Thursday, July 05, 2007

Robert Metcalfe on Future Networks

Robert Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet and founder of 3Com, presented some interesting ideas at a Navy conference. He described his perspective on where the Internet is going and provided advice on how to build military networks:

  • The Internet is growing into Video, Mobile connection, and Embedded networks in devices. Video and Mobile connections are stressing the foundations of the Internet right now and he thinks it will take 5-10 years to build out the net so that it can properly handle all of this content. However, the growth of devices with embedded networks is more important. Last year 10 billion devices were sold with embedded computer chips, most of them do not have network connection. He believes that in the future all of these devices will be on the Internet. The current net is not ready to support this volume of traffic and TCP/IP is not an appropriate protocol for that last mile to the device. He is pushing Zigby as the protocol that will bring embedded devices to the Internet.
  • The Internet was created by graduate students with no interest in security. He believes that the Internet is most vulnerable because it has no authentication of users at its lowest level. Routers do not verify the origin of messages, which allows spam and viruses to spread with little record of their originators.
  • We do not currently monitor the status of the oceans, rather we sample it with a few missions that take data at one location at a given point in time. If we really want to understand the oceans by monitoring them, then we need an underwater Internet to make it possible for sensors to reside and report from there permanently.

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