Entering the third phase of the internet

02 March 2017 | Phill Lawson-Shanks

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Phill Lawson-Shanks

Blog Author | EdgeConneX; Chief Architect and VP of Innovation


Over time, the internet and how it has been used has evolved. Phase one consisted of connecting personal computers, communicating via email, and viewing and interacting with web pages. The second phase was more application and device-driven, and featured the advent of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). We are now entering the third phase, which is characterised by running multiple applications and streaming data, and concurrently connecting to the cloud from any device at any location.

According to Gartner, global enterprise IT spending across all industry market segments is expected to reach $2.7 trillion in 2016. More specifically, spending on data centre systems is projected to reach $175 billion. This spending is driven in part by the need to refresh server architectures and licences for mail and messaging as unified communication services grow in use due to the convenience of mobile devices for storing and calling phone numbers, and accessing email and calendars. Deskbound workers, especially millennials, eschew the desk phone and prefer to be tethered only to their mobile devices.

Consequently, internet connectivity is becoming as necessary to a business as electricity, making it both critical and a commodity item. The connectivity is the medium and what it enables is vital to the success of a company in providing productivity along with a tool to generate new business and products. CIOs and IT management have a choice between making a hardware/CapEx investment and cloud/software/OpEx investment in infrastructure. There is also the option of a hybrid cloud with physical devices located across public and private virtual landscapes where the business and the cloud providers share the operational and financial risks.

The cloud is becoming larger, with user counts demonstrating strong growth. The 2016 IDG Enterprise survey revealed that 70% of organisations have at least one application in the cloud, up from 51% in 2011. Many companies are seeking greater control over clouds to more easily scale or “burst” up or down to meet seasonal workload requirements while maintaining high levels of performance and reliability. Companies may choose to move away from mega clouds to their own clouds, adopting more regional public and private clouds. In this way, companies can more easily connect to supply chain partners and control traffic flow for internal data, which may no longer need to traverse as many hops to reach the hyper-scale cloud platforms. This is particularly effective when utilising network acceleration platforms such as Microsoft Express Route, Amazon Direct Connect and next-generation Internet Exchange (IX) fabrics.

The internet’s underlying infrastructure was simply never designed to accommodate the exponential quantities of streaming data that it is now expected to carry. Bringing the cloud and the required on-ramps closer to the users significantly reduces network latency. A slow connection can be a disaster for a salesperson making a presentation or attempting to access calendars and contacts en route to meet a client, only to find that the required data is temporarily unavailable or has disappeared. Proximity to the cloud matters. As we enter the third phase of the internet, the Internet of Everything (IoE) and as we continue to extend the ‘edge’ around the globe —to accommodate this ever-growing internet demand.