“If only I didn’t have so many meetings; I could get my work done during the day” - sound familiar? If you are like me, you often dig into a pile of work around 5pm, following a day of back-to-back meetings with a range of people, who are based at a range of locations. On an average day I’ll have at least one conference call with a colleague based in another country, an on-line project team meeting with attendees spanning Colorado, California and the UK, an agency briefing which could be with a team in San Francisco, the South of England or Singapore and a couple of face-to-face local team meetings (remember those?). With collaboration tools like Microsoft Lync, we can now spend our days in multiple time zones with colleagues around the globe sharing rich media video and graphic content visuals, while reviewing project development plans or brainstorming new business ideas.
And that’s just in the office. Our personal lives are equally dependent on similar technologies to tie our worlds together. My daughter spent her university fall semester studying in the Czech Republic. Our lifeline between Prague and California was a constant series of Face Time conversations, Viber calls, text messages and Photo Stream updates.
Now multiply my daughter, my business colleagues and me by the legions of mobile students, parents and business associates around the world and consider the data traffic generated on any given day. We know that the virtualized cloud data centers responsible for processing that traffic, as well as the WAN infrastructure tasked with interconnecting the long distance runs, have been highly optimized over the last few years. But all of that data center and WAN optimization can be lost in the last link to the user if the local area campus network is not equipped to deliver the information with the correct quality levels in a timely fashion. I can speak from experience that many of those Prague Viber audio calls suffered from a spotty wireless connection in my daughter’s Czech dormitory. Following her off-hand comment one evening of “we’re all heading to Budapest for the weekend”, the line went dead before I even had a chance to question the travel arrangements or complete my normal safety check interrogation. We all know the frustration associated with an untimely loss of communication just as we are reaching a deal closure, business decision or video ending. In the case of Microsoft Lync collaborative meetings, the guide Deploying Brocade Networks with Microsoft Lync Server 2010 covers many of the possible pitfalls that the IT staff can address in advance to avoid those nagging user complaint calls associated with lost productivity.
All of this points to just how critical the campus network has become as the last link to the application user. It’s our lifeline and without it, those vital messages, photos or videos might stay up in the cloud just outside of our grasp. And then just think how much catch up work we would need to do after hours.