The delivery of these services will not just be dependant on new formats and programming, but also on the mediums that deliver them. For this to happen, certain changes will need to take place, not just technological, but legal as well. Protection of consumers needs to be examined, as well as considerations such as copyright protection and piracy prevention. The unmanaged nature of the Internet also makes it the ideal medium for scams and schemes-hard to control, and often even harder to identify the people behind them.
The Transport of the Future
With the Internet being used in more and more different ways, not only will the speed need to be improved, the functionality will need to be examined. One of the biggest concerns facing the Internet is the depletion of computer addresses. As each device that is connected to the Internet needs a unique address, known as the IP address, the more devices that are connected the more addresses are required. The protocol that is used on the Internet today,TCP/IP, dates back over 20 years, and has been a faithful and reliable servant, but is now insufficient for current needs in terms of both technology and capacity. The current version, IPv4, has almost run out of addresses. To alleviate the problem, the Internet community has been working on the development of a new version of IPv6 that will offer more addresses, better security, and improved handling of multimedia applications.
The transition to IPv6 is likely to be a leisurely and smooth procedure, as hardware and software manufacturers are working hard to find a method of migration that will allow existing network devices and computers to "talk" to the new version. Even so, it is highly likely that anyone entering the IT industry at the beginning of the 21st century is going to hear a great deal about IPv6.
It's a Wireless World
As well as using conventional methods to connect to the Internet, wireless access will also become a common approach. Although we already have wireless data devices, the wireless computing industry is still in its relative infancy. With wireless transmission speeds developing at a rapid rate, coupled with the availability of wireless data services, this is one area of technology that is sure to become a big mover. Even now, hand-held computers or Personal Digital Assistants are becoming commonplace.
Doing Your Homework
The boundaries between companies' Internal network and the Internet will become blurred, and the skills to manage that boundary will become high in demand.The increase in speed for home Internet access through cable, DSL, and satellite will further drive telecommuting, creating a need for engineers and systems analysts who can diagnose and repair a problem with a PC remotely. These same engineers will need to have a deep understanding of network technologies and the Internet, as companies come to rely on email and videoconferencing not just as a luxury, but as a necessity.
The Ultimate Directory
With networks and the Internet growing ever larger, we will need to find new ways to manage the large volumes of users that are connected to them. The use of directory services systems and technologies such as XML will become commonplace, as we have the functionality to electronically contact and connect to anyone connected to the Internet.
When 1Ghz Is Just Not Enough
The personal computer will get progressively more powerful. Already processors are available that process data at 1 Ghz. Strangely, for home PCs at least, the driving force behind PCs is games and multimedia. These are two areas that will have strong growth for IT careers in the coming years. As computers do more and more for us in the workplace, we will be looking for ways for them to do more for us in the home as well.
The Only Sure Thing
One thing is certain. Although we can predict generally the direction in which the IT industry is headed, there can be no surefire way to predict exactly what will happen in the coming years. It's just one of the reasons why a career in IT is so exciting!
The IT industry has come a long way since digital computing was first introduced in the mid 1940s. From mainframe to PC, from ARPAnet to the World Wide Web, each decade has brought with it technical advances that offer new challenges and opportunities for those working in IT.
Technology continues to advance, constantly changing how we work, where we work, and the skills we need to work. What the future holds for IT is impossible to predict, but it's guaranteed to be a wild ride.