Web 2.0 causing extra strain on telcos

Operators have to cope with added strain placed on them by Web 2.0 sites, and extra-large bandwidth networks will not alleviate the situation, says Citrix.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

Web 2.0 sites are causing new strain for telcos, according to a Citrix Systems top exec.

Klaus Oestermann, group vice president, Citrix Systems, said such sites, which typically include social networking and blogging sites, tend to carry rich features which update the page's contents without requiring the user to refresh it.

These features make Web 2.0 "much more taxing" to a telco's IT backend infrastructure, requiring a continuous flow of information streamed, compared to plain "1.0" sites which "only require one response to one [server] request", Oestermann told ZDNet Asia in an interview.

Web apps found on Web 2.0 sites require a one-to-one user connection to backend servers for extended periods, thereby taxing resources, he said.

And telcos are feeling the strain placed upon them by the increasing proliferation of Web 2.0 sites, said Oestermann.

While operators may be happy to see the extra revenue coming in from selling bandwidth, coping with the strain is not a simple task. For example, in the Asia-Pacific region, telcos pulling content from popular Western sites such as YouTube need to decide which videos are to be cached locally, to deliver them to users faster.

Oestermann explained videos generally fall into the few which are downloaded by millions, and the "long tail"--the millions that are only seen by a few users. Telcos need to sift out which to cache, he said.

To solve the one-to-one connection inefficiency, telcos can rely on application delivery controllers to offload the strain on Web servers, cutting server costs at the bottom line, he said.

He added that the availability of greater bandwidth through a next-generation broadband network wouldn't alleviate the problem, but worsen the strain through heightened user demand for bandwidth.

"If people have more bandwidth, they will make even more requests, and that will cause greater strain... The fundamental backend problem is still there," he said.

And as bandwidth starts becoming ubiquitous, telcos' "core business" will disappear over time. They have to move up a level to providing "value-added" products such as Web services, in order to differentiate, Oestermann advised.

"One of the benefits [of a telco providing Web services] is that they already have most [enterprise] customers already signed on," he said.

Additionally, there is a market for localized content in the Asia-Pacific region, especially in non-English-speaking countries, Oestermann added. "In countries like Thailand and China, you still have the usual Google and YouTube...on the list of most popular sites, but you're also seeing local services popping up."

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