Do we really need high-speed internet in Australia?
A lot of my time recently has been spent focusing on cloud computing, specifically how it will impact on my business and what opportunities it can offer my clients.
It is very easy for me to forget that many business owners and senior managers are still trying to get their heads around what it all means.
Using the history of wheel-based transport versus the history of the internet let me illustrate an interesting analogy to outline the necessity of high-speed internet in Australia.
|History of Wheel Based Transport||History of Internet|
|3500 BC wheels are attached to hand drawn carts||1836 Telegraph|
|2000 BC horses are domesticated and used for transport||1876 Telephone|
|770 Iron horseshoes improve horse transport||1962 -68 Packet Switching networks developed|
|1662 first record of a public horse drawn bus||1969 – ARPANET commissioned by DoD as research project (basis for internet)|
|1740 a clockwork carriage is demonstrated||1971 Now 15 nodes and 23 hosts on ARPANET First E-mail Sent|
|1769 First steam powered locomotive for roads||1972 Public demonstration of ARPANET between 40 machines|
|1771 First car accident as car crashes into brick wall.||1973 ARPANET goes global UK and Norway|
|1801 First steam powered train||1974 TCP is defined for use on ARPANET|
|1807 First internal combustion engine vehicle (hydrogen gas)||1977 Number of hosts on network exceeds 100|
|1814 First practical steam powered railroad locomotive||1979 News Groups (still active today) are created, Collaboration tools begin|
|1862 First Gasoline driven vehicle||1982 TCP/IP is defined|
|1885 First Benz practical Automotive||1983 Name servers created as network is too big to know all points|
|1908 Henry ford generates mass production of the motor vehicle||1986 Potential identified as 5,000 hosts exceeded|
|2008 GFC almost wipes out car manufacturing in USA||1987 Internet moves from University and military to public 28,000 hosts|
|1990 300,000 Hosts firs ISP world.std.com is launched|
|1991 World Wide Web WWW is released|
|1992 Multimedia hits internet term “Surfing the internet” is coined|
|1993 2 million hosts a doubling of year before exponential growth is on|
|1994 ARPANET/Internet concept now 25 years old|
|1996 Microsoft starts the browser war with Netscape. Combo is created.|
|1999 Browser war over, Microsoft declared a Monopoly|
|2000 Number of web sites doubles in 7 months|
|2004 Facebook launched|
|2005 YouTube.com launched|
|2007 Google passes Microsoft as “the most valuable global brand” over 1 billion on WWW|
|2009/10 Cloud becomes the next big thing at a public awareness level|
|2011 Office 365 launched by Microsoft|
The point of these dates is to illustrate that it took 5400 years to go from the wheel to the modern motor vehicle and less than 200 years to go from message on-a-wire to a global multimedia collaboration tool.
Today it would seem that there is a greater sense of urgency to improve communication than there is to improve transportation.
While there is no question that faster transport has changed the way we think about the world computers are responsible for changing the way we think about what we know.
Do you still use a fax in your business or do you scan and send your documents? This is a great example of technology being rapidly superseded by a new development.
When the automobile became a reality no one thought the idea would take off for all sorts of reasons – people should not move so fast, noise, distribution of fuel and danger to horses and other road users.
We are now used to adopting new technologies and tend to worry more about convenience in the moment than fearing the risks of early adoption.
So how do we extend the analogy between transport and the cloud?
Today we have motor vehicles, planes, trains and boats.
In computing we have mobile devices, PCs, laptops, servers, private clouds and public clouds.
- The mobile device is like a motor bike. It will work almost anywhere, is lightweight and conveys one or two people from place to place without the need to pedal.
- The PC is more like a car. You typically lease or own one and use it for the full range of tools and applications you require.
- A taxi is like an internet café, where you use the technology in sessions.
- The company server is more like a bus than anything else. You all ride on it but have no direct ownership of it. You can use it as a place to chat with many people but you do not plan to do collaborative work there other than with people you know and trust.
- The server farm in your office is akin to a rail road. It is private infrastructure that we all use part of to share information. It is also a private cloud and it is where larger-scale collaboration begins to happen.
- If you take the entire network of roads and rail, including international airports and ports, you now have something that aligns with the public cloud. This gives you instant global reach with your communications, with multiple utility scale server farm environments running at a level of complexity that no one individual can comprehend.
Transport is constantly evolving to be faster, more efficient, more comfortable and safer. Internet systems are constantly evolving to be faster, more efficient, easier to use and of course, safer.
The rate of adoption of the internet makes the evolution of transport look sluggish. As billions of people go online and seek tools to work faster and smarter to share information, collaborate on ideas and seek entertainment the future will develop in ways that we cannot predict.
If you are happy riding an unshod horse as your primary mode of transport you will believe that we don’t need fast internet in Australia.
If you intend to be part of the rapidly evolving, data enabled world, than there is no question that we need all the bandwidth we can get our hands on.
Of course cost is important and timing is everything, particularly as technologies get adopted and unit prices decrease when more people are buying them.
It could also be assumed that a new technology will emerge to create alternatives to the tools we buy today, so change is guaranteed.
The bad news is that there is little truth in saying it will get easier. I believe we will be faced by complexity of change and choice, which is great news for the support industry, but hard work for any of us getting old and trying to stay up to date with technology.
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David Markus is the founder of Combo – the IT services company that ensures IT is never an impediment to growth.