The Internet of tomorrow will be powered by changes taking place today in computing, communications and software.
Computing: The first trend is Moore’s law, which continues to power the rapid progress in semiconductor development. Each new chip doubles in power every 18 months. This has led to an exponential increase in processing power (coupled with falling costs) in the past three decades and is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. The second trend is the increasing proliferation of non-PC devices. Cellphones and PDAs are at the forefront of the race to create smaller but powerful devices which are truly “personal”. The third trend is that of embedded computing. An embedded processor does one task with a larger machine. From cars to elevators, embedded computers are today everywhere. Over 1.6 billion embedded microprocessors are reported to have been shipped.
Communications: The first trend is Gilder’s Law which holds that bandwidth increases exponentially – doubling every 6-9 months. This is being largely driven by fibre optics. Undersea cables with huge capacities now circle the globe. Adding new bandwidth means lighting up more fibre. The second trend is Wireless. GSM and CDMA networks connect a billion cellphones into the telecom network.
Broadband wireless is also becoming a reality to bridge the “last mile”. To bring the connection to the “last few feet” are emerging protocols like Bluetooth, and 802.11b (Wi-Fi) and 802.11a. The third trend is the building of the farms of the technology age – Data Centres. These data farms make technology a utility – offering computing and applications on demand.
Software: The first trend is that of Web Services – software becoming a service. Instead of paying large upfront licencing costs, software will increasingly become available as a utility service in the network “cloud”. Components from different vendors can be assembled on the fly from across the network through standards such as XML, SOAP, WSDL and UDDI. XML allows data to be exchanged, SOAP provides the wrapper for exchanging data, WSDL is the language to describe web services while UDDI provides the directory to locate web services on the Internet. The second trend is open-source, where developers work worldwide on projects which are in the public domain, and can be extended by anyone. Linux and the Apache web server are two examples of open-source software. The third trend is the creation of zero-defect software. Software is at the heart of real-time applications and mission-critical. At the same time, it has become increasingly complex. Yet, it simply cannot fail.
These are the trends which serve as the foundation for the creation of the Internet of tomorrow.