The Internet era started in 1969. A family tree of the Internet is shown in Figure 1.1. The key driver for the Internet protocol (IP)-based network is a common application and service environment across multiple types of networks. In fact, the IP has created an open platform for innovative, flexible, and fast service creation, has enabled existing services to be supported, and has provided IP-based mobility for all types of wired and wireless transport in both the access network and the core network. The target setting is to (1) create a world class all-IP system with rapid time-to-market and future-proof design, (2) enable flexibility for providing new, revolutionary services while ensuring smooth network evolution and service continuity, (3) provide access independent design for globally seamless services, and (4) enable growth of revenue-generating systems now by leveraging the newly emerged wireless data market. The basic concept of wireless IP is shown in Figure 1.2.
The Internet of Things (IoT) attracts huge public attention nowadays. It is a network of interconnected physical devices (things) which sense and interact with the physical world and are connected to a computing environment over existing Internet infrastructure. A thing or a smart device (object) can be anything – a smart air conditioning system, a smartwatch, a smart bulb or a smart bench.
In the 90's as we pondered the future of data networks, we came to the realisation that as most applications were based on IP, it made sense to offer IP-routed data connectivity for Wide Area Networking (WAN) solutions. The IP die had already been cast by via internet with the value proposition of private IP networks - typically MPLS-based - to provide the flexibility of the Internet via a private network model. MPLS has been an extraordinarily successful solution in the corporate WAN market - providing a platform for application convergence, supported by performance SLA's spanning packet level attributes such as delivery ratio, latency/round trip delay, jitter and availability. As a private IP network, MPLS provides peace of mind around security, but also as a managed network infrastructure, comfort that if there is an issue the matter can be resolved by a single accountable provider. Interestingly, as MPLS has evolved over a 15 year lifecycle, the internet has "lurked" in the background as an alternate option for WAN connectivity.
Anyone with hands-on experience setting up long-haul VPNs over the Internet knows it's not a pleasant exercise. Even factoring out the complexity of appliances and the need to work with old relics like IPSEC, managing latency, packet loss and high availability remain huge problems. Service providers also know this -- and make billions on MPLS. The bad news is that it is not getting any better. It doesn't matter that available capacity has increased dramatically.