One of the biggest barriers to the growth of the Internet is the lack of available IP addresses, but to make matters worse, widespread outages are likely to occur over the next few years, causing chaos.
However, the cost of connecting to the Web will plummet over the next 18 months as DSL rises up and take over from ISDN, and this is likely to lead to two tier Web sites aimed at different segments of the market.
One tier will deal with fast Internet connections and the other will be aimed at users with slower means of access.
These were the findings of a panel discussion at the Comdex show in Las Vegas today, which centred around ?The Internet Crystal Ball: the future of the Internet?. ?One of the biggest roadblocks to growth will be IP addresses, which means that the convergence of appliances will continue to a certain point and then stop because they all need them," explained Dave Holtzman, senior vice president of solutions at Network Solutions.
He continued: "Power companies are requesting IP addresses for every outlet and that runs to millions, but the problem is there?s just not enough, and IPV6 is as least three years from widespread adoption.?
But he expected to see ?geometric growth? in the adoption of domain names however, with 100 million expected to be in existence within three years.
While most large companies and educational establishments already have theirs in place, small businesses are now starting to use them too because they provide a unique means of identification, and branding is key on the Internet.
More ominously, however, Holtzman predicted that users could expect to see several large Web outages in the near future that were likely to cause chaos.
?We?ll see several large brownouts, maybe due to fibre technology or switches, but probably they?ll be DNS-related. A year ago, if the Net went down for a day, it was OK, but if it happens now, there?ll be havoc,? he said.
He continued: ?Until I started to look into it, I had no idea that the DNS infrastructure was so fragile. The outage won?t be permanent, but it will scare people. If it happens next year though, people will just blame it on the Year 2000.?
Tim Sinclair, general manager of Microsoft.com, meanwhile, said he expected the cost of connectivity to fall over the next 18 months as DSL adoption became more widespread. But this means users will need content that is intelligent enough to work out what bandwidth it needs, he explained.
?It?s about application smarts as much as broadband access, but we?ll also need smarter bandwidth. This would mean we could log on to servers located in different places, but wouldn?t need to know where they were located. Not knowing where you?re hooking into would make everything much faster,? he continued.
This will contribute to the Internet ?disappearing? within ten years as it becomes ubiquitous, and as early as next year, the industry will start becoming more interested in applications than the Net itself, which simply provides the plumbing.
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