From ARPANET to Metaverse


Last Saturday marked the 53rd anniversary of the Internet. While the vast majority of its five billion users have been online for less than a decade, the Internet went live on October 29, 1969, when two computers connected to the ARPANET exchanged a message.

Although the Internet has been around for a while, it remained under most people’s radar until the late 1990s when the dot com boom began. While the internet was originally touted as the medium for e-commerce, in hindsight it’s easy to see that social media and mobility have proven to be its main drivers.

Paradigm shifts of this magnitude generally require three things to materialize. The first area that needs to be in place is the new technology that is needed to do things differently. The second is the entrepreneurial activity needed to imagine and drive change, followed by the capital investment required.

In the early 2000s, the Internet revolution set up all these engines:

  • Although the Internet was originally based on fixed networks, the late 1990s and early 00s saw the introduction of key technologies such as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), wireless LANs wireless (WLAN) and general packet radio switching (GPRS). which has made the Internet wireless, mobile and contactless from the end user’s perspective.
  • The dot com boom succeeded not only in raising awareness of the internet, but also in attracting entrepreneurial talent to the emerging market. Perhaps the best-known examples of these new entrepreneurs where people continue to be admired today include Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.
  • Perhaps just as importantly, the start of the Internet revolution in the late 1990s also paved the way for individuals like Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, who started at Netscape with Internet browsers but ended up creating the companies venture capitalists who have played a key role in the development of the mobile Internet. revolution of the 2000s and 2010s.

Fast forward to 2022, and the world has been revolutionized by innovative services such as social media, streaming, online advertising, collaboration tools, and various other software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based offerings. . Most of these innovations have taken advantage of public cloud services that Amazon and others have developed over the past 15 years.

Interestingly, the network infrastructure that powers the internet revolution hasn’t changed since the early 2000s. While the ever-increasing appetite for bandwidth has forced telecoms and internet service providers to continue investing in capacity, operating or business models in place have not changed since the late 1990s.

Enter the Metaverse

After Facebook changed its name to Meta, there was a lot of talk about the third iteration of the internet, the Metaverse. Although the discussion has been shrouded in both hype and, more recently, a healthy dose of skepticism, the consensus seems to be that the Metaverse is likely to take both work and play into the virtual realm.

Before innovation for Internet 3.0 is possible, however, the world needs new edge cloud infrastructure to power the metaverse. This new infrastructure will consist of decentralized computer nodes at the ends of the network; Artificial intelligence (AI) used for automation and to create intelligent user services; and the next generation of networking technologies required for seamless connectivity within the metaverse.

In many ways, the development we will see in the future resembles what happened with mainframe computers and personal computers (PCs). At their core, public clouds are based on a centralized computing model very similar to mainframes. At the same time, edge clouds are very similar to PCs in that they bring computing closer to end users.

While the PC market took off in the late 1980s and culminated in the laptop computers we all carry with us today, the PC never really replaced the mainframe. Instead, the flexibility and cost advantages of the PC computing model enabled entirely new use cases that would have been impossible to handle with mainframes.

As Bill Gates once said, we always overestimate the change that will happen in the next two years and underestimate the change that will happen in the next 10. This could also be true for edge infrastructure and the metaverse.

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