In just a few years, the self driving car will navigate our streets. Just try to imagine how much data needs to be exchanged and handled in real-time to ensure that the car and its passengers will reach their destination safely. And imagine how much data will be generated when millions of those cars roam the streets. Will the current internet infrastructure have enough capacity to deal with this monstrous volume of data? Cars are just one instance of a big data consuming application. But how about The Quantified Self, connected cows and real-time health care?
Internet is ripping at the seams. The World Wide Web was designed over 45 years ago, when the transmission of HD video, synchronous voice and other bandwidth consuming data streams were unheard of. Now the good old web technologies have almost reached their end of life. The tsunami of data that is looming due to Internet of Things will burden the internet infrastructure even further.
Scientist are now working to redesign the internet in order to keep pace with the data-laden demands of new technology. GENI, or the Global Environment for Network Innovations, is a US National Science Foundation funded project to redesign the internet, given what we know today. It is an online laboratory for networking and systems research with 6,500 collaborators from more than 180 universities in 30 countries. The project aims to improve the way data moves through the Internet by using software to change how data flows from various points.
The Next Internet is more than a network. It’s more than a system of pipes that move data from Point A to Point B. It’s a window into an integrated suite of networking, computation, storage and sensing that lets you build the services, and support the applications that are needed. The ultra-fast delivery of data can enable meteorologists to predict storms on shorter notice and even help first responders examine an emergency scene while still en route.
GENI has been under way for eight years, and its basic principle is simple: it seeks faster and more efficient ways for data to move. Researchers are seeking alternatives to the fundamental rules that govern how data goes from one place to another, such as Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, or TCP/IP. Under that system a computer divides information into bursts and sends it into a network to be re-assembled at the other end. GENI, meanwhile, removes inefficiencies through techniques such as stashing clouds of certain data at various places in the pipeline. Instead of shipping many copies of very popular information to some source, the data is pre-staged in different places and delivered locally. The large Content Delivery Networks already use similar concepts. One change that GENI technology brings about is that in the Next Internet, a new company doesn’t need to be a big player to offer a similar service, because they can use shared infrastructure.
What the Next Internet can bring the world ranges from simple conveniences like losing the buffering bar when you stream a movie – to significant improvements in medicine and emergency response. Other applications include weather forecasting – enabling faster processing of data from weather radar in remote locations to spot far-away storms sooner – and even fitness as one program in particular can record video of an exercise routine and use image-processing algorithms to analyze the user’s technique in real time.
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