Rewind your life by a few years and think back to how you stored your data; youll probably see yourself coming out of a cyber cafe with a floppy disc or at best, a CD. Juxtapose this to todays scenario where you are digitally available anywhere, anytime. All this has been possible thanks to the cables, links and protocols networks which reach our homes, around the globe. Ethernet has become the most dominant of these networking protocols enabling everything whether it is aiding businesses to function and communicate across locations, doctors to collaborate around the world, or universities to share research data; Ethernet provides the underlying high speed backbone connections that power the internet.
Robert Metcalfs sketch of the original Ethernet concept in an internal memo in 1973 may not receive the fanfare of a Benjamin Franklin kite, or an Isaac Newton apple, but there is no denying that Ethernet has changed our lives completely. From the way we push data, to the way we serve it on our devices or save information over cloud, Ethernet has completely changed the way we communicate. What started as a simple solution to connect a small network of computers together; is now the networking layer and protocol of choice for both local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs).
Today, the most popular networking technology connects the far corners of the world, bringing us all closer than ever before. In fact, it is actively moving societies to a new level of inter-connectedness. The global internet population now represents 2.1 billion people, and with every website browsed, status shared, and photo uploaded; we leave a digital stream that continually surges. And these numbers dont seem to cease their upward traction.
Due to the consistent interoperability and scalability enabled by Ethernet, the internet has produced unique approaches to businesses and lifestyles such as international e-commerce, information sharing and community operations. Today, the e-commerce market is ever expanding and is at $30 billion in 2013 according to Gartner predictions. Consumers spend nearly $272,070 every minute on online shopping. Digital experience of this stature has redefined lifestyles; people around the globe depend on the internet to book travel tickets, buy holiday gifts and sell old items. Through online financial trading, millionaires have been made. Healthcare has become more accessible as doctors from around the world can come together to treat one patient in one location. It is no surprise that the IT and telecommunications industry is investing heavily on Ethernet and has worked towards improving its standard. It stands at $20 billion today and is poised to grow at a 14% CAGR to $40 billion, by 20151.
The networking technology is even offering an opportunity that will enable mobile carriers to take advantage of the next generation of communication services. With greater speed over mobile communications, the use of Ethernet in the mobile back-haul (from the cell towers to the central network) is opening doors to video streaming, video calling and next generation data and mobile applications. Also with Ethernet as the delivery enabler of data-intensive high bandwidth applications, possibilities of seamless streaming and broadcast of live events goes up considerably.
The future of Ethernet as foreseen by many is very promising, as the market for global Ethernet services is evolving into a second phase. Well see new mobile applications, newer technologies, and newer possibilities emerge. Until then, lets wait and watch.
The writer is senior director and head of Ethernet product management, Tata Communications