My 4th grade daughters arrived home for the December break and told me (with enthusiasm!) they had projects to complete before the second week in January. "Oh?, what's involved in completing your projects?" I asked. " We have to write a research paper, build a display and present a summary of the paper to the class. I'm doing the Skeletal System and Deirdre is doing the Digestive System." Siobhan uttered those words without batting an eye while I nearly spit out my coffee. Nine year olds researching, writing papers, and presenting? So, over the holiday with keyboards in hand, displays in sight and armed with queries for Google, a pair of 4th graders started to research, write and tell me things about the human body I'd was better off not knowing about.
Our lives have rapidly moved beyond “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you.” and "You've got Mail!". Today, 4th graders can begin researching complex topics with questions like "What is the digestive system?" that return a list of sites containing text, images and sounds. It seems like a life time ago when we went to the library to use card catalogs, microfiche and stacks to research a topic. My daughters looked both perplexed and horrified when I explained that A) 4th graders didn't write research papers when I was their age and B) Google didn't exist. Their eyes glazed over when I explained how microfiche worked and the look of horror shifted to sympathy, for me. The Internet has made research so simple that even a 4th grader can do it. But, as with all things that look easy, a lot of work goes into making that research easily available. Unbeknownst to my daughters, the Internet is a contentious place.
Beyond the links deposited on screens by search engines is the content itself -- loads of it, all fighting for the same constricted network resources. Delivery of content is the only game playing today. Above the pipes that connect users to servers and servers to storage is Application Delivery. As the pipes shift from wired to wireless globally, the number of people expecting anytime/anywhere access to applications and content will grow rapidly. As mobile broadband supplants wireline for internet access, the need for robust Application Delivery solutions for remote users will increase. From customer facing Web sites to Enterprise applications, ServerIron will provide the "on" in "You've got Content".
2010, may be a watershed year for the Internet. Globally, we'll see an increase in mobile network coverage and speed; more smart phones, laptops, net-books and tablets connecting to networks; and of course, access to more content. So, while 4th graders (and the rest of us) will have plenty search, plenty to find and plenty to access no matter where we are, companies like Brocade will keep working to make sure the network can make it look so easy.
Who knew the skeletal system is an organ? A 4th grader.