In a video blog this month, I briefly discussed the Fortieth anniversary of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the surface of the Moon, an incredible quest initiated by the U.S. when the Soviets launched the satellite Sputnik in 1958. By 1962, President Kennedy pushed the country upward when he stood before the students and faculty of Rice University and said “But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard...” In December 1968, Apollo 8 carried three men away from earth and around the moon ten times. During those orbits William Anders captured the image “Earthrise”. On July 20, 1969, with about 30 seconds of fuel remaining, the Lunar Lander named Eagle set down, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin aboard, in the Sea of Tranquility.
Sputnik however had sparked more than a race to the moon; it also ignited The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), a division within the US defense department chartered with pursuing advanced technology research for the United States. In the same year Neil Armstrong captivated the world; ARPA was also taking a small step and created ARPANET, the cornerstone of today's Internet. Like the Apollo program, ARPANET took several small steps (connecting computers, email, file transfer and Voice over IP) and along the way morphed into today's Internet. In 1991 CERN (those proton smashing folks) sponsored creation of a system to interlink hypertext documents also known as the World Wide Web (W3). The giant leap happened when CERN agreed to make W3 free to everyone in 1993. A year later, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was founded with support from DARPA and the European Commission. The combination of the expanding Internet and World Wide Web have unleashed a force greater than Apollo 11’s Saturn V rocket or The Large Hadron Collider that smashes protons together.
In the 18 years since CERN published the first web page announcing the World Wide Web project, we've seen a radical transformation in communication. W3 plus the Internet are akin to all mass media delivery systems the world has created since Gutenberg invented the printing press. Yet, with growing list of 80 million websites, it is well beyond the era of books, newspapers, magazines, over the air broadcasting, cable and the satellite systems that evolved over half a millennium. As we march towards the end of this decade, W3 is beginning to weave ordinary people into extraordinary events; spanning politics, entertainment and yes the Application Delivery team at Brocade.
When NightLine began broadcasting in March of 1980, Ted Koppel was our primary source for news on the Iranian hostage crisis. Koppel and company would inform the public about the hostages, politics and on occasion provide an “inside view” of Iranian culture. Thirty years later, in the aftermath of the Iranian National Election, FriendFeed and Twitter provided the insight while facilitating communication and coordinating activities within Iran. With traditional media having reporters expelled and silenced, social networks and micro-blogging displayed the power of today's ability publish and subscribe.
The death of Icon is a galvanizing event. However, in a twist on the Buggles song title “Video killed a Radio Star”, not only did we witness the demise of a Pop Star, we also observed the challenge pre-Web media faces. A story as large as any we've witnessed, broke on TMZ not NYT and spread like a wild fire on Twitter, Facebook and via Text messaging not CNN. Brick and mortar stores ran out of physical inventory while the unlimited digital shelves of online stores released millions of tracks breaking records. iTunes and Amazon reported sales records in real-time while Billboard made its announcement days after the records were broken. The anytime and anywhere abilities of the Cloud (W3 + Internet) enable concurrent communication and commerce. The power to be informed and interact now exists in the palm of your hand.
Everyday new stories appear. Now we can to insert our pages into a story even while “the moving finger writes”. The Wednesday after the July 4th holiday, news spread that 60,000 personal computers attacked Web sites run by private and government institutions in the United States and South Korea. The attacks, commonly referred to as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), are designed to render the sites under siege unavailable. Preventing DDoS attacks is one of the many features in Brocade's ServerIron application delivery platform. This breaking news was passed onto ServerIron product management, marketing and PR teams; they quickly reviewed the news stories, gathered the specifics and outlined how ServerIron would have thwarted those very attacks. Within twenty-four hours of the first DDoS news story breaking, Brocade had written, produced and published to the Web how ServerIron will help prevent these attacks in the future. In an instant we were woven into the fabric of the story and its solution.
As we celebrate the men and women who helped raise this nation to new heights, let’s remember, there were two small steps in 1969. One took us out of this world while the other has helped to change the world we are in.