W3C Workshop on Internationalization - Cisco Systems Inc. Position Statement : IT Infrastructure Globalization.


Garrey G Learmonth BEng (Hons) AMIEE, IT Architect, Internet Architecture Group, Cisco Systems Inc.




IT Infrastructure : The hardware, software and other resources necessary to provide and grow cost effective business solutions across the enterprise. The infrastructure can be considered as comprising components such as network links, elements managers (routers, switches etc), servers, middleware and clients. Also included are peripheral and supporting components such as development, testing and training.

Globalization : = Internationalization + Localization. Enabling the delivery of technology products and services that meet or exceed customer expectations regardless of geographical location and language.


Most organisations when dealing with 'globalizing' their IT capabilities focus mainly on internationalization, localization and translation issues relating to end user applications. There are of course many vendors and solutions available in this space and the technology is well understood and maturing rapidly.

What is less well understood but equally important is the ability of the IT Infrastructure to function optimally in the global arena, regardless of bandwidth restrictions, hop length, languages, time zones, regulatory constraints etc.

An IT Infrastructure that is inherently ready for the global market is obviously at an immediate competitive advantage since integration, security and performance issues with deploying new databases, applications and mobile/wireless services anywhere in the world are immediately minimized if not mitigated completely.

As far as can be determined from initial investigations by Cisco Systems, no industrial or academic effort to address this area of globalization is currently under way although many organizations that were contacted and propositioned were fully in agreement that this was a valid and worthwhile endeavor.

Problem domain

There are many standards and technologies for building IT Infrastructure components such as networks, servers and applications, to address security, usability and performance.

When it comes to globalization issues however, these are generally ignored or treated as an afterthought. Each specific area within globalization is usually treated in isolation and generally relating only to applications, e.g. localization, usability and translation needs.

There are few if any standard methodologies, technologies or tools available that are specifically aimed at ensuring and end-end infrastructure is truly global in capability whether it be at the network level to ensure optimal bandwidth in remote regions, character set conversion at the middleware level or at the database level to ensure read consistency on geographically disparate databases without high latency. Each infrastructure component is interdependent on others to some degree and is thus potentially at risk from non-global conformance issues.

Also in short supply are any reliable metrics on what organizations are leading the field in the above areas and what areas are more difficult to address than others.

For example :

In addition to the above there are the associated support, testing and deployment challenges with developing a truly global infrastructure.

Areas of research

From the above discussion some areas of research that Cisco is currently investigating and seek assistance in are :

Future vision

The ultimate goal for Cisco as an organization is to establish a framework for an IT Infrastructure that allows applications and data to be delivered anywhere in the world without sacrificing performance, usability, security and in any language that the user and/or business community demands. When Cisco finally masters this highly heterogeneous set of challenges within it's own IT Infrastructure it will be uniquely positioned to offer unrivalled global capabilities and expertise to it's customers. This will also benefit the IT community as a whole since in the process it will undoubtedly be necessary establish new open standards, technologies and tools to address some of the challenges described as well as finding innovative ways to apply existing ones.

Any IT organization that has a thorough understanding of the total globalization problem in terms of the issues described in this paper and the technologies, tools and solutions required to address them is inevitably a far more effective and productive organization. The challenges are many and not just technological, there is a big culture gap in most IT departments when it comes to thinking 'globally' and management need to take the lead in such ventures through appropriate empowerment and promotion of the required training and education.

In addition globalization by it's nature requires a structured and methodical approach using proven standards and tools such as RUP and UML to devise the most practical and cost effective solutions, something that even putting globalization aside, the IT industry is still struggling with. Mastering globalization however thus presents an opportunity for IT departments to get their house in order with real tangible benefits commercially from dealing more effectively with the ever expanding markets in Asia and the Pacific Rim for example.


What Cisco is seeking from this workshop is the following :

Cisco has a lot to offer in terms of practical experience in the world marketplace and the challenges in deploying IT in various theaters. In addition there are considerable technical skills on tap within Cisco that can be channeled to address the challenges described and work with suitable partners.

W3C Workshop on Internationalization - Cisco Systems Inc. Position Statement : IT Infrastructure Globalization.