The Internet Of The Future (Part 1)

11/30/2012 9:09:59 AM

More surfers, more data and more services: the web is increasing by leaps and bounds, made possible by new technology and improved coding. We look beyond orizon to see what lies ahead for the Internet

The generation that has learnt to surf the net before they can even walk is already among us. Accessing the Internet is as natural to them as breathing; an integral and integrated part of life. It would be great if the future of the Internet is shaped like this: Accurate, Fast and Secure. And only those technologies that can keep up with the growth of the Internet can guarantee this. Some of these are being implemented today, but they'll need time. Expansion of existing IP addresses with the introduction of the IPv6 protocol has been going on for many years. And the introduction of the Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC), which ensures the authenticity of web addresses, will also take a while. In the meantime, new undersea cables through the north-west passage of the Arctic are also being planned. These will reduce the response time of a link to Japan by 60 milliseconds. The Internet of the Future will not happen in just one massive explosion, and laying down miles of cables is not the only solution to effectively direct the continuously increasing data flow to the surfer. Instead, a mosaic of new software technologies at different levels from the data centre of the browser will be headlining the biggest changes. The new horizon for the Internet is arriving, and we'll be looking beyond it to see what may very well be the Internet you'll experience next year.

Description: The Internet Of The Future

The Internet Of The Future

Better control in data flow

To increase the speeds of processing and sending Petabytes, one must uncouple software from hardware. Google shows us how it can be done

The International Telecommunication Union of the UN reported that one-third of the world's population was online in 2011, and the bandwidth of the web on an average amounted to 90,000 gigabytes per second. That is exactly 30 Exabyte in a month, and counting (refer to graph on right). The debatable point here is how one can effectively control such a high data flow. Google has now demonstrated this to large network suppliers like Cisco and Juniper. This is hardly surprising: communication between Google's data centres and web surfers themselves amounts to 6 to 10 percent of the entire global traffic, according to a report by Arbor Network. As Google would like to be the number one provider, it would not stay silent on the volume of traffic between its data centres. At the Open Network Summit in April, Google allowed a tiny insight into how one regulates the traffic between centres. It came as a huge surprise since the concern had evidently said goodbye to customary network architecture.

It is the norm for providers to expand their network capacities by going to large suppliers and purchasing their hardware along with the corresponding software. However, for the hardware, Google directly negotiates with Chinese manufacturers and links the router and switches via a Software Defined Network (SDN), which is controlled by the OpenFlow protocol. This allows the administrator to centrally control the path of the data packets in his network and avoid bottlenecks. He can assign greater priority to backups, email traffic or video streams if necessary. Google requires flexible control over the data flow because its internal network needs to more many Petabytes of data in short notice. SDN will be taking over all providers in the long term.

Who has the fastest file system in the world?

The web carries out an increasing number of tasks besides data transferring. The same applies to cloud services for computers and data storage. For example, the EC2 cloud by Amazon accounts for one percent of the entire Internet traffic. It stored an amount of 762 billion data sets (Objects) last year and had processed 500,000 tasks per second. Only file systems can ensure data integrity under high pressure; the administer the metadata (name, size, date) separately from the intrinsic file content. The Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) found in Facebook, Yahoo! and in the EC2 cloud will automatically create several copies and has a server at each node - this siver is employed to only manage the metadata (refer right). Thus, it is possible to manage many parallel accesses to Petabytes of data. This makes the open-sourced file system HDFS one of the fastest in the world.

Forecast: steadily rising web traffic

The Visual Networking Index by Cisco supplies the most exact data about web traffic. It forecasts a doubling for the next three years - propelled also by mobile devices.

Description: Forecast: steadily rising web traffic

Forecast: steadily rising web traffic

OpenFlow: Google's new network

OpenFlow organises the traffic between Google's computing centers. The Open Source Technology can efficiently distribute huge quantities of data as compared to the usual software for routers and switches.

Description: OpenFlow: Google's new network

OpenFlow: Google's new network

HDFS: A file system for petabytes

Only distributed file systems like the HDFS can manage thousands of simultaneous accesses to huge quantities of data; special servers are responsible for this administration.

If a file needs to be stored, the master server seizes the file's metadata (name, size, etc.) 1 and the contents are written on a data server 2. After that, the master server 3 gives the instruction for reflecting the data contents in another rack 4.

Description: HDFS: A file system for petabytes

HDFS: A file system for petabytes

Stable Protocol for connections

No website arrives to the browser without HTTP. Still, the protocol largely inefficient. Its successor is faster by at least 50 percent

The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), the cornerstone of Internet communication, is pretty much out-of-date. The last version (1.1) came out 13 years ago. As a complement to the TCP transport protocol, which packs the data in individual packets, HTTP instead concerns itself with requesting the contents of a website from the server and it prescribes the way in which the elements of a website are dispatched. For this purpose, HTTP 1.1 allows only one request per TCP connection. Thus, what happens is that all the elements of a website (text, images and scripts) are dispatched individually one after the other. Current browsers circumvent this restriction by establishing six parallel TCP connections. That is still not truly efficient enough, as one server can accommodate every additional connection with a delay of 500 milliseconds, and it also sends along a new redundant HTTP-Header with every connection - more data than it should necessarily transfer. And moreover, the headers are dispatched in an uncompressed manner. Furthermore, the protocol allows only the client to ask questions. Even if the server itself knows that it should actually dispatch more data still to the client, it must wait until the client requests the same. HTTP also does not provide encryption. That is why additional protocols like SSL are used.

Google and Microsoft Developing HTTP 2.0

The IETF (Internal Engineering Task Force) wants to address the many disadvantages surrounding HTTP 1.1, and plans to introduce Version 2.0 next year as a standard. It is to be decided this year as to which technology will be employed. Google and Microsoft have respectively made their own proposals, and they are being considered as hot candidates. Google has already been using SPDY for two years. This is a protocol that both modifies and complements HTTP 1.1. Firefox, Chrome and the Silk browser on Kindle have already integrated SPDY; likewise, all Google services like Amazon, Twitter and the Apache web server support this technology. SPDY allows HTTP packets to be sent in a parallel manner, compresses the data and also provides the compulsory SSL encryption. Reports have revealed that it accelerates data transfers by up to 50 percent.

From Microsoft's perspective, however, Google's concept neglects the requirements of applications in mobile devices. Microsoft wants to resolve that with the HTTP Speed+Mobility protocol. It uses the SPDY technology for parallelisation, but at the same time allows flexibility for encryption and compression as both requires computing power and also reduces battery life. Microsoft prescribes this using web sockets which establish a constant bi-directional connection between the client and server - a concept that matches the best with those apps which continuously send data to the web or receive data for further processing. Whichever catches on, faster Internet surfing will most likely be implemented next year.

HTTP 2.0: Two maps for the New Protocol

The new version of the web protocol ought to be released next year. Two competing proposals from Google and Microsoft as to how to optimize HTTP 1.1 are on the table at the moment.

Description: HTTP 2.0: Two maps for the New Protocol

HTTP 2.0: Two maps for the New Protocol

Firefox 13: Now already with HTTP 2.0

With Google's SPDY protocol, you can now surf faster 1. It is by default activated both in Chrome and Firefox 13 2. Users can test this on

Description: Firefox 13: Now already with HTTP 2.0

Firefox 13: Now already with HTTP 2.0

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