Web3, the de-globalised internet & the future of global internet providers
Article by Expereo solutions archtiect Michelle Parreno.
Experts are calling it the end of the internet as we know it. The year of the splinternet is upon us. The shattering of cyberspace from its universal, uncensored origins into what’s been dubbed a “state-wide-web” is all over the news, and the much touted transformation of the internet into Web3, the decentralised blockchain internet, has just as many supporters as doubters. The internet is changing, and global enterprises will need to adapt.
In a splinternet world, the battle lines of the internet would be drawn along the borders of nation states, each vying for control over the information landscape. In some places, this is already the case; the Great Firewall of China, and the EU’s GDPR both represent attempts by nation-states to regulate the internet along geopolitical lines. Intention aside, both result in varying degrees of limitations to access and content. And what of the power of the global content platforms that may attempt to use their pulling power to break away from an increasingly complex, and regulated internet landscape?
Rather than carve the internet up along state lines, Web3 would see the internet collapse into millions of mini-internets managed via blockchain. Web3 would pull the internet in the opposite direction. By decentralising its ownership and dispersing that ownership around the globe via blockchain, Web3 makes access limits, or centralised control of the internet, more difficult.
Keeping the internet global
A tectonic shift in the fabric of the internet necessitates an equal response from businesses. Fundamental structural adjustments are necessary. Strong connectivity policies and processes are the backbone of productivity in the modern global enterprise. What companies don’t want are disruption and network issues, productivity losses and lagging applications as global teams attempt to navigate the growing complexity of global connectivity.
Specialist enterprise internet providers have made it their business to help enterprises get the most out of the internet, by offering the best, safest and fastest connections available, wherever their employees are located. The uncertainty engendered by change, and the unpredictability of the current global connectivity landscape, mean the expertise that ensures top tier connectivity is at a premium.
Change brings opportunity
Innovators in the field currently offer holistic and tailored solutions to accelerate enterprise digital transformation by taking advantage of the productivity boon of cloud-based enterprise networking. Providers bolster their underlays with the latest advancements in SD-WAN and Cloud Fabric overlay architecture. In the Web 2.0 era, the deployment of these innovations has facilitated a seamless global internet experience for enterprises working across multiple regions. Workers can work from anywhere, and may hardly notice the difference compared to their head office. Any changes to the fundamental structure of the internet mean that enterprises, and their internet providers, will need to adapt.
Web3 promises to be another step forward for enterprise productivity gains. In Web3 application platforms accessed by public users will not be owned by a single entity on a single set of servers and routers following a standard BGP routing protocol. In Web 2.0, if there was any issue or outbreak with an entity’s infrastructure, it could affect huge areas of the service. In Web3 the ownership of the servers would be spread across several blockchain-managed nodes located in different countries, via a distributed ledger. If one drops out, the others can prop the service up. Beyond this, using the ledger to authenticate and secure data would facilitate, in theory, easier, safer communication between devices and machines.
Global internet providers come into their own here. In Web3 there could be millions of ‘owners’ of applications, with the underlying connectivity handled via blockchain. Though a Web3 internet should operate much faster, More nodes ultimately means more connections. Communication between all of these nodes would be a complex matter requiring an optimised overlay.
For enterprise internet providers, the splinternet and Web3 are an opportunity, not a threat, even as business as usual operations will need to adapt. They’re uniquely placed to bring order to the chaos of a decentralised internet, and an uncertain political future.
The digital is the political
As global internet providers, it's our goal to ensure businesses in all countries can utilise the world wide web without sacrificing productivity. We ensure that they can access a higher tier of internet connection despite growing limitations, firewalls and filters.
Even as the internet fragments along political lines, the tech itself remains politically agnostic. State-based firewalls evoke monumental images, but a good global internet provider will be able to sidestep them using owned hubs and collaboration with state providers. Through a cocktail of intelligent infrastructure, international experience, and local expertise, providers can still offer digital neutrality in a politicised internet.
The evolution of technology also has a key role to play. In situations where controls are in place on physical infrastructure at the last mile before data exits the country, these controls are built into that infrastructure. Should that infrastructure become obsolete under a Web3 style global internet regime, then those controls and limitations could be overcome.
So how can businesses thrive in the internet of the future?
Web3 is still a new concept for the majority of the public. It’s mostly understood by tech people and digital currency investors that are enthusiastic about blockchain. However, the efficiency gains it provides mean that it will, inevitably, be incorporated into our existing internet structure, by hook or by crook.
With Web3 adaptation, public applications would rely on several nodes and servers across different countries. Enterprise connectivity providers can future-proof by working on improving global infrastructure and connecting POPs to create a global, splinternet resistant, Web3-ready connectivity backbone.
By mixing a connectivity backbone with accelerated performance, Cloud Fabric architecture, an SD-WAN overlay, and the regulatory and local expertise needed to smooth out the inter-state bumps in global connectivity, enterprise internet can be the glue that holds the internet together. By applying a Web3-ready overlay to their connectivity infrastructure, the growing number of enterprises that choose to incorporate Web3 elements can maximise the benefits of doing so.