Our “Back to the Future” Prediction for 2030

by Teresa Lunt, VP and Director of the Computing Science Lab, PARC – a Xerox Company

“Back to the Future” day took the Internet by storm last month. In 1989 Marty McFly and Doc Brown predicted what Oct. 21, 2015 would look like and many of their predictions were correct, including wearables, flat screen TVs, drones and programmable homes. But the classic film failed to predict two technologies that have transformed our lives immensely – the Internet and Mobile. The popularity of “Back to the Future” day made me think about where these two technologies will be in 15 years.

First, let’s take a step back. The Internet was introduced in 1991 and was intended to support a simple path of communication between two machines. It was not designed to be a multimedia distribution network. Nor was it designed to carry exabytes of video, voice, and image data to a variety of devices. Today, our Federal government – and our entire economy – rely on the Internet, but ultimately, this initial design will never be able to increase bandwidth fast enough to keep up with demand. In fact, data demand is exponentially skyrocketing and global IP demand for data is nearing 30 exabytes – or 30 billion gigabytes – per month.

As the inventor of Ethernet and a key contributor to the last two Internet protocol versions, Xerox is already researching how to reengineer the Internet. We believe the next generation of the Internet will be Content-Centric Networking (CCNx).

CCNx is a new networking technology that references information by name rather than where the information is located (i.e., IP addresses), radically changing the way information is stored and transported on public and private networks. For example, a Federal agency creating a repository of citizen records would not need to store the data on a set of secure servers and oversee the connection between those servers and the computer from which a citizen is making a records request. Rather, the agency could encrypt the data down to the packet level, name the data appropriately, and allow the records (and even cached copies of those records) to sit anywhere on the Internet. Rather than transmitting a request for a file on a specific browser or IP address, the citizen’s search would tap the nearest machine with an authentic copy for a response. This minimizes the distance content has to travel to reach the end user, resulting in an efficient, effective, quick and high-bandwidth system that delivers content wherever and whenever needed.

Additional CCNx benefits include:

  • Stronger security – A weakness of today’s network is that information is vulnerable and can’t be directly protected because it relies on endpoint protection or secure connections, resulting in a number of attacks and breaches. In CCNx, packets of information are digitally signed so applications can verify their authenticity and be encrypted for confidentiality and access control, ultimately building security into the network.
  • Simpler application development – A number of services (e., network address translation services, content delivery services, mobility services and web traffic accelerators) have appeared over the past decade to try to fix today’s network. However, these “Band-Aid” fixes increase the complexity involved in building new applications and services. When information is addressed by name versus location, applications are simpler, independent of network deployment and less error-prone.
  • Real time analytics – Cisco estimates that by 2020, more than 50 billion devices and objects will be connected to the Internet. CCNx can greatly simplify the deployment and management of these devices, and consumers, enterprises and governments demanding these intelligent applications can benefit from the fact that storage and processing is built directly into the CCNx network.

The Internet impacts every industry and every aspect of our lives. Xerox is revolutionizing the next generation of the Internet and helping our country work better. For more information about CCNx, visit www.xerox.com/govsolutions.


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