The retrofitting of IP with the quality-of-service features enjoyed by other protocols will be one of the big trends in networking this year, according to Datacraft's Nick Joliffe.
The payoff, he says, will be more cost-efficient use of bandwidth for corporate users, and the enabling of more business-critical applications across the Internet - including voice over IP and VPNs.
Datacraft is already pitching one product range, PacketShaper from US company Packeteer, to both corporates and ISPs in this country, and Joliffe expects ISPs to use such bandwidth management products to expand their business offerings.
"I think you'll see ISPs as applications brokers to a greater extent than before. You can already see it with [Australian ISP] Access One, which runs a Domino server with specific Domino applications for the use of their customers.
"I'd expect to see ISPs offering, say, IS0 9000 certification systems, sales systems, DIY intranets - and even something like SAP from your ISP."
Differential ISP tariffs for different levels of service guarantee will be in place
in the New Zealand market within six months, he says.
Joliffe says PacketShaper is more efficient than management through router policy, "which doesn't help optimise bandwidth and only acts on what you already know about your traffic" and the "one-way, user-based" features of firewalls.
The PacketShaper Software works by getting inside IP packets and making changes to the transport layer. Guaranteed rates and priority levels can be set for different kinds of traffic - from business applications, which need guaranteed bandwidth, to HTML files, which need a quick download, and low-priority push traffic, which is fitted into bandwidth when available. It can configured from a Web browser.
The clincher for business may be the opportunity offered by bandwidth management tools to add services such as voice over IP, which, says Joliffe, provided the key in two large ATM rollouts in which his company has been involved in recent months. "Data was not the key driver in those projects. It was the technical driver, but the business driver was voice over IP - that's what made it affordable."