In an interview over on ZDNet published on Friday, VeriSign’s CTO Ken Silva made another of those crazy internet growth predictions: in ten years we will need to deal with internet traffic 1000 times as large as today. Actually, it’s not crazy, it’s simply mathematics and exponential growth with a bit of optimism thrown in and then bundled for shock value. The mathematically-oriented amongst us quickly realize that in order for the internet to grow by a factor of 1000 over a decade, it need only double each year since 210=1024.
Of course, VeriSign wasn’t talking about transport capacity but rather about server capacity, because that’s what VeriSign needs to scale. They’re doing about 60B queries daily, and are planning to find a way to handling more like 4 quadrillion. Honestly though, computational power seems to scale much more effortlessly over the years than bandwidth and with the scale-improving cloud computing movement, I don’t really think VeriSign is going to have that big a problem. The pipes though, a jump by three orders of magnitude in traffic will make mincemeat of 100G’s mere tenfold advance.
Now, internet traffic growth hasn’t been doubling annually, it’s been more like 50-75% on a sustained basis. And that rate doesn’t get us near a factor of 1000, but instead just 50-250. Yet with the bits from video in higher and higher definition plus the rising ability to burn bandwidth not just from one’s desk or couch but from practically via the iPhone and all that will follow it, it is probably quite prudent to be ready for traffic growth of 100% annually over the next decade. From the point of view of fiber operators, it would be a really good thing also – assuming prices don’t fall by 50% to match.
Let’s hope he’s right about the 1000x, and that they get started on it quickly. Or maybe we can get up to just 150% growth per year, that would mean an internet 10,000 times the size of today’s when 2020 rolls around. Exponentials can be fun.
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