The Internet is a remarkable catalyst for creativity, collaboration and innovation providing us today with amazing possibilities that just two decades ago it would have been impossible to imagine; and yet we are not amazed! It is only 20 years ago that Tim Berners-Lee invented the Web and two years later, CERN publicized the new World Wide Web project. If one could take a trip back in time with a time machine and say to people that today even a child can access for free a satellite image of any place on earth, interact with other people from anywhere and query trillions of data all over the globe with a simple click on his/her computer they would have said that this is science fiction!
Our challenge today is to prepare a similar trip into the future: what will be the Internet in ten-twenty years from now and what more amazing things will it offer to people? But before trying to see how the future will look like, we need to consider some important challenges that the Internet faces today.
If we consider Internet like one big machine, we should note that it has been working all these years without witnessing a major overall failure, showing a remarkable resilience for a human-made technology. However, Internet provides its services on the basis of “best effort” (i.e. there is no guarantee of delivering those services) and “over provisioning” (i.e. to be sure that we get a certain quality of services we need to keep available all time an important amount of resources). Internet was never designed to serve massive scale applications with guaranteed quality of service and security. Emerging technologies like streaming high quality video and running 3D applications face severe constraints to run seamlessly anytime, everywhere, with good quality of services. Thus, if we want to continue the growth, improve the quality and provide the affordable basic access, new business models have to be put in place to make Internet sustainable.
European scientists proved that they are at the forefront of internet research already since the invention of the web. But the challenges are huge and complex and cannot be dealt in isolation. The European Future Internet Assembly is the vehicle to a fruitful scientific dialogue bringing together the different scientific disciplines that contribute to the Future Internet development with scientists from more than 90 research projects funded until today with about 300 million euros under the 7th Framework Programme. Another 400 million euros will be made available in the near future. These amounts coupled with private investments bring the total investment to more than a billion euros. This is an important investment showing Europe's commitment to address the challenges of the future Internet.
This book is a peer-reviewed collection of scientific papers addressing some of the challenges ahead that will shape the Internet of the Future. The selected papers are representative of the research carried out by EU-funded projects in the field. European scientists are working hard to make the journey to the Future Internet as exciting and as fruitful as was the trip that brought us the amazing achievements of today. We invite you to read their visions and join them in their effort so Europe can fully benefit from the exciting opportunities in front of us.
Mário Campolargo, Director F – Emerging Technologies and Infrastructures
João Da Silva, Director D – Converged Networks and Services