New Year and New Predictions
This is a guest post by Daniel Kidd. If you want to write a Guest Post for TecRux, check our Guest Posting Guidelines.
With the introduction of the New Year, I always look forward to reading the predictions for what we can expect for the year. In my mind a prediction creates a sense of change; however there is no reason why the prediction would not suggest a situation of status-quo i.e. the year ends as it began, the values of the stock markets remain the same and we end the year using the same technology as we had when we exited the previous year. History and common sense suggests that this is very unlikely to be the case.
For example, while it remains a valid future prediction that Apple will announce new versions of their iPad and iPhone, its fairly clear that Apple set out on their development path to update the current iPad and iPhone products many months ago; it is highly likely the process started before the current version launched. So the path to our future is as much behind us and as in front. This is why a prediction is a forecast based on trend rather than a mystical talent to look into the future.
The New Google or Microsoft
As I read the predictions for 2011 I have my normal sense of disappointment. The predictions continue to evolve the trends we see today, growth in Internet and mobile data, increasing security requirements for mobile handsets, evolutions of social networking…the list goes on. It all makes sense, but it does not tell me where the next Google or Microsoft is going to come from, which I suspect I optimistically hope to spot as I read the predictions. But the reason these companies grew from nowhere to become so successful without other larger companies taking their market, is they did not follow history or predictions, they took a new approach. IBM failed to spot the importance of the PC operating system, which opened the door for Microsoft, who grew with the PC market, which accelerated as the demand for Internet access rapidly grew following the invention of the web browser. Even Bill Gates could not have predicted this, no matter how clever.
Changeover to IPv6
So the question is whether predictions are useful? In my view they are, they provide a sense of direction. However we need to be aware that the end destination may change during the journey. It also may mean the destination remains the same, but the path changes. A prediction for 2010 was the final depletion of unique Internet addresses (known as IPv4 address) which are required to continue the growth of the Internet. Vint Cerf, often referred to as one of the Fathers of the Internet, has been vocal about the need to move to the next generation address scheme (known as IPv6 – version 5 was skipped) to overcome this issue. By the end of 2010 the addresses had not run out, but the problem has not gone away, just delayed. The industry is resilient and is figuring out how to continue using IPv4, while it solves the issues of migration to IPv6.
Mobile Data Traffic
The problem for the Mobile operators is even more challenging; not only do they have the IP addressing issues, but the realisation that mobile data traffic growth will not slow its growth for many years to come. The prediction is there will be one billion high speed data users by 2012, not bad for an industry which was created for voice communications. I doubt this was a prediction back in 1985.
New Companies and Technologies
As the likes of the mobile operators evolve their managed networks to solve the challenges ahead, new companies and technologies will emerge to solve these issues. Some are beginning to appear, such as RAN optimisation technology to allow operators to slow the investment in their backhaul network. This and other technologies are unlikely to make a 2011 prediction list or stand a chance of becoming the next Microsoft. But as the industry sets out to solve new problems, new ideas evolve. Some of these ideas will change the destination of the industry, create improbable events and impact some future New Year predictions.
Daniel Kidd works for MLL Telecom which specializes in providing fully managed networks to service providers, system integrators and the public sector.