The End of the Open Internet

There was time when nobody took anything you said seriously in an email, or SMS message for that matter. From a legal point of view most companies included a release which included a waiver of liability message at the bottom of each email stating that they don’t enter into contracts by email and if the message was sent to the incorrect recipient then please delete it.

The average office was awash with politically incorrect emails circulating around the corporate world. Sometimes they were amusing, often offensive but generally good natured, whatever the content we just deleted them and got on with our day. However, as the transition continued from printed to electronic media, the responsibility of the written word also changed.

Social and Electronic media
Today, electronic media has become the noose in which to hang ourselves. In the old days, if you had a bad day at work you would sit down and bash out an angry resignation letter to your boss. Then think about what you had just written while searching for an envelope, and completely change your mind before you made the fatal mistake of leaving it in his or her in tray. Even if you did so, and changed your mind once you got home, you could still arrive extra early in the morning and retrieve it before damage was done.

But not today, as soon as you hit the send button you have just committed the message to the ether and nothing can save you. Politicians, sports celebrities, you and me, no one is immune, there is no second chance. The situation has become exasperated with the growth of social media. For politicians, celebrities and the like, social media is a double edged sword. On one hand it provides instant feedback from a huge number of people as to how you are performing. But make the fatal mistake of sending the wrong tweet, or uploading the wrong picture to your Facebook page and suddenly both your professional and personal life takes a tumble. Behave irresponsibly on a night out and you can almost guarantee someone has snapped tell all pictures and uploaded them to a social media site which is pushed out to thousands of followers, even before the party has finished. This does almost seem like George Orwell’s 1984, but played in reverse. It’s not that electronic media is contractually binding, or implies an obligation on the part of the individual in any way, but sets a trend of behavior expected by a jury of your peers.

Freedom of Speech
The Internet as we know it today is a transport mechanism. It doesn’t distinguish between good or bad. The foundation of the applications which were developed to run on top of this transport were always intended to be a based upon freedom of speech and free of censorship restrictions. So why is there so much talk today about censoring and controlling the Internet with litigation?

Before the social media revolution most governments (in the west at least) were reluctant to impose any sort of controls on the Internet. Most politicians thought of the Internet as a large electronic encyclopedia, a research tool, or a source of dirty pictures. But along came social media which allowed splinter opposition groups to grow, become organized, and before long coordinated riots broke out across the United Kingdom and governments in Egypt and Tunisia tumbled. The U.S state department reeled in response to the leaked interoffice cables published by Wikileaks, and the Internet demonstrated its power to motivate people and bring about change in a entirely new way.

Western governments have always enjoyed a certain amount of control over the media. Carefully chosen press releases are fed to news organizations, who are either dependent on advertising revenues or are part of a large multinational conglomerate, who in turn have their own political agenda. Whatever the case, mainstream news, is very guarded about what is reported and when. But the Internet allows news to be broadcast instantly, anonymously and without prejudice. The mainstream news organizations are often forced to play catch up on viral Internet news, or risk appearing redundant.

Internet Piracy
The days of needing physical media for either listening to music or watching a movie have pretty much given way to on-line media. Before Internet piracy, police would raid illegal VHS or DVD duplication operations seize equipment, individuals and the content owners could rest easy that their intellectual property was safe. Today, content piracy is rife; media is replicated across the Internet minutes after being officially released. Indeed, both music and video stores have all but vanished from the high street, and on-line music and digital media stores have replaced this revenue stream altogether, however the industry is losing millions, if not billions each year to the file sharing pirates.

It is this guise of Internet piracy protection in which governments are using as the catalyst to put in place controls on content, which make service providers, search engines, and anyone else in the path accountable for maintaining links or transporting traffic of an illegal nature. This is a battle which if successful would erode into the margins on service providers and content search farms alike. Hence lobbying from both sides is intense.

The piracy argument will be the catalyst for controlling the Internet, but the real reason will be curbing social media networks from organizing chaos. A strategy based on creating legislation which makes social media networks and service providers accountable for the activities of their users, reduces the burden on the governments to moderate and monitor user activity. Regardless, most governments today whether they admit it or not, have in place Internet kill switch contingencies, so if the situation arises, stopping the Internet is akin to blowing up the radio transmitter during the war time days of the early 20th century.

The controlled Internet
What we are risking is a repeat of the mid 1990’s where organizations like AOL and MSN realized that a global Internet portal with structured content governed and controlled was the answer to the unstructured, untrustworthy pages of information on the Internet, which allowed both AOL and MSN to thrive during the early years of the Internet. Of course once the rest of the Internet became better organized it was quickly realized that unlimited flexibility of the Internet was far more desirable than the rigid structure of these portals. But ultimately this is what we face as the alternative if censorship on content, activity and opinions are successful.

Going underground
If this did happen there is a real risk of parallel Internet’s being created?
With the advent of VPN technologies designed to connect remote workers back to their corporate offices, VPNs could also form the basis of private Internet rings where users circumvent protection mechanisms put in place by connecting to private server resources which would become the foundation of the underground Internet. This would become a cat and mouse game where authorities would infiltrate the private ring, attempt to shut it down and then the pass-phrase or security token changes, or a new ring is created and the process starts again.

In life more often than not, it is the minority who ruin things for the majority, the vast bulk of people on the planet who use the Internet on a daily basis don’t organize revolutions or actively engage in illegal activity, but ultimately the few that do, could create such ripples through society that the universally free Internet that we know today ceases to exist.

Internet Marketing – How to Start As a Beginner

Internet marketing is like every other businesses, except that internet marketing is done strictly online without need for any physical transactions or physical contacts with buyers.

As the internet marketing business is now thriving like never before, more people wish to establish them themselves in this business. Internet marketing involves the buying, selling and distribution of a product or service on the Internet. Internet marketing has, over the years, become one of the most dynamic and fastest growing businesses throughout the world. The main reason for this growth is its availability in the world to millions (if not billions) of people. It is not easy to learn the basics of Internet marketing. However, it is also not beyond the beginners’ ability to learn rapidly: anyone with passion to do successful business on the internet can do this.

Basically, there are four areas we need to look at:

Website Design

Designing a website is one of the basic skills you must possess before becoming an internet marketer. It used to be a requirement to have knowledge of HTML, CSS, XML, and other web design software languages. If you do possess these skills, you are be able to create websites according to your precise specifications. Apart from having these skills, you can join a website design platform (of which there are too many to go into here). These often have “drag and drop” templates. This will allow you to put up a very attractive website in almost no time at all.

These website templates are straight forward, and most have been designed for people who do not have the technical “computer language” skills to do their own programming. If the design of a website is not something you are good at, you can hire a good web designer to do the job for you.

Software Development

The development of software is another category in Internet marketing business. In this category, you develop a tool (or software) according to a customers’ specifications and preferences. This is a difficult task because it requires complex inputs (and something simple like a single comma instead of a period will actually stop the software from working)!

Development of websites is an easier skill to master than this. Some blog or website owners do require the service of software/apps developers from time to time. If you have this type of skill set, you can make good money by offering this service to customers across the globe. Such development may also include setting up the contents of websites, helping people with affiliate marketing, blogging, etc.

Advertising of Products or Services

This is arguably the easiest of all internet marketing techniques. Advertising uses techniques such as search engine optimization, as well as the use of popular blogs/websites to improve ad visibility. The ads are usually posted on websites that have greater use and get a lot of traffic. Examples of advertisements are visible on both Google and Facebook.

The skills to do this are easy to learn and even easier to set up. This type of marketing is preferred by many internet marketers over the website design and software development styles of marketing.

Truly, all you need do is learn how to set up a blog or website and begin to send traffic to it. Once you begin to receive a substantial amount of traffic, you apply to an Ads Company to advertise on your website. Google AdSense, Facebook ads, and propeller ads, are good examples for you to look into. Search engine optimization and the placement of banner ads are excellent examples of internet advertising.

Selling of Products and Services

Probably the largest and most popular way to begin a career in Internet Marketing is by selling a product or service. Selling on the Internet is the most searchable opportunity and is a precondition for any internet marketing business. Most direct sales companies are now tending towards using the Internet as well. You will find that the majority of my articles, blog posts and YouTube videos are centered around this niche of Internet Marketing.

Although there are many, many marketers in this niche (and you may think there is “too much competition”- but you would be wrong!) the opportunities are truly endless. Selling products or services is basically a strategy that can reach a larger audience with fewer expenses.

Sales are made using email marketing, social media and websites. The method of selling depends on the company and the type of business or products you are trying to sell, as well as different methods of approaching your prospective clients. You can sign up to offer products through one of the auction sites on the internet (such as Amazon or E-bay) and earn smaller commissions with less overhead. Or, you can offer products directly and cut out the middle man! You can develop your own products very easily and keep all the profits. Or sign up affiliates to market and sell your products for you and pay them a commission and you keep the profits from that! (We will get into this in later articles).

Anyone planning on entering the internet marketing niche should learn at least one of the skills listed above as well as offer a product or service for sale. Internet business is just like every other business. In order for you to be successful, you must look at this as a job and not just fun. Make your business plan; plan your business; earn your money – but more importantly, offer a product or service that will leave the world a better place!

Using Old Technology to Win Product Battles

Newer, faster, shinier – these are all things that every product manager wants their product to be. Our hearts are filled with product lust when we see other products, in our space or not, that have the latest & greatest bells and whistles. Oh if only our product could have that cool new technology also. Hang on a minute, it turns out that our products might actually be more successful if they don’t have that cool new technology…

Life Support For Products
If we can get over that new technology lust thing, then perhaps we can talk rationally about this. It turns out that if you really want to help your company’s bottom line, then what your product might really need is incremental innovation, not revolutionary innovation.

I’m not a dreamer – I know that VHS tapes, typewriters, and CRT televisions are not going to be making a sudden comeback anytime soon. The harsh, cold reality is that the technology that your product is based on is eventually going to up and die one day. A product manager’s job is to realize this and to attempt to push that day off into the future as far as he / she possibly can.

Harvard’s Dr. Mary Tripsas has looked into just how this can be done. She believes that product managers can work to proactively manage the innovation endgame.

What this means for your product is that continuing improvements to extend the life of its technology, particularly once you realize just how attractive the profit margins on the old technology are, can be a wise business decision – and not necessarily a reflection of narrow-mindedness of a product manager who is unwilling to see the future.

Making The Technology Jump – Or Not
Ultimately a product manger is responsible for the success of his / her product. When it comes to the technology that the product is build using, the product manager’s #1 goal has to be to find ways to extend the life of the product while still continuing to make the maximum amount of profit.

As a new technology arrives on the scene, the product manager needs to keep the old product alive long enough that the company can design, develop, and launch new products that contain the new technologies. The key is to finding out HOW to go about doing this.

Customers Come First
The secret to knowing how best to time your jump to a new technology is to watch your customers. Our customers come in all shapes and sizes and they all have different levels of tolerance for dealing with the risk that new technologies can bring to the table.

What you need to realize as a product manager is that your customers are all going to be moving at different speeds. Sure, some will start asking about a new technology the first time that they read about it in a trade rag; however, the vast majority of your customers are more focused on running their business than what technology your product is built on.

Generally, adopting a product that is built using new technology will require a little or a lot of investment on your customer’s part in order to be able to support the new technology. The larger the investment, the longer most of your customers will want to put off making it.

How Product Mangers Can Balance Both Worlds
It is the responsibility of the product manager to come up with ways that your customers can gradually move into the future using new technologies on their own schedule.

One way to do this is to borrow ideas from the new technology and start to incorporate them into the existing old technology product in order to extend its life. An example of this would be the Toyota Prius. It’s really a gasoline car that has a battery that it can use some of the time. The world is not quite ready for an all electric car and so by adding new technology to the type of car that we already have we will be able to get a little closer to the future.

Old products can also be used to create a bridge that will allow customers to travel to the future. These types of products combine elements of both old and new technologies. I own a great example of this type of product: a hybrid VCR / DVD player. As DVD players started to take over the market, I was hesitant to get one because of the enormous investment in children’s movies on VHS tape that I had made. However, the VHS / DVD combo player was the perfect solution for me – I could continue to play my VHS tapes while at the same time I could start to buy DVDs.

Final Thoughts
Product Managers don’t have to rush to incorporate every new technology into their products. Instead, understand your customer and learn when THEY need new technologies to be made available to them.

In the end, a product manager needs to keep a careful balance between the technologies that his / her product currently uses and the new technologies that are arriving on the scene. Your career and the ultimate success of your company depends on the success of new products, but they have to be funded by making keeping your current products successful.

Don’t think of your older products as being so-called “cash cows” that exist to be milked of their profits until they can be discarded. Instead, view them as stepping stones to future products that should be maintained and upgraded for as long as is reasonable in order to maximize profits while at the same time buying the firm time to get products that use the new technology right.

Product managers who can balance the arrive of new technology with extending the life of products that use older technology will have have found yet another way that great product managers make their product(s) fantastically successful.

Dr. Jim Anderson has been a product manger at small start-ups as well as at some of the world’s largest IT shops. Dr. Anderson realizes that for a product to be successful, it takes an entire company working together. He’ll share his insights and guidance on how to make your products a fantastic success.

Effects of Emerging Technologies on the Society

Advancement in technology has made the world go “gaga”. As far as technology is concerned, you can expect the unexpected or imagine the unimaginable. The world has left the stage of crude implementation. Every facet of life has been touched and affected by technology. The bewilderment of everyone is that existing technologies are fast becoming obsolete by the day; courtesy of advancement in technology. This article discusses the effects of emerging technology on the society.

Technology has affected and is still affecting people of all age brackets from all over the world. You can imagine the formats in which toddlers’ toys and items for old people are made these days. They are given touch of modernity to let them have the feel of the innovations the mind of the human person is capable of.

Internet Technology

Let us begin with Information Technology. Gone are the days when people melted for fear of where to get information or data for their usage. Whatever information you think you need has been well written out for you on the Internet. “Internet is the world on the computer”. The internet has a wealth of information on every area of human endeavour. It is a safe place of consultation or reference for students as well as professors. The internet is a place individuals and enterprise run to locate the information they need. For instance, when you need any service, just log into the Internet, and you will see one million and one individuals and organisations who render such services. Whatever it is you need, you can find it on the internet.

The world wide web as an aspect of technological advancement, has made the production and sharing of information a breeze. With the proper use of the internet, businesses that took “ages” to be accomplished are now executed within a twinkle of an eye. Even though the internet has numerous advantages, it has some disadvantages too. A lot of unhealthy materials are available on the internet. And these to the detriment of innocent minds. In as much as good people post relevant information on the net for the use of those who need them, people with bad intentions also post harmful materials on the internet. Materials on how to indulge in bad things abound on the internet. This is because a large part of the internet is not censored.

Technological advancements have positive and negative effects on us. Let us talk about other facets of latest technologies and their effects.

Nano technology

Nano technology, like the Internet technology is spreading like a wild fire and its future effects are unimaginable. Nano technology spreads through large parts of human life. In the area of human health, nano technology is used for the treatment of cancer. It is used through the infrared to dismantle cancer tumors. Besides the health sector where nano technology has proved its relevance, it is also a force in the electronic sector. With nano, devices or applications of different types and sizes can be built. As a matter of fact, the military seems to be using the nano technology than anyone else. They are projecting its usage for combat, espionage and so forth. Nano technology has unimaginable possibilities. If care is not taken, without nano technology, a lot of damages could be achieved. And the world that has been built for many years might be destroyed within a few moment.

Energy Technology

So much has come out under this category. We have the solar energy, the wind powered plants, hydrogen battery technology. These have proved really useful in place of their alternative technologies. They have helped to break monopoly of various power sectors. Many homes in the US and Europe power their homes with solar energy. This and others are fruits of alternative energy. As good as these are, they come with some environmental hazards. They generate a level of pollutions in our environments like air and water pollution and heat generation to mention but a few.

In a nutshell, as good and important as modern technologies are, efforts should be made to curb their negative impacts. Whenever there is a technological innovation, efforts should be made to forestall its negative impacts on the society.

Top 7 Software Testing Myths

Nowadays, the user experience delivered by a software application determines its popularity and profitability. The user experience delivered by an application depends on its accessibility, functionality, performance, usability, and security across various devices and platforms. Hence, it becomes essential for enterprises to focus on the quality and user experience of their applications throughout the software development lifecycle.

Many enterprises nowadays implement formal software testing strategy to launch a high quality software application. Also, many businesses nowadays test the software continuously and under real user conditions. But several entrepreneurs still do not realize the importance of testing in the software development lifecycle, and the benefits of testing the software early and continuously. They are still sceptical about the benefits of software testing and believe several software testing myths.

Decoding 7 Common Myths about Software Testing

1) Testing Increases a Software Application’s Time to Market

While developing a new software application, enterprises explore ways to beat completion by reducing its time to market. The QA professionals have to invest both time and effort to evaluate the software’s quality under varying conditions and according to predefined requirements. That is why; many businesses believe that the software testing process increases the product’s time to market. But each enterprise has several options to get its software tested elaborately without increasing its time to market. A business can easily reduce testing time by automating various testing activities. Also, it can implement agile methodology to unify the coding and testing process seamlessly.

2) Testing Increases Software Development Cost

An enterprise has to deploy skilled testers and invest in robust test automation tools to evaluate the quality of the software comprehensively. That is why; many entrepreneurs believe that software testing increases software development cost significantly. But an enterprise can reduce software testing cost in a number of ways. It can opt for open source and free test automation tools to reduce both testing time and cost. Also, the software testing results will help the business to generate more revenue by launching a high quality software application, in addition to avoiding maintenance and correction cost.

3) Test Automation Makes Manual Testing Obsolete

The test automation tools help QA professionals to execute and repeat a variety of tests without putting extra time and effort. Hence, many enterprises explore ways to automate all testing activities. The entrepreneurs often ignore the shortcomings of various test automation tools. They forget the simple fact that test automation tools lack the capability to imagine and make decisions. Unlike human testers, the test automation tools cannot assess an application’s usability and user experience precisely. Nowadays, a software application must deliver optimal user experience to become popular and profitable. Hence, an enterprise must combine human testers and test automation tools to assess the quality of its software more precisely.

4) Elaborate Testing Makes an Application Flawless

While testing a software application, testers perform a variety of tests to evaluate its accessibility, functionality, performance, usability, security, and user experience. They even identify and repair all defects and performance issues in the software before its release. The test results also help enterprises to decide if the software meets all predefined requirements. But the user experience delivered by an application may differ according to user conditions and environments. The testers cannot identify all bugs or defects in an application despite performing and repeating many tests. Hence, the business must be prepared to get the bugs or issues found in the application after its release.

5) Developers are not required to Test the Software

An enterprise must deploy skilled QA professionals to get the quality of its software assesses thoroughly and effectively. But it can always accelerate the software testing process by making the programmers and testers work together. The developers can further assess the quality of application code by performing unit testing and integration testing throughout the coding process. Likewise, they must perform sanity testing to ensure that the software is functioning according to predefined requirements. Agile methodology further requires enterprises to unify software development and testing activities to deliver high quality software applications. The project management approach requires businesses to test the software continuously by a team consisting both programmers and testers.

6) Testing Process Commences after Software Development Process

The conventional waterfall model allows business to start the software testing process after completing the software development process. But the conventional software testing model does not meet the requirements of complex and cross-platform software applications. A steady increase is being noted in the number of enterprises switching from waterfall models to agile methodology and DevOps. As mentioned earlier, agile methodology required businesses to test the software continuously, along with making the programmers and testers work as a single team. Likewise, DevOps requires businesses to unify software development, testing, and deployment processes. Hence, the testers nowadays start testing an application from the initial phase of the software development lifecycle.

7) No Need to Deploy Skilled Software Testers

Many entrepreneurs still believe that the only task of a testing professional is to find bugs or defects in an application. The even do not consider software testing requires skill and creativity. The misconception often makes businesses get their software tested by random people. An enterprise can involve real users in the software testing process to assess the application’s usability and user experience more effectively. But it must deploy skilled testers to get the software evaluated under varying user conditions and environments. The skilled testers understand how to identify the defects and performance issues in the software by creating many test scenarios. The even produce elaborate test results to facilitate the decision making process.

Most enterprises nowadays want to generate more revenue by launching software applications that deliver optimal user experience. Hence, they implement formal software QA testing strategy to launch an application without any critical defects or performance issues. Likewise, many enterprises even implement agile methodology or DevOps to evaluate the application throughout the software development lifecycle. An entrepreneur can always gather information and quantitative data from various sources to verify these common software testing myths and misconceptions.

What Is the Value of Software Testing?

I am often asked what I do for a living. As a trainer and consultant in the field of software testing, I have to explain the field and practice of software testing in some creative ways, such as:

I help people find bugs in software before it goes out to you.

I am a “test pilot” for software.

I am like a software bug exterminator.

I can also point to recent news, such as the failure of the Obamacare website and say, “I try to help companies avoid this kind of problem.”

Here is the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) definition: “The process consisting of all life cycle activities, both static and dynamic, concerned with planning, preparation and evaluation of software products and related work products to determine that they satisfy specified requirements, to demonstrate that they are fit for purpose and to detect defects.”

In actuality, software testing is also system testing, since you need hardware to test software.

The interesting thing to me about the ISTQB definition is that it describes a process that occurs throughout a software project. However, as a customer of software, you can test the software you want to buy before you buy it.

For example, if you want to buy a personal finance application, you can download trial versions of various products and see which one meets your needs best. This is what is meant by being “fit for purpose.” Perhaps all the applications you try are functionally correct, but some may be too complex or too simple.

Some people see software testing as the process of finding defects (or bugs).

However, I suggest that the greatest value of software testing is to provide information about software, such as defects, performance, usability, security, and other areas.

Another way to see software testing is “quality control” for software. Like in manufacturing where the QC people look for defects in products, software testers look for defects in a software product.

Unfortunately, too few companies and organizations see the value to software quality, so they release buggy software to their customers. These defects cost time, money and result in a lot of frustration. Just think of the last time you experienced a software problem. Perhaps your word processing software crashed while you were writing something and you lost the last 15 minutes of writing. That is frustrating.

In business, software defects have caused people to die, and for huge amounts of money to be lost. In the Facebook IPO, Nasdaq has had to pay over $80 million to date in fines and restitution to investors. That was due to one software defect (not a glitch), that caused an endless loop condition.

It is impossible to test every condition, but my advice is to at least test the high-risk functions and keep building a set of repeatable tests for the future.

Randy Rice is a thought-leading author, speaker, trainer and consultant in the field of software testing and software quality. He has worked with organizations worldwide to improve the quality of their information systems and optimize their testing processes.
Randy has worked as a full-time IT software professional for over 35 years, with the last 25 devoted to the profession of software testing and quality assurance. He is passionate about helping people build better software so their customers will love their products. Randy is a mentor to many testers and test managers so they can build deep knowledge about software testing and have fulfilling careers.

Software Testing: How Important It Is

A flawed software application can have a huge impact on the developer’s revenue, credibility and reputation in the longer run. So before delivering the software to the client, each company needs to ensure that it is working flawlessly and meeting all requirements or specification of the client. There are many instances when minor flaws in software have resulted in both human and monetary loss. That is why; software testing has already becomes an integral and significant part of the software development life cycle (SDLC).

The agile software development principles further do not consider software development and software testing as two separate processes. The agile methodology emphasizes on the programmers and testers working as a single team, and work together to improve the quality of the software. As an integral part of SDLC, software testing process aims to assess the completeness, correctness and quality of the software before its delivery. At the same time, the test results help businesses to check if the software meets all requirements or specifications of the client.

Why Software Testing is Important for Modern Businesses?

A number of studies have indicated that the cost of fixing bugs in the software increases, if they are not identified and fixed early. When the defects or bugs in the software are detected early, it becomes easier for programmers to eliminate them. That is why; most companies nowadays introduce testing in early phases of SDLC. They further deploy independent QA professionals to assess the software during various stages of development.

Nowadays, IT companies to develop custom and mission-critical software applications. A minor bug in the mission-critical software application can result in both financial and human losses. For instance, a minor flaw in the software used by an aircraft can result in irreparable losses. That is why; the IT company must perform a variety of tests to identify and eliminate all defects, bugs or flaws in the application before it is delivered to the client.

Each modern user has option to choose from thousands of identical software applications. So to keep the users interested and engaged, each enterprise must deliver high quality software. When the software is tested thoroughly and repeatedly, its quality can be assesses more effectively. Based on the test result, the company can launch a high quality product that will stay in the market in the longer run.

Software testing further becomes essential for businesses due to the differences between the development and production environments. While developing the product, programmers focus mainly on its features and functionality. But the features and functionality will have different effect on individual users. When the application is assessed in the testing environment, it becomes easier for QA professionals to assess the user experience accurately. As testing environment and production environment are identical, the performance of the software can be assessed more accurately.

Often clients require developers to include new features in the software during different phases of development. Each time a new feature or functionality is added to the application, the code needs to be tested thoroughly. The QA professionals perform regression testing to ensure that both legacy and new features are working flawlessly. The tests will further help the business to assess the quality of the updated product before it goes live.

The modern websites and web applications must be compatible with multiple operating systems, devices and web browsers. So the enterprises must assess the web application’s performance on various devices, platforms and browsers. The seasoned testers use advanced tools to assess the website’s compatibility across multiple platforms and devices. The test results further help developers to make changes to the code to enhance the website’s compatibility and accessibility.

Many businesses deploy independent QA professionals to protect their goodwill in the competitive market. The online forums and social networks have made it easier for modern users to highlight the defects or flaws in a particular software application. So the enterprise needs to ensure that the end user detects no bugs of flaws. When the software is tested thoroughly, the chances of bugs detected by users are eliminated. Thus, software testing will help developers to impress users and stay in the business over a longer period of time.

With more and more businesses adopting agile development methodologies, software development and testing have now become inseparable processes. Each business has to invest in comprehensive software testing to get higher returns, enhance its reputation, and retain clients.

Flattening The American Internet

Accessing information and interactive resources available around the globe via the Internet is a pretty simple task. In a carefree Internet world, the dynamics of connecting to resources are transparent, and we expect resources we want to access are available through our local Internet service provider. Technical details of connecting to Internet resources are an abstract concept for most, and whatever mechanics happen behind the scenes are not relevant to our everyday use of the network.

Because the Internet is made up of a complex matrix of physical, business and international relationships, how these systems interact and collaborate is actually very important to the end user, as well as to those providing Internet services and content. Of the greatest concern impacting online resources from eBay to the Bank of America is the potential financial pressure brought on by the largest Tier 1 networks. As the only networks in the world having global Internet visibility, these few companies, including AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, Level 3, and Cable and Wireless, facilitate access to the global Internet – a function which people and companies worldwide depend on to ensure small networks and content providers are available through their local service providers.

The Tier 1 world was born at the demise of NSFNet (National Science Foundation Network). In the early days of Internet development, the NSF supported development of a large publicly funded academic and research network throughout the United States, and connecting many foreign academic networks to the US as a hub through the International Connections Manager (ICM Network). As commercial Internet development grew in the early 1990s, the NSF realized it was time to back away from publicly funding the “Internet” and grant contracts to large US carriers to take over responsibility for the former US Domestic backbone and ICM portions of the NSFNet.

Small Internet exchange points (IXPs) were also funded, allowing the large networks taking over NSFNet assets, as well as their own commercial Internets to connect and share Internet traffic. Those network access points (NAPs) were also contracted to the large US carriers, who managed policies for US and International network exchange. The large US carriers ultimately had control of the networks, and were the original Tier 1 Internet providers.

Roadblocks in the Internet Community

Debates around net neutrality highlight some underlying issues. The goal of net neutrality is to preserve the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet. But whether the largest networks use their control to hinder growth and innovation within the Internet-connect business community or impede free access to Internet-connected content sources, they have the power and control which could present challenges to an open Internet environment.

A Tier 1 network, for example, has the power to charge a major content delivery network (CDN) a premium to access its network. This is because the CDN may deliver a very large amount of content traffic into a network, and the Tier 1 network believes they should receive additional compensation to fund additional capacity needed to support content distribution. This premium may be more money than the CDN is willing or able to pay. In turn, if the CDN doesn’t comply, the Tier 1 can ultimately refuse the CDN access to its network and cut its consumers access to the CDN’s content. This applies whether consumers access the Tier 1 directly or if the Tier 1 is the middle-network between consumers and their Tier 2 or 3 networks.

A voice over Internet Protocol Company underscores another potential conflict of interest. Let’s say you’re a consumer of a Tier 1 network that’s also a telephone company and you want to use a VoIP company, such as Vonage. But the Tier 1 doesn’t want the VoIP company to compete with its network and would rather that you use its own telephone product, so the Tier 1 may prevent you from using your VoIP company. In other words, a Tier 1, in developing its own commercial VoIP product, can prevent non-owned VoIP traffic from passing through its network.

While Tier 1 networks hold value for much of the Internet world, they also impose many political and financial barriers on smaller networks, content delivery networks, emerging VoIP companies, online gaming businesses, B2B and online commerce, and entertainment web sites. It is evident that Internet Service Providers (ISPs), CDNs, VoIPs, and many others need an alternative method of communicating with each other – one providing tools to redesign how relationships and interconnections bond the US Internet content and access communities.

Breaking Down Barriers

One objective in building efficiency and the performance needed to deliver content resources to end users is to flatten existing Internet architecture. Whenever possible, you eliminate the Tier 1 Internet networks from participating in the delivery of content resources to end users.

How do we accomplish this task? One option is through development and use of commercial Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), a location where many Internet-enabled networks and content resources meet to interconnect with each other as peers.

According to Wikipedia, an IXP is a physical infrastructure that allows different Internet Service Providers to exchange Internet traffic between their networks (autonomous systems) by means of mutual peering agreements, which allows traffic to be exchanged without cost. An IXP is essentially a physical switch in a carrier hotel or data center with the capacity to connect thousands of networks together, whether content providers or network providers.

Today at the Any2 Exchange, an IXP built within One Wilshire, on a single switch 125 different networks interconnect and are freely able to pass traffic amongst each other without having to go to a Tier 1 for routing. Members pay a small annual fee to the Any2 Exchange for the one-time connection and then benefit from the “peering” relationships among members of the Internet exchange.

Akamai, for example, a large content distribution network company that delivers streaming media and movies on demand, can connect to American Internet Services, a Tier 3 ISP in San Diego, Calif., through a local or regional Internet exchange point such as the Any2 Exchange, the Palo Alto Internet Exchange (PAIX), or other large exchange points operated by data centers and carrier hotels.

When an American Internet Services user wants to watch a movie that’s available on Akamai’s content delivery network, the data is passed directly from Akamai to American Internet Services – and subsequently to the end user – without transiting any other network. Not only has the goal of being less reliant on a Tier 1 been achieved, but the performance is superior because there are no “hops” between the CSP and ISP. Anytime you’re able to cut out the transit network, you increase the end user experience. Plus, it’s more economical, as in moist cases the CDN and ISP have no financial settlement for data exchanged.

The European IXP model, which is more mature and robust than the US model, highlights the important function of IXPs and how an exchange point alone can help influence the net neutrality debate. In Europe, Internet service providers and content delivery networks look to the IXP as their first connection point and if the IXP doesn’t have what they’re looking for, only then will they go to a Tier 1 or large Tier 2. Americans on the other hand, partially due to geographic size

Overall European IXP traffic grew at a rate of 11.05%, compared to America’s rate of 7.44%, according to the European Internet Exchange Association in August 2007. This can be attributed in part to greater member density in Europe – the London Internet Exchange/LINX has more than 275 members – where the larger the addressable community, the larger the traffic exchanged and the more the members want to get involved. After all, network effect (exponential growth of a community) and the “Law of Plentitude” (the idea that once an addressable or social community reaches participation by 15% or greater of a total community, it becomes a risk to not participate in the emerging community) motivate European companies to use IXPs. Additionally, Europeans generally have lower entry costs for participation, giving companies every reason why to participate in the IXP-enabled peering community. If one were to buy access to 275 networks through a Tier 1, the cost would be astronomical, but through a single connection to LINX, one can access 275 networks for a nominal fee. This is why European companies rely on IXPs 60% of the time, and only look to Tier 1 or 2 networks 40% of the time.

In contrast, American ISPs normally look to larger wholesale and Internet transit providers first and then consider reducing their operational expenses via an IXP as a second priority. American ISPs companies use IXPs at a more meager 15% rate, looking to larger wholesale and transit Tier 1 or Tier 2 networks 85% of the time. Still, recent American IXP traffic growth does exceed other regions, such as Japan (+5.85% in August) and the rest of Asia (+4.3% in August), which we believe is a result of increased price pressure on the American IXP industry. Newer IXPs, such as the Any2 Exchange, have lowered entry costs significantly, forcing others to follow suit and encouraging more networks to participate. As the cost of entry to IXPs continues to fall, participation in IXPs will become more common and attractive to all access and CDN networks.

What can we learn from the European model? Participation in an IXP can increase performance, lower operational costs and expenses, as well as bring an additional layer of redundancy and disaster recovery capacity to even the smallest networks. But most important, companies’ independence from Tier 1s through the collective bargaining of the exchange points puts them in a stronger position to deal with large networks than our position allows for in the US, where the vast majority of people have their primary Internet connections through a large Tier 2 or Tier 1 network provider.

Adding to the Cause

Today’s content-rich Internet is just a prelude to the future content, media, applications and services soon to be developed and deployed. It’s no wonder that in large IXPs, such as the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX), there are already several content delivery networks using bundled 10Gbps ports, clearly showing end users’ insatiable demand for high bandwidth applications and services. High Definition Internet TV (IPTV), massive online interactive gaming, video on demand (VOD), and feature-rich communications (video conferencing) are just a few examples of Internet-enabled applications contributing to the heightened demand.

For American ISPs that pay anywhere from $20-to-$40/Mbps when connecting to Tier 1 and Tier 2 networks, the cost of delivering applications and services to end users who require much larger network and bandwidth resources is one of the obstacles that needs to be overcome. But without broad participation in IXPs, access networks have a difficult future, as do content providers who will find that the cost of delivery to end users becomes much more expensive if Tier 1 and Tier 2 networks increase the cost of delivering both wholesale and end user Internet traffic.

What Can the American Internet-Connected Community Do?

Whether through price increases or monopolistic practices, the largest networks are currently writing the rules for a global Internet product. They are gradually merging and acquiring competition, reinforcing their influence in wholesale and transit network share and presence. Opportunities for network peering decrease with each merger.

Carrier hotels and large data centers in the US can support positive change in the Internet peering community by creating or supporting open and low cost Internet Exchange points promoting network peering and content delivery to all networks.

Reducing barriers to entry and the cost of wholesale or transit networks will allow Internet network and content companies to focus on delivering network access and services, with the ultimate winner being end users who will enjoy a lower cost, higher performance Internet experience.

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Sidebar

Networking professionals describe Internet tiers as:

Tier 1 – A network with visibility of every other network and route on the Internet. Tier 1 networks have a unique position within the Internet, as the custodians of global routing. Tier 1 networks attempt to maintain their status by setting high barriers to entry for other large networks attempting to gain similar status. Tier 1 networks rarely peer with other networks, keeping their settlement-free interconnection community restricted to other Tier 1 networks.

Tier 2 – A regional network peering with other regional networks, but still relies on Tier 1 networks to reach at least routes and networks. Tier 2 Internet networks frequently peer at public Internet exchanges to connect to other Tier 2 networks, as well as large content delivery networks. In some cases regional Tier 2 and global Tier 2 networks are actually larger than their Tier 1 networks, with the only limitation being their global network visibility.

Tier 3 – An access network purchasing wholesale Internet access or transit from other larger networks to reach the global Internet. Tier 3s frequently participate in public Internet exchange points to try an minimize the costs associates with buying wholesale and transit routes or access from larger Tier 1 and Tier 2 networks. Tier 3 networks make up the majority of the global Internet, as the Internet access providers whom actually connect with end users.

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