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April 10, 2008 11:55 AM

LUS Fiber Already Having An Impact

One of the biggest challenges with broadband deployment is balancing public and private interests. Private companies are interested in profit, not necessarily what’s good for the public. The decisions they make about where and how much to invest in their capacity to deliver better service do not always reflect local interests.

That was the case here in Lafayette. The people of this town saw the incumbents investing in New Orleans and Baton Rouge to bring bigger, better broadband and TV services but not Lafayette. When Lafayette began pushing for better service they were told they didn’t need it. I’ve learned in my short time here that the best way to get a Cajun to do something is tell them they don’t want it or can’t have it, and thus LUS Fiber was born.

One of the more remarkable things that has happened as a result of of this decision is that new investment into Lafayette’s broadband ecosystem has already begun flowing into the community and they haven’t even lit up their first customer yet.

Case in point, since announcing the LUS Fiber project, Cox Communications, the incumbent cable company, has upgraded its infrastructure in a significant way, building a brand new $15 million facility and installing more fiber into their network. In talking with people it seems like these upgrades have had a significant impact on improving the picture quality of their TV service and it’s allowed Cox to offer more HD channels.

Additionally during a pair of luncheon addresses by Cox at TechSouth, where they were the top sponsor, they itemized the investments they’ve been making in the community, like a new community computer center and other local programs.

So simply the threat of muni-fiber has spurred the incumbent cable company to get off the sidelines and start investing more heavily in Lafayette.

But this is about far more than cajoling the incumbents to start investing; it’s about bringing new opportunity to Lafayette to further its capacity as a 21st century community.

Perhaps the most impressive example of this was unveiled on the show floor by Abacus Marketing Resources: the first deployment of Liquid Computing’s fabric computing solution with a broadband services provider in the country in the Abacus Data Exchange. Let’s try to put the significance of this into perspective.

Abacus is an innovative and advanced wholesaler of business-class access to LUS’s fiber network. With the opening of their Data Exchange powered by fabric computing they’ll be offering a wide range of business continuity services as well as tremendous opportunities for applications developers and anyone in need of storage.

I mentioned that this is the first deployment of Liquid’s fabric computing solution with a broadband services provider. Before now their system was only in use as super-powerful data crunchers in government agencies and a few private companies.

To give a sense for how much power they have, at LITE (the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise, which I wrote about here) they have a data center in a fairly large room stuffed with racks of servers supplying the massive computing power 3D visualization demands. In talking with one of their tech gurus, who was being introduced to the technology at Abacus’s booth, I learned that with fabric computing he’d be able to replace almost that entire room full of racks with only three of Liquid’s setups, which would roughly take up two refrigerators’ worth of space.

In addition to computing power, the Liquid system is also conscious of its power consumption. I didn’t get any specific numbers regarding savings but I do know that Abacus was seeking out the most eco-friendly solution on the market and that was one big reason for why they chose Liquid.

But ultimately what I found most compelling about the solution is that unlike traditional arrangements where setting up a server to host your storage or application can take time and changing the characteristics, capacity, and performance of that server just doesn’t happen easily, what fabric computing allows you to do is essentially create servers with the specs you need for whatever applications you have on-the-fly. That means you can access computing power and storage as you need it, even if it’s only for a limited time, like when running trials for some new software.

At this time I won’t even attempt to explain how they pull this off as I’m going to be profiling their solution in greater depth later this month. In the meantime, I can report that despite the fact there were at least five other exhibitors offering some form of business continuity services, all of the buzz and a constant stream of people were around Abacus’s booth.

And even more exciting is how this investment has inspired the local tech community. I can not tell you how wide the eyes are of many of those who walked away from Abacus’s booth. In particular some of the younger innovators specifically talked about how they never thought that they’d have access to this much power in their own backyard, suggesting that this investment will help encourage local talent to stay local when they set out to create the next Google.

They understand that by combining this computing power with the connectivity of LUS’s full fiber project Lafayette tops any other city in the state and arguably the entire country. And because of this combination, I see great things in Lafayette’s future as a hub of innovation in the development of broadband applications.

The thing is, without LUS Fiber, there is no Abacus and therefore no Liquid fabric computing bringing new opportunity. Without LUS Fiber, there’s almost certainly less buy-in from Cox to invest aggressively in the community.

So already, before the first customer is lit up, LUS Fiber is having an impact, spurring investment, and improving the opportunities for this community’s broadband ecosystem as one of the greatest in the nation.

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Comments (1)

Hi from ULL!

It was so good to meet you at TechSouth yesterday. I really enjoyed the discussion about fiber, and am even more proud of my adopted hometown knowing that we're so cutting edge. I'm so inspired now that I'm going to have to figure out how to work fiber into my IT Management class I'm taking this summer. I might even address the Telemedicine issue...

Thanks again for a fabulous discussion, and once I figure out which classmate you spoke to, I'll direct him here so he can see how famous he now is.


Posted by Elizabeth Lamond on April 10, 2008 3:01 PM

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