The Internet's future
May 19, 2014
by Mark Ollig

It began as an experimental network, and evolved into “the network of networks.”

Like the invention of the telephone and the original telecommunications network, the Internet and the devices connected to it enhance how we communicate, manage our personal lives, and conduct our business.

The Internet, for most of the Generation Y, or Millennials who grew up using it, has become part of their daily life.

Today, we are witnessing the architecture of the Internet being sewn throughout the very fabric of our society.

It’s analogous to the clothing we put on each morning; we have become used to wearing our “digital fabric” to connect with the online social media and applications we routinely use each day.

The Internet’s “Web” is spun around this planet, and high above it. Ultimately, yours truly believes it will reach out to Mars, and beyond.

During the last few years, many of us have been transferring our personal and business data file information onto online storage mediums.

The data files we previously kept on our own computers and storage devices are now residing in the cloud; those mysterious storage servers located within the Internet’s infrastructure.

How comfortable are we with having our online social activities, much of our communications, personal information, and work data, being managed and stored within the Internet?

We are told by websites our information is secure and protected “We have your data encrypted and backed up,” they say us.

Nevertheless, our concern is justified.

How many Internet website data breaches have we heard about lately?

These data breaches often reveal customer account information being compromised.

Internet sites can be vulnerable to having their security defeated, and its information acquired.

I recall the old adage, “There’s no system foolproof enough.”

The only way to truly keep data safe is to store it on a device or storage medium not connected to the Internet, which is what we were doing back in the 1980s and ‘90s.

Of course, it’s a different world today than it was then.

Many of us, myself included, have become overly trusting when uploading photos, videos, text, and other information files onto what we believe are secured social media, data storage, e-mail servers, and other Internet sites.

Think of our online financial transactions; we routinely trust a website using the “https” seen in the web address bar, as being securely encrypted. It’s a visual assurance the information we enter won’t be seen by others.

Fear not, dear readers, for we can take comfort in knowing there are highly-skilled Information Technology (IT) programmers managing the cloud portions of the Internet’s infrastructure.

They are safeguarding the gateways to where our information is stored, by using firewalls, algorithms, and data encryption.

It should be known, for the most part, that our data is well-protected using today’s current technology.

Alright, yours truly is finished with his ranting, and is now stepping off his soapbox – for the moment.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950, to “promote the progress of science.”

Recently, the NSF made available $15 million in awards to three institutions for specific Internet project research.

These institutions will begin to research and submit proposals for new designs to enhance the technical architectural infrastructure of the future Internet.

These new Internet project designs include planning, developing, testing, and deploying future Internet architectures.

The objective of this year’s award is to test new designs via a pilot program, with the cooperation of academic institutions, non-profit organizations, industrial partners, and cities.

The NSF’s website said these projects will “explore novel network architectures and networking concepts.”

The three projects will be led by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, the University of California in Los Angeles, and Rutgers University in New Jersey.

The NSF also listed several other universities which will be partnering with each of the three institutions leading the research efforts.

I remain optimistic about the future of the Internet.

As the Internet grows and develops into “The Internet of Things,” it needs to become not only more efficient, but increasingly user-friendly, adaptable, reliable, manageable, and, of course, secure.

I look to see a future Internet using an enhanced transmission control protocol “intelligent” software language, and much less physical internal hardware.

The Internet architecture of the future will become accustomed to recognizing, communicating with, and processing information from the billions (if not trillions) of smart devices, electronic sensors, and other yet-to-be-invented gadgets.

As our society and the world grows and evolves so must the Internet.

People researching and designing new Internet-related technologies; governments committed to maintaining fair and equal laws and policies regarding its use, keeps the Internet’s progressive evolution continuing.

The NSF website is located at http://www.nsf.gov.

The Future Internet Architecture project website is http://www.nets-fia.net.

A diagram of what a future Internet architecture could look like can be seen on my Photobucket page http://tinyurl.com/bits-nsf1.

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