Russ White wonders if the resurgence of Walled Gardens on the Internet is bad or a good thing. The long-term rise of Facebook, WeChat, Snapchat and other applications seems to be a sustaining trend.
Previous walled gardens like AOL and CompuServe have been composting for many years. Their unique value was that they owned the network with the dial-up POTS lines in addition to the software. The Internet and simpler access in the form of DSL came much later.
First, companies like Facebook & WeChat do not own the Internet network. Importantly, they do not exert control via proxy agents as Cisco & others does in the standards bodies.
In the case of AOL, their core business was selling modem access to a network and the content was a method to growth usage. CompuServe was mostly a modem provider but understood the value of content more than AOL to retain customers.
Todays walled gardens are providing content to grow their businesses and regard the network as a commodity item that has no value to them.
Reducing Friction Cuts Both Ways
The dramatic growth of walled gardens today is a result of reduced friction of getting access to the network. With billions of people connected to a network, building a overlay service has limited friction.
It also means that leaving the service overlay is easy too. For example. Google Plus is a failure but LinkedIn continues to thrive in spite of being a cesspit of marketing waffle.
Change is Easy in Overlays
Reducing friction allows new services to surface quickly. It also means that they can die quickly without affecting the physical substrate that enables them to exist.
But what’s so wrong with the walled garden, after all? Isn’t a good thing that technology is getting to the point that we can focus on the consuming, rather than the creating or building ?
Yes, we can focus on consuming. But we can also discard services quickly, easily and move on the next one if the network offer a basic universal service of connectivity
The EtherealMind View
And this same logic applies to networking. For example, WAN overlay networks or SD-WAN. When architecting an SD-WAN strategy you should plan to have multiple overlays in the long term. Today you can buy SD-WAN products that dramatically improve your WAN functions but in a year or two, IOT will have its own overlay network as well for environmental systems, security, employee monitoring and more.
I think the ability to replace overlay networks with limited impact is one of its greatest features. Not many people are thinking about this right now, but you should always be planning how