By Patricia Daukantas
Greetings from San Diego! For the first time since 1999, the Optical Fiber Communication Conference is taking place in this sunny Southern California city. It's my first-ever visit to San Diego, so I'm doubly excited to be here.
If I had to summarize this year's OFC theme in as few words as possible, it would be "big pipes." Everyone is talking about the latest high-bandwidth communications technologies that the worldwide growth of the Internet is demanding. People are also realizing that it's important to consider not just the size of the datastream—Gigabit Ethernet, 100-Gigabit Ethernet, Terabit Ethernet, whatever—but also the proper management of it.
For example, yesterday afternoon's Future Internet Symposium sought to give the fiber-optics folks who attend OFC/NFOEC the perspective of experts in computer network architecture and computer security. Guru Parulkar of Stanford University's Clean Slate Program said that the present-day Internet is not designed to take full advantage of the dynamic optical network technology that researchers who attend OFC are developing. Adel Saleh of the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency, the organization that gave us the predecessor to the global Internet, said that DARPA is starting a 42-month study of ways to eliminate those bottlenecks. Computer-security expert Stefan Savage of the University of California at San Diego painted a bleak picture of the growth of money-making threats to network users and applications.
Headlining today's Service Provider Summit was Reed Hundt, who chaired the Federal Communications Commission in the mid-1990s. Despite the grim title of his talk—"The Coming Global Triumph of Communications and the Threat to American Standards of Living"—Hundt was surprisingly upbeat. The keys to America's success in growing IT and communications companies, he said, have been our stable legal environment, open networking technology and culture of entrepreneurial leadership. He would like to see the dynamism of the communications industry weave itself into the U.S. energy and health care sectors, which are low in venture capital and IT respectively. (Fascinating fact: Data centers consume 2 percent of all the electricity generated in the United States.)
OFC/NFOEC 2008 will wrap up on Thursday evening with the postdeadline paper sessions, which traditionally feature a number of results of "hero experiments" in fiber-optic technology. This year, 35 of 114 submissions were accepted, and I'm looking forward to attending the sessions.
2008-02 February, Information technology, OFC/NFOEC