Planning & Managing an Internet Service

By Pauline M. Berry


INDEX

  1. INTRODUCTION TO THE INTERNET
    1.1 What is the Internet?
    1.2 History and Growth of the Internet
    1.3 Basic Internet Concepts
    1.4 Principal Internet Applications
    1.5 Introduction to the World Wide Web
  2. Real Business Opportunities
  3. Internet Access - build or buy?
  4. Site Construction
  5. WWW Tools
  6. Internet Issues and Implications
  7. Full Course Index

1. INTRODUCTION TO THE INTERNET

We have all seen reports about superhighways of information, about people browsing cyberspace and about a new and exciting "information society" that is evolving. In fact ,what most of these reports are referring to is the Internet: a vast and loose collaboration of networks, individuals and organisations. It is the phenomenal growth of the Internet that is hitting our headlines and if the present rate of expansion were to continue, everyone on the planet would be connected by early next century. However, the interesting question is not whether the Internet will be large, it already is, but rather how it will evolve, what business opportunities will develop and how it will influence our societies and economies.

1.1 What is the Internet?

An internet, loosely defined, is an interconnection of two or more networks. The Internet is a specific collaboration of networks that allows users at disparate, heterogeneous computer networks to communicate with each other across organisational and geographic boundaries.

"The Internet is now poised for a rapid period of expansion during and beyond the final decade of the 20th Century. As networking, personal computing, workstations, mobile communication and distributed computing become more widespread and as information in digital form becomes a norm, the utility of systems like the Internet will rise dramatically."
Dr. Vinto Cerf, The Internet Society

The Internet is a packet-switched network which is basically a collection of networks throughout the world, although the US has the highest density, most of which are built using the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol(TCP/IP) protocol suite and all of which share a common name and address space.

The Internet exists to facilitate the sharing of resources among participating organisations and individuals. It is estimated that there are between 40 and 60 million people with access to the Internet with over 70 thousand networks assigned unique IP network numbers. The actual physical connection between the various networks which make up the Internet take a variety of forms. The most prevalent are 56Kbps and 1Mbps leased lines but the major backbone networks are connected by lines capable of carrying a massive 45Mbps. These lines are usually paid for by each institution with a dedicated line. However, other links are made via national and local public carriers and the telephone networks. This means that Joe public using a modem from home can correspond with someone across the world for the price of a local telephone call!

Who runs/owns the Internet?

No-one! There is no general overseeing authority for the whole network. Each component network has its own administrative body, policies and rules. However, in reality, certain US government agencies have been more prominent in setting Internet policies and until May 1995 most important decisions came from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Increasingly commercial vendors and large IT and telecommunication companies are making an impact. In addition, a coalition of technically knowledgeable individuals, usually voluntary, guide the development of the Internet, the Internet Society (ISOC). Innovations come from the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) and its task forces and working groups.

The Internet is a co-operating group of independently administrated networks.


1.2 History and Growth of the Internet

The Internet started life as a packet-switching network called ARPANET. It was an experimental project by the US Department of Defence (DoD) to get computers to communicate over wide geographical areas (1969). When, in later years LANs, and WANs, began to proliferate DARPA (Defence Research Projects Agency) began to explore the use of packet switching techniques to communicate with these other types of network. However, ARPANET required a more general set of protocols to allow this goal to be fulfilled so DARPA funded the development of TCP/IP.

In 1983 DARPA required all networks and computers connected to ARPANET to use TCP/IP. Also ARPANET became 2 nets, ARPANET for research and development and MILNET for Military sensitive data. Eventually, ARPANET was dissolved in favour of the NSFNET which employed more up-to-date technology and served the research and academic communities. This led the way for the amazing growth of the Internet. In May 1995 the US government dismantled the NSFNET and large companies such as Alternet, ANS, MCI and Sprint have eagerly stepped in to supply Internet connectivity across the US backbone.

Growth

It is difficult to imagine how big the internet is and how quickly it is growing. In August 1981 there were 213 hosts on the Internet (ARPANET). In October 1984 there were 1,024 hosts. In Jan. 1996 the internet exceeded 9.4 million hosts and it was estimated that between 40 and 60 million users had access to the Internet via these hosts! These numbers are estimates based on Mark Lottor's Domain Survey which counts the overall number of registered host computers connected to the Net. However, these numbers are only rough estimates given that many hosts may be hidden behind firewalls or may be down or disconnected.


1.3 Basic Internet Concepts

To understand the Internet it is first necessary to uncerstand some of the

Basic Internet Concepts:


1.4 Principal Internet Applications

From the Internet user's point of view, access to the network and its services is accomplished by using application programs. It is not really necessary for a user to understand the details of the programs just how to use them. However, the user should have an idea of the standards for their use and the etiquette expected. Some of the most common and widely used application as well as some of particular use to an information scientist or manager are the

Principal Internet Applications:


1.5 What is the WWW?

(next section)


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