The local time in Bagram, Afghanistan was 7:00 p.m., and one of my closest friends, who is a captain in the US Army, was taking a quick break from his night shift when I got the call. His voice was crystal clear, and our conversation ran uninterrupted.
We talked technology, how he was doing, and some of the things he was working on. Earlier in the week, we exchanged emails and shared pictures via Facebook. We also had the chance to chat live for some time and exchange ideas and news from our respective corners of the world.
After our conversation, I realized how far communication technology has come in such a short time. Just a few years ago, this type of conversation would have been much more difficult. The fact that we can now chat, Skype, and share pictures and videos over long distances is pretty amazing.
What happened? I’ll break it down.
- WAN Technologies. Site-to-site replication, better connectivity points, and more WAN optimization have all helped to increase our abilities to distribute data. We are now able to control protocols, place emphasis around specific workloads, and better monitor global data distribution at an absolute granular level.
Our ability to create dedicated networks spanning the globe has truly improved over the past few years. Now, direct communication links can be set up between globally distributed datacenters utilizing high-bandwidth private lines.
- Unified Communications. Telephony and general communications have really advanced. Today, we can deploy IP telephony as well as unified communications tools, which allow for high-speed, secure video/voice conferencing all over the world. New types of virtual and physical branch exchanges can be deployed within secured datacenters to facilitate an even greater amount of communications capabilities.
- More Bandwidth. Now that we have the backbone to support it all, fiber networks have been growing extremely rapidly. This means more bandwidth is becoming available all over the world. Private links between datacenters can be set up to use massive amounts of uninterrupted bandwidth. Everything from cellular technology to datacenter connections has become more powerful.
- More Datacenter Resources. As the global infrastructure continues to expand, more resources will become available at those sites. This includes extremely remote locations like Bagram. High-density equipment has already been deployed onsite, where massive chassis and blade environments are capable of providing large amounts of throughput, resources, and computing power. These datacenters are then securely connected to other global sites to facilitate communications and data distribution.
These are four technologies that have played a big role in our ability to utilize everyday communications to explore the world. Of course, there are many other tools on the drawing board that will help us connect more easily in the future. But for our troops overseas who live in a world of uncertainty, the simple things they already have at their disposal through Facebook, Skype, and Gmail is a priceless gift.
They can now "conquer" distance and hold friends and loved ones near. And by being able to keep a little piece of home with them while they are far away, they'll have that much more to look forward to when they return.
As a technologist and friend, it’s nice to know that I’m not only helping corporations, I’m also helping people.