B2B alive and peering

Do you remember e-commerce? Sure you do -- it died a death when the dot-com bubble burst back in ought-ought or something. It came with all the really cool abbreviations and acronyms we've learned to snort at: B2B, B2C, B2E, ERP, KBE.

Do you remember e-commerce? Sure you do -- it died a death when the dot-com bubble burst back in ought-ought or something. It came with all the really cool abbreviations and acronyms we've learned to snort at: B2B, B2C, B2E, ERP, KBE.

Fortunes were made and lost by those touting the web as the ultimate marketing solution. Oh yes, there was marketing involved. Branding was bandied about a lot as well, if I remember correctly. It's all something of a cyberspatial blur to me now.

The one thing that always made sense to me through the whole carry-on was the idea of business-to-business (B2B) communication, because it existed long before the internet. Electronic document interchange (EDI), involving dedicated links between companies to transfer information, has been around longer than I have, and the internet only confirmed its usefulness. The reason? Businesses that have regular dealings with other businesses should connect their systems electronically so as to avoid having to each enter the same information.

B2B has another name these days: peer to peer, or P2P. Napster may have been about university students copying music but the principle is exactly the same. Making life easier through simplicity.

Which is why B2B is alive and well and living in Wellington, of all places.

Wellington? Yes, because that's where network provider CityLink is at its strongest; and if there's one thing CityLink is offering it's this "business Napster" ability to connect businesses together easily cheaply and quickly.

CityLink was set up by the city council to promote business growth. It does that by introducing customers to each other and then getting the hell out of the way. In effect, it's a model where peers get to deal with each other directly rather than dealing with the telco in the middle.

Anyone can connect using CityLink's network. Most of CityLink's customers aren't even ISPs or telcos. I could, if I so wanted and had the cash spare, connect myself to CityLink's network and do what I want over it. I could connect to other interests that use the network. I could send them terabytes of data and they could send me Morse code dots and dashes of light if we so chose and CityLink wouldn't give a hoot because it doesn't care what you use the connection for. You pay for it, you use it. They don't want to or even need to know.

It's the complete opposite of the full service model pushed by most telcos, who will happily tell you what you can and cannot do with your connection. P2P file sharing? Can't do it, sorry. VPN over DSL? Need a different product, I'm afraid. CityLink is running the dumb network we hear so much about these days and frankly I'm all for it. Looking at its numbers I'd say a large number of you are saying the same thing.

Brislen is IDGNet’s reporter. Send letters for publication in Computerworld to Computerworld Letters.

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