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Internet World (Spring) – Chicago
March 10-14, 1997
by Alan Meckler, Chairman and CEO, Mecklermedia
I just have to give an anecdote about John Patrick of IBM, Vice President of Internet Technology. It’s hard to believe, I met John in 1994 at the first Spring Internet World in San Jose. Some of you have probably heard this story, I may have even said it, unfortunately, in the last day or two. The first show had less than 80 booths and had a lot of visitors for that, about 8,000 people. But someone said to me, “There’s this guy from IBM that wants to meet you.” So I said, “Well, sure, I’d love to meet someone from IBM.” That particular show, by the way, the biggest booth was Digital. Digital had 200 square feet. The biggest booths in this hall now are about 14,000 square feet.
So, I’m looking for this fellow, John Patrick, who I’m supposed to meet, and I’m looking for a suit, a white shirt and a striped tie. Looking all over. And I see this guy in jeans and a T-shirt, and sure enough, it’s John Patrick. So I was a bit taken aback. And he said “Hi, I’m John Patrick. I wanted to talk to you about perhaps IBM having a role in the show next fall.” I said, “Oh, does IBM have an Internet division?” He said, “You’re looking at him.”
And he went on to tell me that he realized IBM had been involved in the Internet for quite a long time and that he had, I guess, talked to various people at IBM and said maybe I could put a Internet group together — and I sure hope John isn’t going to tell this story, I hope I got it right, cause he’s got to sell IBM — what he did was he put out an e-mail, as I understand it, to every employee at IBM and said, “Anyone who knows anything about the Internet, would you please contact me. Because the Internet is here to stay, and IBM has to have a role in it.” Obviously, IBM decided, at that point and henceforth, that they do have a major role. And now I’m going to bring John Patrick out to tell you more about that. Thank you very much.
Emergence of a universally connected world – John Patrick
Thank you, Alan. Good afternoon. It’s great to be here to talk with you about the Internet. We’ve all learned a great deal over the past two years, and it’s exciting for me to be able to share with you what I’ve learned. And to give you, perhaps, a view of the future from one fellow traveler around the planet. I’d like to discuss with you the emergence of a universally-connected world, and talk with you about the opportunities that this new world presents, and explore with you the possible limitations. Will people be frightened away? Will they learn to trust security? Will there be enough bandwidth? Will the Net collapse? Important questions that we need to explore and perhaps a glimpse of the future, again, from the perspective of one fellow traveler.
Now, there are some forces of change that are happening because of the Internet. Happening right under our nose at breakneck speed. Changing everything about our business and our personal lives. And I’d like to explore these with you. The Internet is not a phenomenon, it’s about the emergence of a rather incredible network. We know about local area networks: Small businesses have two or three or a half dozen PCs connected together on a local area network. Large companies may have hundreds of users on their local area network. Major companies have hundreds of local area networks with hundreds of PCs on each.
And now, what we see happening is the emergence of a global local area network. A network soon [to have], perhaps, accessibility by a billion people. People everywhere having access to this global area network, enabling every business, every institution, every government to think of their local area network as a way to reach all of their constituencies. Markets becoming geo-independent: No longer does it matter where you live versus where you work. People who create things will be able to create them on one continent, deliver them to another continent, and perhaps support them from yet a third continent. A new bank that we know about [is] starting up from the financial mega-center of Pineville, Kentucky. Really good ideas emerging from anywhere. A great idea in [Blin], Slovenia being able to get connected with a great idea — or a need for that idea — in Anchorage, Alaska, because of this tremendous connectivity.
The Web putting the consumer in charge. Inverting the publishing model. Enabling you and I to decide what we are interested in, when we are interested in it. And the degree of depth to which we want to explore information. No longer will editors and publishers decide for us based on where we are in the middle of a bell curve.
Recently, Nicholas Negroponte wrote about a woman who was shopping for a Saab, and she picked out the car of her dreams, she went to a dealer and she negotiated a really good bargain. A terrific price. And then she went on the Web and looked around at some discussion groups and found there were a lot of people interested in Saabs. And she posted a document saying “Is anybody interested in this particular model, black with the following features, if you could get it at this particular price?” And nine people came back and said “That’s exactly what I want.” She went back to the dealer and said “Are you sure I got the best price?” “Absolutely, that’s the best price we’ve ever given anyone.” “Well, there’s one little detail I forgot to tell you. I want to buy nine of them.” Guess what? She got a much better price. Now who was in charge of that transaction? Who set the price? Was it Saab? Was it the dealer? Was it the woman, on the Internet?
The fourth sea change that’s happening here, at breakneck pace, is the multimedia convergence. Sort of the grand convergence that we’ve been talking about as an industry for years, and now it’s happening. Multimedia is, of course, not a new idea, it’s been around for a long time. But now it’s fundamental, it’s integrated, it’s there. It’s enabling for the emergence of a new medium. Think about radio evolved from AM, to FM, to FM stereo. And how TV evolved from black and white, to color, to color surround sound, to theater sound.
Similarly, the Internet is evolving. Initially, a network for file exchange, Gopher, Telnet, e-mail, FTP and then the Web: Documents built on a standard format that anybody could look at, independent of what kind of platform they had. [Evolving] to a Web with multimedia content that you could download, to a Web with streaming multimedia content. So what’s next? A Web that facilitates natural human interaction. A Web where connections to the public switch telephone network just happen, when it’s appropriate for it to happen. Video being incredible for people who can see it, and audio just as good for people who can’t see. So a network that’s responsive to our needs, that’s self-directed, that facilitates this natural human interaction. The medium for all purposes.
And lastly, Internet addresses everywhere. I’m not talking here about e-mail. I’m talking about the ability to address things. We know that every PC has a TCP/IP address. Soon, everything will. Your phone. Your pager. Your car. Can you imagine a vending machine sending a message to headquarters saying “I’m out of 7-Up”? Can you imagine your KitchenAid dishwasher sending a message to the server in your basement, sending a message in turn back home saying “I need a new impeller blade”? Can you imagine your car running a little Java applet sending you an e-mail saying “It’s time for an oil change”?
The Result
Everything and everybody connected. One Internet is what is evolving. A universally-connected world. And this universally-connected world will result in the natural evolution to the new medium. A new medium where everything and everybody can communicate. Now portions of this single Internet are cordoned off behind firewalls to protect against unwanted intrusion: This is what we call the “intranet.” Portions of this single Internet are very high speed, very private connections between Company A and Company B, or Department A and Department B. Some people call this the “extranet.” But [it’s] all Internet technology, that provides for the creation of applications that will have a dramatic impact on information technology as we know it, not replacing it, extending it.
The priority will not be to re-write all the applications in the world: The priority will be to enable those applications to be extended to a new user interface. And that user interface is, of course, the Web. The Web becoming the window into core business systems, where all the really interesting information resides. The reach and compatibility of this network is enabling incredible new opportunities. These opportunities we think of at IBM, as “e-business,” e-business we call it. Content, commerce and collaboration. Not new words, but it really requires some new ways to think about them, that I would like to discuss with you.
Content. Enabling that content that resides in those core business systems to reach out to new constituencies. The 80/20 rule out the window. Why would you just build an application for those 20% of your dealers or distributors or constituents who provide 80% of the action, when you can build an application for 100% of your constituency? Where it previously wasn’t justified because of the need to create an input/output capability for those users, you know longer have to worry about that. You can depend on the fact that everyone has a fundamental human trait, a trait we didn’t know we had until recently. A trait we call “browsing.”
Commerce. We need to think of in new ways. Not “Click here to buy,” “Click here to initiate the just-in-time inventory for the plant floor,” [but] “Click here to start the supply chain going for multiple billions of dollars between companies.”
And Collaboration. Not just allowing millions of people to participate in newsgroups, although that’s quite important, but allowing just a few people to collaborate in a very private, very secure way.
So I’d like to discuss with you some examples of content, commerce and collaboration in this context. Very often we think about content as being something created here in Hollywood. And, of course, entertainment is important, and it will play a role in exploiting this new medium. But the real content is in those core business systems. We believe that 70% of the business data of the world in some way is being acted on by our systems. Every day, 35 billion transactions occur in our systems, installed at our customers. And this content now needs to be reached out to new constituencies.
We’ve seen the tip of the iceberg with what the package-tracking applications are doing at these four leading delivery services. Where you or I can enter an airbill tracking number and, through a series of gateways, extract information from a mainframe or a major server database, without really having to know what kind of a database is even there. But that’s just the beginning. At Caterpillar Tractor, imagine a bulldozer broken down in the desert, ten thousand miles away from Illinois. Previously, the engineer had to wait days to get a fax of that engineering drawing. They can now reach in to millions of engineering drawings using the Web, as an extension of existing core business systems. So content is not about just creating new kinds of things: It’s about enabling things that exist. It’s about allowing that information to escape and get to those new constituencies.
Now, there’s another aspect of content that I think is quite important to the evolution of this new medium. And it has to do with content about our culture, about our history. Content that helps shape our perspective, content that helps our children learn new languages and learn about other cultures — different, perhaps, from the one in which they grew up. It’s critically important content, and until recently it’s been restricted to only a few. You’re looking here at a drawing here by [Tomei]. It’s 500 years old, it’s in the Vatican library. It’s a picture of ancient Vienna. And this picture, until recently, was only able to viewed by a few, very special scholars who were able to come into the Vatican library.
Only hundreds per year could examine these great works of [Tomei] and Aristotle, letters to Anne Boleyn and priceless treasures that exist there. But now, through some rather incredible scanning technology, this information is on the Web. And you’ll see the watermark on this beautiful picture that protects its authenticity, using a public key cryptography capability. Now five hundred years old seems rather old to us here in this country, but in other parts of the world it seems, actually, quite modern. I’d like to share with you something that’s going on in the area of digital library.
Now that’s what Digital Library is all about, is unleashing the power from all of these archives and museums and national libraries, like the Library of Congress, or the National Library of China in Beijing, which contains 5,000 years of Chinese history and culture.
What we do with our Digital Library project, is solving problems from cultural institutions, accessing, storing their information, all the way to large movie companies, managing all their movies in digital form in IBM Digital Library. So that you can not only store it, not only search it, but have whole new ways of experiencing content. Now that’s the future.
Five hundred years old. Five thousand years old. This is a really important aspect of the Web. Some people worry about, “Will there be just one language because of this great network? Will everything become digitized and we won’t any longer have libraries?” Well, I think, actually, nearly extinct dialogues will now be preserved because of the Web, and priceless treasures that otherwise would never be seen, except by a few, will now be seen by millions.
Let’s actually take a look to see what’s going on in China. (Let’s see if I can click right on China here on this spinning globe.) At the National Library in Beijing, there are 17 million priceless documents, serials, monographs, books and paintings. Information that, again, very few people in the world have ever seen, but now with the power of scanning technology with digital watermarks and the extension of the Web, we’ll be able to look at these incredible drawings. These are pictures of the famous [Lu Han], that were painted in the early 1900s, based on inscriptions on ancient Chinese temples. These are very popular and very famous pictures of China. Most people outside of Beijing have never before seen them.
So the Web is having a profound impact on content. Content for business, content for our society. What about the content for your business? Who represents it? What is the source of content for your company or your government or educational institution?
Here’s a page on the Web about the paper industry. It’s a compendium of almost everything you could imagine about the paper products industry. This page was created by a gentleman named Steve [Schuch]. Steve works at the University of Washington. I presume he does this for a hobby. Do the executives of the companies in this industry know Steve [Schuch]? Do they know what he has to say about them? Are these sources that he represents here, and these points of view, and opinions and links, are they the right ones? Are they the ones that most accurately reflect what’s really going on in this key international industry? Well, I don’t know if they are or not. The point is that somebody out there is creating opinions about your business, about your university, about your government and you really need to know who they are and you need to partner with them. And if they’re dedicating their lives to making this information available, you might want to help them. You might want to support their Web site, perhaps behind the scenes, or perhaps proactively, in a co-branding sense, to leverage the capability.
People love to share information. People love to talk about any imaginable subject. What are they saying about your particular business? I’ve heard of companies who say, “Well, we’re not on the Web, we’re taking a low-key approach.” And of course, as we all know, doing a search on that company will find lots of points of view. And my point here is we need to proactively go, and find what people are saying, and participate.
Now there’s another kind of content that’s quite important, and that falls in the area of sports. And what’s important about it is that any particular sports activity will only have a relatively very few be able to be there. It’s hard to believe, but the Winter [Olympic] Games are coming up in just 330 days. It’ll be quite exciting actually, but, as a percentage of the world’s population, nobody will be there. Many children will be quite interested in this particular set of games, and I’m going to show you here just a sneak preview of what you’ll be able to experience 330 days from now, for the children.
At the Nagoya site there’s a Kids’ Plaza, or there will be, and at the Kids’ Plaza children will be able to play games, they’ll be able to participate in sports on the Web, they’ll be able to send e-mail to athletes, they’ll be able to have pictures of themselves and others, and they’ll be able to see the renderings made by their fellow students from other parts of the world, and broaden their perspective on these different cultures. It’s quite exciting what the possibilities are.
e-business, thinking about content in new ways. Now the second axis of e-business is commerce. Again, not just “Click here to buy,” but fundamentally new ways of doing business. I think we’re all quite familiar with how a bookstore started a year or so ago on the Web. And overnight went from being nowhere to having the largest inventory of books in world available: 1.1 million of the 1.5 million English-titled books. Now if you’re a major bookstore with major investment in bricks and mortar and perhaps having mega-bookstores around the country — physical bookstores — how do you react to this new phenomenon that comes up on the Web? Do you hide from it? Do you disavow it? Do you hope it goes away? What do you do? Do you compete with your own stores? Recently Barnes & Noble announced that yes, they will be on the Web. They will introduce this new channel. Will it potentially impact their existing channels? Of course.
This was a courageous decision to boldly step out with a new approach to use the power of e-business to enable consumers to have greater choice. I can assure you that decision was not made by the Webmaster, this is a CEO-level kind of issue that has to be dealt with in every industry.
Now, new models for commerce are occurring every day. At American Airlines, an e-mail goes out every week, toward the later part of the week. About a quarter of a million of them, in fact, to frequent-flyer members who are interested in bargains, bargain seats. People say, “What is the profit in being on the Web?” “Where’s the money?” “Can you make money on the Web?” Well, American Airlines is enabling a Dutch auction on the Web, people bidding for seats that otherwise would be empty. What is the cost of an empty airline seat? What is the profitability of a seat that takes off with someone sitting in it? Who bid for that seat, and paid real money to get what would otherwise be an empty seat?
Now, will people come? Will people come to the Web? It’s pretty clear that retailers are coming to the Web, about one out of six right now already in this country. What about the people? Will they come? I believe what we’re going to find is in 1997 a tremendous growth in people coming to the Web. The emergence of the Secure Electronic Transaction protocol, first demonstrated by IBM in Denmark in December of last year, is now agreed to by credit card companies and banks around the world. People will begin to trust it, to learn about it and commerce will take off. People want to be connected to one medium. And while they’re connected to that medium they want to be able to do everything that there is that they want to do.
e.Schwab has been providing electronic trading for 13 years. They’ve been doing it for one year on the Web, and in one year have gained more customers than the prior 13 years, because of the new medium. The new medium where people are connected anyway, so why not also be able to buy and sell securities. L.L. Bean adds a very interesting dimension to E-Commerce. Do people go to this Web site just to buy things, or do people go to this site because it’s the best place to learn about National Parks? At this site, thanks to a supercomputer and a relational database, you can look at the state of Pennsylvania and find where are the best places to go fly fishing. If you’re going on vacation in Montana: Where’s the best snowshoeing happening? What are the best state parks in Vermont, and how do you get to them, and what are some pictures of what they look like? That’s what’s going on at the L.L. Bean Web site. And, oh, by the way, you can buy things while you’re there too.
So E-Commerce is happening in new and important ways, but perhaps, ultimately, one of the most powerful aspects of e-business is collaboration. Now to think about collaboration, to learn about collaboration, we only need to look to the children. Now this is the site of SmokyNet, some of you may have heard me talk about this before. I confess I always talk about SmokyNet, but if you’ll indulge me again, I think it’s worthwhile to always think about and remind ourselves that the kids are pointing the way to the future. This is an incredibly powerful Web site. It’s rich in content, it’s rich in technology. The average age of the systems programmers that created this sophisticated site — 15. These kids don’t know this is supposed to be hard, they just do it. They’re not intimidated by technology. They embrace it. They play Nintendo at night, they’re on the Web and they built this Web site. They designed it. They manage it. Every teacher has a Home Page, the kids go to a kiosk between classes, they bring up the teacher’s Home Page, they look to see when their schedule provides time for help, they click on the teachers room number and see a map of how to get there.
That’s how these kids are growing up. Pretty soon they’re going to be coming to us and asking us some tough questions — about do we get it as well as they do? Now what’s interesting is that people who are 55 and older share something with these kids and that is they have time on their hands and they too are flocking to the Web. Have you visited [Senior Net] lately? Average age, over 80. Minimum age, 55; oldest age, 102. Another part of our population not intimidated by technology. Embracing it. Reaching out and collaborating with their grandchildren, with other people’s grandchildren. When older ones lose their friends, they can find new friends that have a common interest. These people are not intimidated by technology.
So we’re covered from 0 to 15. We’re covered from 55 to 102. Anybody here between 15 and 55? Or do you know anybody between 15 and 55 in your company? Or in your government or your university? Who is intimidated by technology? Who doesn’t have time? We’ve got to find time. We need to learn this technology. And we need to help those who don’t know it know it, if we already do. We need to embrace it, because kids are going to be here soon. Real soon. And we’re not going to interview them for jobs: They’re going to interview us. And they’re not going to ask us about our organization chart, they’re going to say “On those days that I choose to come in to the office, will I have a T-3 at my desk or a just T-1? Will have a 45-inch display or just a 21-inch display? When I dial in from my home 3,000 miles away will I have unlimited access to the Web and high-speed access to all the company databases for which I’m authorized?” Because if we can’t answer yes to those questions, forget it. Not interested.
…and when they go to sleep we wake up and get the code they wrote. And at our implementation center for JavaBeans in Seattle, Washington, we put together the JavaBeans that are built in Beijing, and at [Tata] in India and at the [Minsk] Institute in Belorus, Russia and in Latvia. And we have around-the-clock development going on. No longer is the clock working against it, it’s working for us. We can start working in New York and wake up and find out it’s finished before it got started. Because of the power and the reach of the Internet and using the global collaboration that is possible because of that Internet. Around-the-clock development. Forty-eight-hour days.
Now another set of collaboration that’s going on that I’m quite excited about is happening in the community exchange of alphaWorks. I invite you to visit alphaWorks. It’s our on-line research laboratory where many new technologies are available for free download. But more importantly, you can engage in dialogue with people, with your fellow aficionados of this technology, with researchers at IBM who created these technologies, and you can collaborate and share these ideas.
It’s a powerful idea to be able to have unlimited collaboration, but it’s perhaps an even more powerful idea to be able to have selective collaboration. The focus of the Web up until now has been: How can we get everybody connected? How can everybody participate in newsgroups, discussion databases, Web sites? But how about if you just want to have a few people be able to collaborate? Three people, four people, six people in different companies who are working on a project together and they want to have a secure, encrypted private discussion on the Web. Accessible only to them. How do you do that?
Well, I’m going to show you, if you’ll permit me, one little just sort of a side product demo here: How you could do that with Domino. It’ll just take a minute, and of course that’s the point, it just takes a minute. What you’re looking at here is Lotus Notes 4.5, that’s kind of where I live, I’m going to go over to this Domino tab here, and I’m going to create a brand-new database. A discussion database. File – Database – New. And up comes a dialog box that’s going to enable me to create a brand-new database. And I’m going to give it a name, and I’m going to ask for Domino Discussion Database. That’s a template, it’s already created, it comes with Domino, you don’t have to do anything. Now right now, that database is being created, it’s being initialized, and in just a few seconds and you’ll see it pop up on my desktop.
And there’s the database. It says “I Team,” which is the name that I gave to it and now you see a display of what’s in it: Nothing. Now I’m going to go back into Domino and use an incredibly powerful feature that Notes has had for eight years, and now we’ve enabled it on the Web, as you’ll see in a moment. File – Database – Access – Control. And in Access Control I can decide who I want to have access to this particular database. Up comes a dialog box and it says Default. I’m going to change the default to No Access, so nobody can have access to this database by default.
I’ve already got myself added, I think we’re going to add Alan Meckler to this collaboration, and I’m going to add Frank Gill, who was your keynote speaker this morning. Okay, and I’m going to go back and I’m going to make Alan a participant just by clicking on Participant. I’m going to make Frank a participant. I’m going to make myself the Moderator. And I’ve now established all the security levels for that database. I’m finished.
I’ve created, now, a database on Domino and when I replicate [it] that database will be available on the Web. So I’m going to go back to my browser now, and I’m going to take a look at this notion here of Team Exchange. I just clicked on a URL that was the name of the server-slash-the name of that particular database. Because the default was No Access, it automatically brings up a dialog box asking who I am. I am going to start out by being Alan Meckler — I’m going to put in Alan’s password, which he told me a few minutes ago — and up comes a blank database. Nothing in it. Now this is on the Web; this [can happen] using any browser. But I’ve just accessed a Domino database which I created in Notes just a minute ago. Now I’m going to add a new topic, I’m going to call it Collaboration. (And I spelled it wrong, but you’ll forgive me for that.) Now I’m going to say “Collaboration with Domino is really easy.” Okay, now I’m going to submit this topic. So now I’ve got a document in the database.
Let me just go take a look to see — yep, there it is. There’s the document I just created. Now what I’m going to do next is log in as a different user. It says at the top User Login. These are all the standard features of the Notes Discussion Database, but they’re implemented, as you can see, on the Web, using a standard browser. Now I’m going to log in as myself, John Patrick, put in my password, up comes the discussion database and as you can see there’s a single document in it. Now, of course, at this point, well, [I could] go into that document, I could create a new topic, I could respond to the comments that Alan made — I won’t do that, in the interest of time — I can also edit or delete.
Now, I don’t know if you recall, but the [last] time that we looked inside this database the Edit and Delete buttons were there. They were there because I’m the Moderator. And the other people were participants. So what we’ve implemented here is fine-grained security. The ability to have one person have a different view of the same database [from] another person. This is a very powerful capability. Go out on the floor and see if anybody else can do this. I’m not aware of how it can be done very easily. Well, there’s that document. I’m going to delete it. And now you see a view of the database with no documents. So, selective collaboration, a powerful capability to allow for e-business, collaboration on the Web.
Call to Action
Now this new set of thinking here, about content, commerce and collaboration, really does provide us with a lot of opportunities. Frankly, I think these opportunities themselves are calling out to us with a call to action. They’re begging us to take a look at certain things, to think about our business in new strategic ways. First, to evaluate middlemen, and to create reintermediation. Don’t just let channels be disintermediated, think of ways to create new value. Examine the role of your agents, your distributors and create new value. Build relationships. The Home Page is dead, but Web sites that come alive, that interact, that build relationships are key. Those relationships need to lead to trust. Trust is a really big deal. Logos and brands will become more important than ever. At the turn of the century, there will be a billion pages out there and perhaps a billion people. Trust is going to be one of the most important attributes of your Web site. To let people know what you stand for. And make sure you do.
Reassess the competition. No longer will competition come from the traditional places. Not only might it come from a country you never heard of, it may come from an industry that you didn’t expect, because of the power that all of us have now, of reach and compatibility. Reach out to new markets, because other people will be reaching into yours.
And lastly: Empower your people. Many executives around the world are worried about the loss of productivity. “I don’t want my people surfing the Web. We got work to do around here, we don’t have time for surfing.” That’s the wrong thing to worry about. We need to worry if our people aren’t spending enough time on the Web. We need to worry if our marketing and engineering people aren’t out there. Examining key trends in universities around the world. Examining the competition. Who are they hiring on their Help Wanted section of their Web site? What are they looking for? What’s their strategy that they’re telling their customers about? What are our customers’ strategies? So the Web is a powerful way to become informed. In big organizations, it’s so easy to become inwardly focused and just talk to each other. And the Web now, for the first time, allows us to reach out and talk to anybody. And to collaborate, to open our minds, to gain perspective, to become more competitive. So, let’s not worry about the wrong things.
The last part of my discussion has to do with those limits I talked about up front. What are the limits? And will they slow us down from this vision of a universally connected world? And for the empowerment that e-business will bring to all of us. Well, I like to think of the glass being half-full, not half-empty. But there certainly are some possible limitations. I think there are five that are most meaningful.
First, security. Will people learn to trust security? I believe they will. I believe that very soon people will say “Gee, security is not actually a problem. In fact, it’s an opportunity.” Because of the great power of encryption, no longer will we have to call an 800- number and give our credit card number to a complete stranger. No longer will we have to take business critical secrets, put them in a brown envelope, and stamp it “For Your Eyes Only” and then hand it to somebody in the mailroom. No longer will we have to worry about authentication. No longer will we have to worry about the integrity of messages. No longer will we have to worry about repudiation: “I didn’t order that. I didn’t send that e-mail.”
That’s what encryption gives us: Authentication, scrambling of information for confidentiality, integrity and non-repudiation. Incredibly powerful things. Today, nobody would buy a word processor without a spell checker. We know what it is, we know what it does, we trust it. Do we know how it works? No. And that’s the way encryption will be. Very soon, you won’t buy any software that doesn’t have Public Key Cryptography built right in. All data will become encrypted. And this power of encryption will enable e-business, it will enable us to reach out and do business in a community of billions with confidence on a global basis. So security is not a limitation. It’s an enabler.
What about bandwidth? Well, bandwidth is a long discussion and I’m going to try to give you a view of it that’s very net — no pun intended. You break it into two parts: the backbone and the last mile. The backbone was built by IBM and MCI in 1988. In 1991, it was upgraded to 45 million bits per second. On April 1st, 1995, it was more or less disbanded and replaced with a structure of network access points. It served us quite well but it will not move us to the future. About 100 universities have now agreed on a new concept called [Internet II]. [Internet II] will employ a technology of gigaPOPs, a SONET-based synchronous optical networking technology that will facilitate up to ten billion bits per second. It’s under construction right now, and over the next couple of years these gigaPOPs — probably 50 or so of them in the U.S., maybe a dozen or so in Europe and Asia — will all work on consistent standards and will provide of incredible amounts of bandwidth. And ultimately subsume the exiting the DBMS and the existing network as we know it and become the next-generation Internet. So the backbone is going to have the oomph that we need. And the standards will enable it to work reliably and predictably.
The last mile: Many say, “Well, that’s the problem. The last mile.” But when you look at what’s going on here and really get down into the details, you can get quite optimistic about the last mile for two simple reasons: technology and competition. A Digital Subscriber Line is an awesome technology. It’s just a matter of building the modems. Do you think someone will figure out how to make those modems work? Of course. And Synchronous Digital Subscriber Line will be possible, six or eight million bits per second will be possible, into 90% of the homes of America. But meanwhile satellite technology is bringing increased bandwidth. Cable modems are beginning to be built with 25- and 30- and 35-million bit per second capabilities. Wireless is coming on very strong. So these various technologies will leapfrog each other and provide tremendous amounts of bandwidth. I believe the bandwidth will be there.
Scalability is an issue that we should all think about. Scalability has to do with stepping up to the tremendous demands that will be placed on servers. The Patent Database, a free public service put up two months ago by IBM, is an example of what’s possible. Here’s a database of millions of patents — all the U.S. patents in fact — complete bibliographies of those patents, including the images. It’s a really fun place to visit, by the way, to see what patents might have been filed by one of your college buddies or to see who patented a bagel slicer or anything else you can think of. What’s the weird patent of the week? Twenty-eight hundred CD-ROM’s full of data. Terabits of information, being delivered by multiple nodes of a supercomputer, as a service on the Web. Showing businesses of the world that you don’t have to have just a little Web server over in the corner, you can have major databases of customer inventory files, engineering drawings, enormous databases of all kinds. [They] can now be dealt with in a scaleable environment on the Web.
Now, two more possible limitations. Regulation is something we should all really think about. Many key government leaders around the world are looking at this huge growth of the Internet and saying “This looks like something we ought to tax. This looks like something we should regulate.” And this is not a good idea. So the Global Internet Project was formed and announced in December. Jim Clark from Netscape, John Gerdelman from MCI, and myself and a number of other executives in the industry have collaborated to write papers and put together a story for key leaders of the world about the good of the Internet, the power of the Internet to deal with disease management, to deal with disasters, to deal with improving our lives, to deal with education, to deal with many powerful capabilities that will improve productivity and improve the quality of life around the world.
Proprietary thrusts
And lastly, proprietary thrusts. Some companies may possibly get an idea about cornering the Internet. Bring it to the desktop, or perhaps corner it over in some portion of the network. This is a really bad idea. The Internet was built on a model of cooperation. It has thrived on a model of cooperation. And its future depends on that model of cooperation. Any computer being able to reach any other computer. Can you imagine some new great resource on the Web — like the Patent Database — and up comes the first page and it says “Caution: This will only work if you have Release 9.3.4 of the XYZ Operating System.” That’s a really terrible idea.
The world is one Internet, but no one company should nor can dominate this. It must be open industry standards, cross-platform and utilizing a language that anybody can write and anybody can read. And it can run on any platform. This particular chart here, you may see our name on it but this is not an IBM chart. This is a chart about the Java World Tour. And on it you see IBM, Netscape, Sun and Novell. Arch-competitors in the marketplace collaborating, arm in arm, to bring the world of components, Java components, to the world. So that components written by any of us for our companies can be treated as though they were written by any of the other three. This is a powerful idea. To allow the world to re-engineer itself using modular, granular components built out of 100% Pure Java. It’s a really good idea. There are no losers with this concept. Now initially it’s these four companies. I hope it will become all companies in our industry creating componentized software that can run on any platform.
Beyond the Web
Well, I’ve come to the end here, and I’d like to just give you my view — as one fellow traveler of the planet — as to what comes next. This new medium is evolving very rapidly. There are limitations, but they’ll be overcome. They’ll be overcome, because we’re all working together as an industry, or we all can work together as an industry. [All of these], e-business, commerce, content and collaboration, will be the driver that fuels the continued evolution of this medium that provides the economic basis which will fuel the investments which will make all of this come true. For institutions, it will be unlimited reach; and for individuals it will unlimited choice. I invite you to take a closer look at this presentation on the Web. If you’d like, you’ll find it at my web site, johnpatrick.com.
I appreciate your attention very much, and I hope you have a great remainder of Internet World Show. Thanks for coming.