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The next evolution of the Internet: The Shared Web

The next evolution of the Internet: The Shared Web

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

The past decade has seen a massive evolution of the Internet. The early years focused on the Information Web, allowing users to access enormous volumes of data. The Commerce Web followed, giving consumers the ability to transact online. YouTube and Twitter ushered in the Broadcast Web, turning individuals into self-publishers. And today we have the Shared Web, the next iteration that promises to usher in just as much innovation and change.

The Shared Web leverages all of the components of the previous layers but also for the first time provides the ability to deliver real-time, fully shared co-browsing Web experiences.

IN PICTURES: The evolution of the Internet

A number of technology advancements in the core of the Internet are making real-time, intuitive and seamless Web sharing possible. These advancements include:

Web sockets -- enabling native two-way communication between the client and server over a single TCP connection and supporting orders of magnitude more simultaneous and longer-lasting connections.

• In-memory data stores -- allowing applications to access and store their data more quickly, eliminating the overhead of reading and writing to disk.

• Evented Web servers -- allowing calling and responding to client requests without blocking I/O, thus eliminating the waiting game of earlier evolutions and creating a more fully connected experience.

These capabilities represent the enablers for Web sharing and are antiquating today's restrictive and complicated Web collaboration choices.

Native, intuitive, reliable and on-demand

The Web population has surged to more than 2 billion users, and emerging markets, such as mobile and the cloud, are moving more and more transactions to the Internet. Yet, despite this incredible growth, existing Web collaboration solutions -- such as screen sharing -- have remained stagnant and outdated, with cumbersome system requirements that make them difficult and unreliable to implement and use. Enter the Shared Web.

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Instead of an experience that resides on someone else's computer and screen, the Shared Web allows participants to fully share the session in their own browser on their own device. The result is an entirely native experience that is highly intuitive for the user, shifting the focus from technical distractions and concerns to the potential learning or collaboration opportunity at hand.

Instead of requiring complex downloads or plugins, the Shared Web gives users a fast, simple and reliable way to initiate a Web collaboration session -- without any confusing platform requirements.

Instead of one-way interaction, participants are fully engaged in a truly interactive Web session.

And instead of relying on video capture and broadcast of content, the Shared Web displays the actual websites in the browser, giving participants a familiar experience and one that eliminates the "washed out" feeling and look that comes from using a compressed image.

With the Shared Web, customer interactions are enhanced. People in co-browsing sessions see mouse pointers immediately and interact together as if they were seated side-by-side looking at the same screen. Instant and real-time shared Web connections are the norm -- connections that don't require any complicated or time-consuming downloads, Flash or Java Applets. Connections where native Web browsers are completely shared between end users in real time, regardless of the platform or device being used. Connections where participants retain joint control over applications and data is received in real-time with zero latency.

Accelerates cloud, ecom opportunities

Cloud-based technologies are exploding, with research firms predicting that public IT cloud services will reach nearly $73 billion by 2015. Expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28% percent, spending for public IT cloud services is growing at more than four times the rate of worldwide IT market as a whole! [Also see: "Study: Cloud will create 14 million jobs by 2014"]

The Shared Web gives enterprises the ability to leverage these emerging distributed applications to full potential by guaranteeing a seamless and engaging experience for enhanced sales and customer support opportunities. By allowing multiple people to simultaneously access the same page with real-time co-browsing gives unparalleled opportunities for external applications, and enhances better internal processes for co-development of presentations or conferences.

In a highly competitive marketplace, SaaS vendors must differentiate their services. Using a real-time Web-browsing technology, customer support can directly interact with a customer to show them something -- perhaps a process or how to use a specific application -- as if they were standing right next to each other. A highly scalable Web-browsing technology allows participation of multiple users, maximizing training time and resources.

The Shared Web can be leveraged to deliver "Instant Sales" through on-demand demonstrations of product features and use cases, as well as "Instant Support" to help diagnose problems and demonstrate solutions by engaging with customers at the exact point of the problem.

Shared Web experiences also create new opportunities across other industry segments, such as e-commerce. Retail customers regularly seek advice and support from friends and vendors about purchases, but online they rely on anonymous reviews and stale Web content for information. Shared Web browsing enables consumers to seek direct opinions from those in their own networks.

By bringing a shared shopping experience to e-commerce, vendors can provide a highly personalized experience to the consumer -- better reflecting a typical retail experience. With Facebook Connect, Pinterest and Twitter now making their social graphs available, retailers will be able to quickly tap in to the friends and influencers of a buyer.

With native, intuitive, reliable and on-demand co-browsing connectivity, the potential opportunities for new forms of collaboration and engagement are limitless -- both internally and externally. The real-time architecture of the Shared Web has the power to impact all aspects of the Web, enhancing the previous evolutionary layers and allowing users to share all their Web activities for problem solving and developing new business opportunities.

Many complex transactions are moving online. Whether it is a highly customized e-commerce experience or a product that has traditionally been sold face-to-face such as insurance or financial services, customers still desire a personalized and consultative experience in order to make the best decision. Shared Web experiences allow an agent or expert to instantaneously join the process midstream for direct, personal and seamless interaction.

Advancements in underlying technologies have consistently set into motion the astonishing evolution of the Web. With warp-speed power now available to support native and real-time Web sharing on virtually any device, the Internet is embarking on yet another evolution. Climb on board.

GoInstant, the startup that is redefining Web sharing, delivers a patent-pending technology that provides the first "shared" Web-browsing capability for intuitive and real-time collaboration without any downloads or plugins. Customers, partners and colleagues can easily join online sessions, browse the Web and interact fully together as if seated side-by-side, enabling new applications to enhance business through improved customer relations, transaction support and lead generation.

Read more about lan and wan in Network World's LAN & WAN section.


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