'Trillion-node network' arrives: we need smart design more than ever

'Trillion-node network' arrives: we need smart design more than ever

Summary: We may already have exceeded a trillion nodes. Time for some good architectural and design practices.

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Some big-picture thinking to ponder:

Ten years ago, Peter Lucas, founder of MAYA Design, wrote a prescient white paper on the implications of reaching the "trillion-node network." (MAYA recently posted a video on the topic, which got some attention from John Hagel and others on Twitter.)

Time for smart architectural and design practices

We're getting closer to that reality, or may have even surpassed it by now. The points raised in Lucas' paper bear revisiting, especially with the rapid rise of cloud computing, which spreads processing and information workloads to all points across the globe.

It is estimated that there are now more than 1.7 billion people using the Internet across the globe, along with more than four billion mobile phones out there. IBM's Sandy Carter estimated that we already have "over three trillion things connected into the Internet, "over a billion transistors per person in the world today," and over 30 billion RFID events being generated.

Successfully leveraging such a large global grid is not a technology challenge, but a challenge for smart design, smart architecture and human factors engineering. We see a lot of these discussions today around SOA, cloud, and Web 2.0. The rise of the enterprise architecture discipline within enterprises is an important response to this need.  As Lucas put it back in 1999:

"The Trillion-Node Network will not be designed from the top down, but nor will it emerge entirely on its own. Its evolution will be utterly dependent on the subtle but pervasive effects of a shared consensual style of information architecture. Such a style is not “about” hardware or software or user interfaces. Rather, it is about an emerging ecology of people, information, and devices. This is an agenda for design in its deepest sense. If these arguments are valid, then the emergence of the Trillion-Node Network will inevitably coincide with the emergence of the first mature community of information designers.... Design at this scale cannot rely on engineering discipline alone. It will entail the kind of loose consensus among communities of designers that, in traditional architecture and design, goes under the name of style.”

The inability to deploy and work with such great amounts of information and processing power is not a failure of technology or technical know how, but a failure of imagination a failure of design, and a failure of architecture.

Topics: Networking, Browser, Enterprise Software, Mobility, Security, Software, Software Development, Wi-Fi

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4 comments
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  • Duh .... !

    We can't even feed the population of this planet with all the excess food producing capacity we currently have.
    This is a nice excercise but of little relative importance in comparison.
    kd5auq
  • RE: 'Trillion-node network' arrives: we need smart design more than ever

    There is no doubt in my mind that we have reached the trillion node network on a world wide basis. I believe also that network architecture will be changing dynamically soon with Internet Version 2 going forward.

    Cloud Computing as it is called, will be a tough sell to the public for many reasons, one being that folks don't like running their application on or from the internet. In the case of netbooks, cloud computing is a perfect win/win scenario for them. However, on the Desktop PC's, folks still want to have and own their own software locally. Reliance on the internet infrastructure to deliver applications to desktop users also poses new issues we must consider.

    As Network Engineers, we like "redundancy" in our infrastructure. When you take away the applications from the Desktop PC and place them strictly on the internet for use, you are creating a problem for the end user. If their internet service fails, they won't have the ability to get into those applications on the net. Then there is also the security issues about folks keeping their information on the internet where it can be hacked or illegally taken by government entities via their "back door" software that they would want to have installed on every applications server on the internet. This is getting to be too pervasive and too orwellian.

    No, I am not in favor of cloud computing at any level. Even if there are a trillion nodes out there, that makes information much more easier to abscond away with.

    Personal Privacy and Security should never be compromised on any level by being sold a basket of goods which on the face seem pretty and neat, but have an underlying risk that none of us should be comfortable with. And with Microsoft's history of rushing to market products with huge security holes, I would not be in favor of it until they particularly, reign in their programming skills and start producing products that need little or no patching and that are truly secure.
    Evisscerator
  • RE: 'Trillion-node network' arrives: we need smart design more than ever

    Ok so i left the security business a while ago and since i'm having a hard time finding a good job, i'm thinking about returning to it.<br>The large companies like Allied i worked for had an issue with it.<br>So can anybody tell me what security companies will let me keep my unkempt beard?<br><br> <strong><a href="http://www.allsuretybonds.com/services/commercial-bonds/notary-bonds/">notary bonds</a><strong>
    cris2per
  • RE: 'Trillion-node network' arrives: we need smart design more than ever

    Because almost all of us has access to and is using the internet, designers should anticipate this trend and should provide us better architecture. - <a href="http://philly.citybizlist.com/2/2011/8/17/Unilife-CEO-Alan-Shortall-to-Purchase-up-to-1.0M-in-Company-Shares.aspx">Unilife Alan Shortall</a>
    Alan Shortall