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Trends: Network Performance

In this column, we identify several computing industry trends and then examine the implications of each for the CM industry. In our first two columns, we looked at how the changes in disk capacity and disk performance affect version control. In future columns, we'll take a look at CPU speeds and multi-core systems, and more. This month, we address networking trends and implications.


Network performance has increased dramatically. My personal networking experience started with a 1200 baud modem and now includes a 1 GB LAN. It will get faster too with the recent approval of 100 GB standards! In addition, networking is more and more encompassing what used to be distinct forms of communication: IP Telephone and FAXs (how long do you expect FAX machines to survive?), downloadable and streaming video and TV, on-line storage and backups, remote desktops, cloud applications, etc. All these involve communication, and all are part of the IP network today.

Network changes also impact version control. Perhaps the most tangible immediate effects are improved bandwidth and reduced and more consistent latency. Faster bandwidth helps all users, but most especially those who are remote and those with very large data sets. And less and more consistent latency helps deliver a more consistent user experience. We also note that as bandwidth increases, latency becomes relatively more limiting, requiring greater emphasis on protocol design. Greater bandwidth can also impact decisions to compress or not compress a data stream.

Perhaps less obvious is that greater bandwidth promotes greater bandwidth using content. Things that were impractical to version now become thinkable. After all, we can all think of things that simply weren't practical a few years ago, but which are now routine. This trend will continue as even greater bandwidth enables applications hardly imagined today. Networked gaming today is all the rage, but communications bandwidth limits the possibilities. Could full 3D virtual reality environments (and much greater bandwidth) replace the hand-held consoles of today? And what about versioning related content?

A less obvious impact of faster networking is a change in expectations. Not only *can* my teens access content which until recently was impractical, they *assume* such assess. They think nothing of streaming their favorite TV show over the net and are clueless to the impact and limits of such streaming (and perhaps such awareness should be relegated to the techies among us), except for their frustration when their show pauses waiting for the stream. What expectations will tomorrow's content creators have on version control?

Benefits Today

What can we do today in version control because of the bandwidth available? What new paradigms are enabled? Send me your thoughts...

Stay tuned as we continue this series next time!