Issue No.10 - October (2008 vol.9)
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
Luis Miguel Contreras Murillo , Universidad Carlos III, Madrid, Spain
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/MDSO.2008.36
A review of Next-Generation Network Services by Robert Wood
Next-Generation Network Services
Cisco Press, 2005
Advances in packet-switching and transmission technologies in the past 10 years have changed the face of IP-based data networks. Multimedia applications (video streaming, online gaming, and so on), social networks, and file-sharing have steadily increased the number of end users and, subsequently, the bandwidth they require to meet their application demands. Service providers are building IP-based multiservice networks for supporting the residential and corporate markets by using a common infrastructure to carry traffic and creating synergies and cost efficiency in terms of capital and operational expenditures. These markets will demand more from the new services in terms of quality of service, personalization, and accessibility.
Next-Generation Network Services by Robert Wood describes the network components that will enable next-generation services, rather than the services themselves. The book covers wired and wireless access and core networks, including insights into layers 2 and 3, on which networks are built. Three chapters (IP, multiservice, and virtual private networks) relate mainly to the core network infrastructure. Chapters on optical networking technologies and metropolitan and long-haul optical networks present the landscape of the transmission technology that actually supports the deployment of data networks.
The book covers services in just one chapter devoted to virtual private networks, which are presented as the transport services of other services above them. The network components that the book does cover (elements, technologies, and architectures) can be categorized as part of near-generation rather than next-generation networks. I would have liked to see the book cover topics such as IP multimedia subsystem, fiber-to-the-home, Unlicensed Mobile Access, High Speed Downlink Packet Access, IP-based television that would more properly fit into the next-generation networks category.
Wood presents the technical information in a light manner, introducing the most relevant characteristics of protocols, technologies, and architectures without going into deeper analysis. Thus, the book is ideal for technical managers or network engineers who require a brief overview of a certain aspect of next-generation networks without getting lost in the details. The book doesn't aim to provide a technical background for newcomers to networking, so it isn't appropriate for undergraduates who don't have previous experience in the field. Furthermore, each chapter contains several references, but they aren't clearly cited in the text. Neither requests for comments nor standard identifiers are common in the text.
The book is also very Cisco-oriented—it uses Cisco devices in examples to solve problems in each chapter. This makes it difficult to know if the solution presented is proprietary, or if other, non-Cisco solutions are just as valid. Even the vast majority of references at the end of each chapter are Cisco documents. A more neutral, vendor agnostic book presenting more than one alternative would be more useful to open readers' minds and highlight the pros and cons of the proposed solutions. Additionally, a more suitable chapter structure would consist of discussion of a topic, with addenda explaining vendor-specific approaches.
A strong point of Wood's book is to couple the data and transmission layers in the same text-which are usually treated separately, despite the fact that they're very tightly connected in real deployments and mutually constrain each other—in terms of network rollout, planning (topology and reliability), and engineering. The book introduces optical networks very well, complementing the pure router-oriented view common in networking literature.
Also, each chapter includes a chart that contains the business drivers, success factors, technology applications, and service-value analysis of each topic. The schematic places each topic in a business context, providing useful business views.
The book is a good reference for IT managers and senior engineers who look at current and near-future network scenarios that bind data and transmission networks. It should be used with other sources for a complete overview, however, because it is too Cisco-oriented.
Luis Miguel Contreras Murillo is a network planning engineer at Orange Spain, as well as Adjunct Lecturer in the Telematics Department at the Universidad Carlos III, Madrid, Spain. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.