Networked Applications and Dreams of a “Jetsons” Future

A 'Jetsons' Future?The New Year got me thinking about the future of networking. What’s on the horizon? Every New Year, industry gurus postulate about what will be the exciting new trends.

Even as I write this article, a whole world of new technologies are being developed that will create far more demand for optimizing and accelerating networks than we’ve ever seen before.

For office, home and mobile devices, networked applications are popping up everywhere. Think about it! We are at the precipice of a new world of networked applications that are going far beyond computers, tablets and smartphones. New technologies for consumers and businesses are showing up, and will continue to populate every industry, and every area of our lives — representing hundreds of billions of dollars. From “smart” clothing and home appliances, to intelligent cars, intelligent planes, and a myriad of other gadgets, these cloud-connected applications are going to grow exponentially. This growth will certainly drive demand, not only for WAN optimization, but for software defined networking and virtual networking, too.

These networked apps will help us work more efficiently, and achieve greater productivity. They will allow us to relax more, and make relaxation more interesting. Things we once thought of as wildly futuristic and probably not even possible are becoming reality. Companies around the globe, from technology giants to start-up companies we aren’t even aware of, are hoping to take advantage of this multi-billion dollar market potential.

What seemed possible only in science fiction will soon usher in homes with completely digital kitchens, bedrooms, and family rooms chock-full of smart fixtures, furniture, appliances, and interactive and cloud-connected walls, counters, and tables — not to mention electronic games and toys. The lifestyle I craved from watching The Jetsons when I was a kid can now be mine! How cool is that?  Networked apps will be embedded in everything. We already see them in ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers and thermostats, just to name a few. The automated home isn’t just hype. Futuristic smart homes exist today in development and test environments within technology companies.

The vision of the automated home means the development of operating systems that run homes. The escalation of new intelligent devices, mobility, and cloud computing are guiding us into a globally interconnected and wire-free world. I’m not simply anticipating a rapid increase in these networked apps, I’m expecting lightning-fast growth. The incredible automation we know today will soon seem childlike.

Companies which currently sell networking products and services think in terms of thousands, or millions, of users and applications. In the future, they may be looking at billions of users and apps. Today, WAN optimization vendors are targeting data-center and networking personnel. They sell to CTOs, CIOs, network architects and administrators, application developers, and security experts. In the future, these vendors may be pursuing building architects, developers, contractors, landscapers, home security companies, electricians, home appliance manufacturers, media entertainment consultants, manufacturers of robotic devices, and car manufacturers. Heck, they’ll likely be working with the companies that power our homes and offices, such as electric and gas utilities.

The dream of a Jetson-like existence is not far off. Clearly, just about everything we can think of will be connected over a network. That makes me feel really positive about the future of WAN optimization. It’s not simply about the devices and their applications, but how those devices and applications share data and communicate with the future fabric of the cloud. My hope, however, is that as technology becomes blended into virtually every part of our lives, we are able to find a balance that keeps our humanity in mind, and allows people to enjoy being… well, people.  Not applications.

Image credit: Project Gutenberg