Author: Yogi Schulz
The Internet has already enabled major gains in business productivity. Have we achieved most of the available benefits from the Internet or are there fascinating new developments just over the horizon? The future of the Internet offers more than we might think.
Security will improve
The weak Internet security of today stems from various historical factors and from the difficulties of operating a widely-shared facility. We’re all irritated and frustrated by the disruption of hacker attacks, the annoyance of spyware and the avalanche of spam. These distractions cost businesses real money to build and operate security defenses while undermining the productivity benefits of the Internet. The Wild West lawlessness of today’s Internet allows total freedom to be irresponsible.
In the future, security will improve through mandatory biometric identification of individuals by fingerprint, palm vein or iris patterns. We will see more widespread use of identification gadgets like SecurId and Smart Cards. Today’s irresponsibility will be reined in.
Better security will cause some to fret about the loss of anonymity while others will be grateful that spammers and hackers have been contained.
Internet access will be ubiquitous
Internet access is now widespread with many annoying gaps in coverage. During some periods of the day, response times vary significantly due to traffic congestion. Today’s inability of WiFi hot spots and cell phone networks to interoperate adds to the perception of gaps.
In the future, Cable/ADSL coverage will improve to offer most homes and businesses high-speed access to the Internet. We’ll see Internet 2 become commercially available. Internet 2 will handle higher traffic volumes and offer improved network management to improve performance. A little later, WiFi hot spots will become faster and offer much wider range. Improved network management software will ensure that voice and data connections to the Internet can be easily handed off between WiFi and cell phones and back again.
Everywhere Internet access will cause some to lament the inability to get away from it all while others will enjoy the seamless access information and friends.
Web Services will connect organizations
Today’s Internet is largely about humans communicating through computers. In the future the ability of computers to communicate with each other to conduct business will become commonplace. For example, today businesses issue purchase orders to buy products or send order confirmations to communicate the status of orders. Soon such unstructured documents will be replaced with tightly structured computer files based on a descriptive standard called XML.
In the future, companies will use software called mobile agents that scour the web sites of suppliers looking for specific products, low prices and optimal delivery times. The success of such electronic shopping depends on businesses agreeing on standards that define the structure of searches and product descriptions. Collectively, these standards are called Web Services.
Through Web Services many organizations will appreciate becoming electronically aware of supply and sales opportunities that were unknown to them. Others will miss the supplier lunches and golf games that will become obsolete.
IT products will morph into services
Today, when we want a new computer, we buy it. When we need more software, we license it. In the future, instead of buying more and more hardware, we may choose to connect through the Internet to a remote server to use computing capacity. Also, instead of licensing more software, we may choose to rent use of it through the Internet by the month.
Major hardware vendors like HP, IBM and Sun are beginning to offer remote access to large clusters and grids of servers. Customers find this attractive because they don’t have to own and operate a data center. Customers also push the cost of having to build for peak computing demand to the vendor.
Already some software vendors are changing their license terms from high upfront fees to annual license fees. Over the typical life of a license, the software vendor receives more revenue and the buyer avoids the high upfront cost and receives regular updates. Microsoft offers Office and Sun Microsystems offers the Java Enterprise System using these terms. Check out salesforce.com for a similar idea.
As hardware and software morph into services, the management of the computing infrastructure, that consumes considerable attention in businesses today, will become much simpler.
The future of the Internet will bring many advances in security, performance and access to data and applications. The end is not in sight.