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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

WebEx : From Four Nines To Five Nines

WebEx is on the move these days. Recently the company's productWebEx SMARTtech Won the Product of the Year award from Customer Inter@ction Solutions magazine.WebEx SMARTtech is an on-demand application that enables support organizations to access and manage a network of remote computers without costly hardware or additional software infrastructure. Systems on the network can be securely accessed, serviced and maintained from a Web browser, anywhere in the world.
In an interview with Dan Fafrber, WebEx CEO Subrah Iyer provides glimpse into WebEx plans for improving service further. Excerpts with edits and comments added:

Fundamentally, WebEx is an software-as-a-service company that requires super-high availability infrastruture for enabling real-time communications -just like a telco, which is the source of the five-nines concept: Dial-tone is always there. The company has built its own global distributed information-switching network for delivering of multimedia communications, specifically for Web-based meetings and conferencing. With more than a 60 percent share of the meeting and Web conferencing market, WebEx is doing just fine, but quality of service remains an issue. Subrah said that WebEx has achieved four-nines (which amounts to less than an hour of downtime per year), but getting to the 99.999-level would take another five years. He cited the sometimes erratic behavior of the Internet's physical network and having to deal with different proxy servers, video cards, firewalls, instant messengers and content formats as contributors to the "complexity" problem. The wide variety of devices also adds to the complexity. The industry is moving to more standardization, which should help alleviate some of the complexity, and the network of networks is becoming more resilient. What we really want is to have all IP-based communications-VoIP, meetings, IM, etc.--available on any device, from laptop to palmtop, and free of any incompatible, proprietary schemes that prevent access.
In the age of digital convergence, we haev to see how WebEx transforms itself when the specialised service it offers become more commonly available or as digital technologies become more avaialable, WebEx would come out more powerful specialised applications. WebEx 's on demand success with SMARTech is an interesting start in this direction.

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