IBM Throws Support Behind Networking Enhancements

In a move that begins to further bring together the networking communications and IT industries, IBM has announced a series of initiatives and products designed to optimize use of technology such as the Internet and e-business solutions to enhance networking communications equipment and services.

IBM's Technology Group is responsible for developing several components of this plan to make IBM a major supplier of technology to the communications industry. These components include: a new family of programmable communications processors for networking products--like routers, hubs and switches; a Communications Research and Development Center; and encouragement for the development of new applications for communications processors by working with third-party companies to establish software standards.

"Demands on networks are exploding, but for network providers, offering higher speeds or new services often means replacing their equipment," says Christine King, VP of wired communications for IBM Microelectronics. "This is because much of the function of these boxes is provided by highly customized chips. By offering a more standardized set of chips with the flexibility to alter their function through software, we're making it possible for network providers to upgrade their equipment faster and easier."

In a related announcement that supports the enhancement of networking systems through the development of software, rather than the replacement of existing hardware, IBM and C-Port Corp. (North Andover, Mass.) plan to help manufacturers of communications equipment--i.e. routers and switches--enhance their products with a new class of "communications processors."

More specifically, the companies are expected to define standard application programming interfaces (APIs) that make it faster and easier to add new functions to networking systems through software.

"We firmly believe that the flexibility of communications processors is changing the networking industry, but we know that no one company can bring about that change alone," says Larry Walker, president and CEO of C-Port. "We're very pleased to be working with IBM's world-class team to advance open standards and to help our customers get to market more quickly with innovative networking solutions.

"Also, with IBM producing our C-5 DCP, we are confident we can offer our customers the highest quality products based on most advanced technology," Walker adds.

--L. Greenemeier