November 12, 2014



Permeating every aspect of our lives, the Internet appears to be an advanced element of modern life. In reality, the World Wide Web is a wild frontier leaving chaos in its wake.

David Giannini, co-founder and CEO of CirrusWorks, visited the Southern Piedmont Technology Council’s monthly tech bunch lunch event to discuss the Internet and its invasion into businesses’ operating models.

CirrusWorks, which is based in Danville and Falls Church, is a Launch Place recruit and investment. The company provides its software that manages bandwidth usage at schools, libraries, hospitals and hotels.

“Often technology is just a means to an end. So the best we can do is give them a better, faster, cheaper, simpler way to do their business. I think that’s what technology does. I think that’s the promise of it,” Giannini said as he opened his brief presentation regarding the last five to 15 years and the next five.

In the early 1990s local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN) were highly unstable. It took a long time to accomplish a task on an unreliable network.

Giannini joked that it was easier to save files onto a floppy disk drive and physically walk across the office to deliver the files instead of sending them through the computer.

“The Web only came in ’95. It’s less than 20 years old. It’s all so new,” Giannini said. He mentioned that his children have grown up only knowing the Internet and its associated technologies.

Even with its youthful age, the Internet has advanced rapidly and become an essential part of daily life. Advancements in taking video and photography as well as the wide variety of applications have taken networks by storm.

“Now what we have is utterly uncontrollable and unpredictable,” Giannini said. “So if you have a public venue and everyone’s coming in, you just don’t know what they’re going to do. It’s data chaos. But the peaks of demand are so far exceeding any supply of any available bandwidth.”

That high data, network and bandwidth usage causes a metaphorical traffic jam in the system.

“What is it doing? Congestion, quite literally a data storm and all of it is putting pressure on the local link,” Giannini said.

This congestion can block certain users from achieving necessary tasks. Giannini gave the examples of a client proposal featuring video being delayed or a student’s timed test entering the system late due to congestion.

To alleviate the congestion, networks have begun shaping usage traffic.

“Shaping traffic traditionally means going inside that packet of data identifying what application or protocol it is and then prioritizing it,” he explained. “Typically what they do is they identify bad applications and slow them down.”

The bad applications hog bandwidth to accomplish tasks.

The topic connects with the concept of net neutrality, which is a hot button topic in the political arena. Net neutrality will provide equal access to the Internet and prohibit the prioritization of service to higher-paying customers.

“The problem is it’s somewhat hopelessly naive. The Internet is still somewhat of a wild, wooly place and while you can promise that, delivering that is really much further along,” Giannini said. “Even if you bought five or 50 or 500 [megabytes], that’s a rather artificial number. It’s still a shared network. That’s the nature of the Internet and the World Wide Web.”