Technology Talk


The Future of Your Internet

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The internet as you know it may be changing soon. It may have already changed for some. Thanks to Martin Casado, cofounder of Nicira, the internet could become more secure, cheaper and more available.

The internet is built on a series and collection of networks. When these networks connect to share information, it forms the internet. In order to connect to this vast network, there is a centralizing server that acts as a doorway and connection point. Servers are used by internet providers like Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Charter Cable.

With these services, people can get online and look up any topic their heart desires. The sheer number of networks it takes to be able to compile the search results and deliver the found information can be astronomical. There are currently hundreds of millions of networks branching out from all over the world. These networks are always connecting to bring you your recipes, games, music, news and online shows.

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The problem with such a vast collection of networks is security. There are many areas that can be hacked into, and not all information is encrypted or coded as it should be.

This was one of the problems facing the United States intelligence agency that approached Casado, asking him to make it possible to close off parts of its large network for security reasons. The closure would be temporary, only long enough to allow sensitive bits of information to pass through securely.

Casado tried, but realized that, with the existing structure, it was not possible. After many years of research and study, Casado found what he felt was a solution to the problem.

By creating a type of software, Casada and his research partners were able to use virtualization. Virtualization is a process that allows software to act as a crucial piece of hardware by acting as a reproduction. This software actually does the job better than the original hardware. With virtualization, in this case, the software replaces the switches and routers that traditionally come as hardware. Routers are what connects networks to other networks, lacing them together with addresses and algorithms. The addresses and algorithms not only mark the placement of these networks, they also determine the shortest route to the network you need.

A switch is something that connects entire groups of networks. Instead of the old-fashioned network hubs, switches use the address to determine where to send the data in transit.

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What this means for you is that the servers your provider uses can become safer, faster and more affordable. There are several companies that are already using this new approach to an old system. While this new system has many excited about the applications for existing and developing technologies, other are worried about what they might lose in the transition. Companies that operate world-wide to produce switches and routers, like Cisco, may suffer some loss or see a lack in production. While Casado wouldn’t comment on this directly, Cisco has been acknowledged in helping Nicira with developing products for the company.

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