Have a look at this piece of web news from MIT Technology Review. They’re saying that already today software can let “anything” link up without a centralized Internet. Well, this is the future SDN at the edge. As Roberto wrote a few days ago, SDN is a way to create and operate virtual networks out of a variety of elements that usually may not even be considered as network elements. Said networks are application-driven, aggregated and disaggregated on-demand, dynamically hooking (at the edge) terminals, any devices, sensors, actuators … and tomorrow “smart things”.
Indeed, one may say, well these are not new ideas: it’s about ad-hoc or mesh networks, automatic networks, etc. Yes, but what’s new today is that the combination of hardware and software progresses with the down-spiraling costs of technology etc. is creating the conditions for anybody (even without being specialist) of creating and operating such viral networks at the edge. We are talking about low cost and high performance hardware coupled with software linking anything. Actually, there is a growing number of open source projects and crowd-funding initiatives empowering people to create such networks using low-cost devices, elements and open source software. Collective intelligence of social networking communities is making this easier and easier. Parallela is a nice example, a project making parallel computing easy to use for all.
See this also from another industrial perspective. The same drivers (cheap standard hardware and software linking anything) are dramatically lowering the potential barriers for other Players (not only OTTs, Technology and Vendor Providers, but even Consumers Electronics Providers and, why not, Communities) to enter the Telco-ICT market and compete with Operators at the edge.
My guess is that in more or less five years, this “control variable”, cheap and high performance hardware and open source software, will trigger a sort of “phase transition” in the Telco-ICT industry, reshaping several biz scenarios and value-chains: at the end it will be a non-linear transformation, helped by technology advances and cost reductions, solving the constrained optimization problems of our Society, as in any natural ecosystem, in evolution. Indeed, maximize profits, minimize costs, minimize losses are typical economics problems, which can be mathematically modelled as “constrained optimizations”, like the ones happening in natural ecosystem.