff looking after this," he said. "Gone are the days when developers are just offering a shell within a new building."

With the onset of VoIP in 2004, the office of 2005 will treat phone and network cabling as one in the same.

"With the cost savings of VoIP, every greenfield estate will be offering this as a managed service and the requirements for separate phone and data will subside," Winter said. "Varsity Lakes tenants are offered a fully managed VoIP solution."

Then, of course, there is wireless. Although many enterprises are still cautious about the technology, Winter says at some stage it will replace wired connectivity within the office.

"Our head office policy is 99 percent wireless," he said. "There are major IT vendors and organizations that are 100 percent wireless. The only portion of our network that is hard wired is the connectivity between our servers within our data centre."

With all this reliance on the data network, fully redundant connections from the premises are expected in the office of 2005, and seen as essential.

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