Recession: Effects on Internet and Web performance


“Effects of Recession” is the burning topic of the moment and everyone is concerned about cost-cuts and other measures to overcome the crisis. I attended few talks by business leaders on economic collapse and crisis that’s going on. It is fascinating to see how people fail to recognize simple things at right time, especially the so called financial experts. In this blog post, I would like to point out some effects of recession on Internet and how improving your web application performance can help in tackling the situation effectively.

For a company, effective cost-cuts not just mean reducing costs associated with the manufacturing, production, development, testing, advertising and customer support but also needs to make sure that customers feel that it is cost-effective to purchase their products. During this process, there would be many tradeoffs. Most companies recognize that automation of manual work is one of the effective techniques to reduce costs associated with human resources. One would notice lot of work would be done in the field of automation in next few years, probably generating jobs in the automation sector.

Internet can play a very handful role in automating some of the critical processes associated with business. One of the bigger challenges before businesses is driving the teams situated at different geographic locations effectively. Collaboration tools such as SharePoint would add more value in driving the business at reduced costs.There is also a probability that companies would design in-house ad-hoc tools to support their needs. Most of these collaboration tools would make use of Internet to transfer data from one geographic location to another.

Another place where Internet can play an effective role in generating more revenue would be

a. Companies would create online applications to support their customers than agents/executives/support staff helping them resolve issues.

b. Companies would go for cost-effective and innovative online advertising techniques

c. Companies would prefer to create new online applications to lure the customers.

d. Companies would push for cloud computing

From the customer (common man) point of view, the following

e. Customer would prefer to do shopping online than visiting shopping places. This would save fuel costs.

f. Customer would make a trade-off decision between the best product and the cost-effective product. If the best product is too costly, he/she might rather choose a product with lesser functionality at a lower cost.

g. Customers would find Cloud computing as affordable technology

All these will collectively increase the Internet traffic. Internet being a finite resource can only allow traffics up to certain thresholds. If the thresholds are exceeded, it will lead to traffic congestion. If we analyze the growth of Internet in last few decades, there has been substantial amount of investment done on growth of Internet infrastructure. At the same time, even the Internet traffic has grown exponentially.

Internet Infrastructure v/s Internet Demand

It is important that Internet infrastructure should be in a position to handle Internet demand. If there Internet demand or the load on Internet is more than the handling capacity of Internet infrastructure, the effects could be catastrophic. Before economic recession, the growth of Internet infrastructure was more than demand for Internet services, however, there is a possibility that this might not be true after recession.

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Internet service providers have also suffered due to recession and there is possibility that it will effect the growth of Internet infrastructure. If that is the case, it won’t take must time for the balance to swing. There will be more demand for Internet services but the infrastructure won’t be able to handle the demand.

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Below is another reflection of how the demand for Internet services has been compensated with increase in Internet infrastructure in last few decades and how eventually the demand for Internet services might overtake the Growth of Internet infrastructure curve.

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Once a situation is reached where demand for Internet services is more than capacity of the Internet infrastructure, it will results in severe congestion. The packets traveling over wire need to compete with each other in reaching the destination. This is results in severe performance problems. It will take more and more time for packets to reach from web servers to client machines.

How can we avoid this situation?

On one side, there is demand for rich Internet applications whereas there is also a responsibility on all the web application developers to reduce the strain on the Internet. One of the obvious technique is to increase the Internet infrastructure. Fully utilize the optical fiber bandwidths could be one of the solution. There is another very important thing to note here. Whenever, we discuss technology, we often think of locations such as USA, Europe, Japan, etc, whereas there exists major portions of earth where there is no proper Internet connectivity. With the businesses expanding, these developing countries provide new opportunities of increasing the profits. Hence, any new technologies that come up needs to also satisfy the existing situation in these countries.

“Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone.” – Albert Einstein

Yes, essentially, the solution to this problem is very simple. However, it would require a collective effort from every web developer. Congestion occurs either due to bottleneck in network or due to flow of very large data than the capacity of the network. Reducing the data transfer on the Internet can help in increasing the overall performance of the web applications. Some of the simple techniques that can help in solving this problem…

1. Designing applications that would understand the network topology that’s connecting the web-server and client machine and work accordingly would immensely improve the performance.

2. Distributing the web servers across different targeted geographic locations

3. Transferring the data only if needed hence reducing the overall transfer of data

Summary:

Internet is a finite resource and it is the collective responsibility of all Internet users that we do not over-strain it. With recession, there is possibility that growth of Internet infrastructure might be slow and it could result in Internet traffic congestions and degradation of performance of web applications. Adopting simple techniques such as reduction in unnecessary data reduction can immensely help in reducing the strain on Internet infrastructure.

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