When I started my engineering career, my team at Tektronix was thrilled to implement 1 Mbps Ethernet. When I was CEO of Ixia in 2010, we introduced the world’s first 100 Gbps Ethernet. In 30 years, we achieved a 100,000x improvement in network speed.
Very few technologies have accelerated as quickly as networks, and the job of evolving infrastructure is far from complete. It will continue to iterate and evolve with the increasing demand on networks to flawlessly perform tasks that were once unimaginable – telemedicine, distance learning, rapid respond in disaster situations. Networks are fundamental to the well-being of the human race. But as with any of life’s infrastructural elements, networks can be taken for granted.
After reading Silicon Valley’s Youth Problem in The New York Times, I am reminded of how problematic a lack of focus and spotlight on networks can be for realizing the mobile, connected, Internet of Things future we imagine. Writer Yiren Lu argues that by prioritizing working at high-profile, consumer-facing tech companies versus a semiconductor or data storage company, young engineers are neglecting the work that needs to be done on the nuts and bolts of Web 2.0. She writes: “Without a good router to provide reliable Wi-Fi, your Dropbox file-sharing application is not going to sync; without Nvidia’s graphics processing unit, your BuzzFeed GIF is not going to make anyone laugh.” No argument there – these are facts.
Today, I see young people putting a lot of pressure on themselves to succeed quickly, which rob them of the joy of the journey and constancy of purpose that I have been fortunate to experience throughout my career. Through focusing on networks at the various companies I’ve worked at, I came to view networks as the glue of technology. Being a part of their evolution and making networks more affordable and reliable enough to Connect the Unconnected™ will undoubtedly be the highlight of my working life. Networks have evolved in such a manner that what used to only be for wealthy, multinational companies is now within the means of every person on the planet.
For this to happen, networks had to not only become more affordable, but also more useful. If you are reading this now, you are well aware of how enabling a failsafe, speedy network is in your life – we want to make the online experience you are currently having a part of every global citizen’s daily life by continuing to do our work of making networks more reliable, scalable, productive and affordable.