According to a recent Reuters article, "As more people access the Internet over mobile phone networks using laptops with 3G cards, Apple's iPhone or Research in Motion's Blackberry, data traffic is doubling every six months globally and growing even more rapidly in some countries." This assertion seems to have legs. I recently visited a large mobile provider in Asia. During our conversation, the head of platform services held up his phone and said "These devices are our biggest challenge today. Our goal is to stay ahead of the data (bandwidth) demand and that is a real challenge". Here in the United States, a large service provider expressed similar sentiments when describing the ongoing challenges in providing the users a consistent highly responsive internet experience.
With 4G (WiMax & LTE) on the horizon, there is little doubt that high speed wireless broadband will complete the last mile when it comes to living in an always "on" world. Imagine being connected from any device, anywhere, all of the time. But being connected is not enough. Meaningful data must flow through the pipes to consumers. So it begs the question; in the 40 years of the Internet and 16 years of the World Wide Web how far have we come?
Netcraft, the internet research company, counted over 226 million active websites as of September 2009 with about 1 million providing secure (SSL) pages. The world of smart-phones boasts more than 85,000 applications and has surpassed 1.5 billion downloads in the last 18 months. We are at the dawn of an era where the financial cost to create, market and distribute products and services is falling rapidly. The Internet is the vehicle and the world wide web the fuel driving this cycle of innovation.
How much entertainment, information and communication can we experience via the web and Internet today? Are we truly on the cusp of utilizing the Internet for everything, anytime and anywhere? Can we leap into the Clouds where we install little to no software, have access to everything and own very little storage for the content we create? The only way to measure where we are is to immerse daily life into the web. Make the shift from paper to pixels, from ink to the Internet and from broadcast to bits. Can we shed "traditions" and effectively live with Browsers on Desktops and Applets on Smart-phones? If so, the requirements for security, availability, bandwidth, WAN/WOC optimization, scalable networks and dynamic resources becomes clearer.
So, begins a journey to get my feet off of the ground and my head into the Clouds. From this point forward, I'm testing the limits of the Clouds by leveraging them as much as possible. Armed with my browsers (IE, Firefox and Safari), Desktop applets, my iPhone with pages of applets and a Internet appliance replacing my cable box, I'm moving to higher ground. Over the next several Blogs, I'll report on the triumphs, challenges, discoveries and benefits experienced when using Internet alternatives for information, entertainment, transactions and communication. To officially kick-off this process, I've written this very blog in the Cloud using Zoho Writer (www.zoho.com). Within my Firefox browser, I've securely launched an MS Word compatible application, written, saved and shared this from the cloud. From my phone I have access to the same documents to view and share. No worries about backup, or if the document is on my machine, or if the software will run on my laptop.
There are millions of internet applications out there and the collection grows daily. The question is, are they ready for us? More importantly, are the networks, compute and storage resources ready for us? Can I truly eliminate papers, magazines, books, CDs, DVDs radio, cable, etc? Can my smart-phone become a digital information hub? We're about to find out. Hum, I wonder what's streaming on Hulu tonight?