McNealy: We've been saying for years that the Net is about much more than opening online storefronts. It represents a more cost-effective way to run nearly every aspect of the enterprise - inventory, billing, distribution, customer service, employee communications. That goes for the whole supply chain as well. Most companies get that now. They're interested in using the Net to save money and work more efficiently.
AW: What's your prediction for how bandwidth [the ability to download data at high speeds] will increase in the U.S. and the rest of the world, since this is critical to delivering so many next-generation high-tech services? Are we facing a crisis?
McNealy: Over the past three years, bandwidth has doubled about every nine months. Compare that to processor speed, which doubles about every 24 months, and it's pretty clear that bandwidth is not going to be a problem. A single fiber-optic strand can carry the equivalent of 400,000 DVD-quality movies streaming down the line simultaneously, and there may be 800 or more strands in a cable.
So when are we going to see all that capacity put to use? Already about 85 percent of all commercial buildings in the United States are within a mile of dark fiber - fiber that has been installed but is not being used, is not lit up. It's that last mile that has been the sticking point so far, but there are ways around the problem. Fixed wireless, for instance, can deliver about 100 megabits per second to any home or office within range of a relay station, significantly reducing last-mile costs.
AW: Will the Internet service provider infrastructure be able to handle the expected increase in the demand load? And how can executives handle the information overload that implies?
McNealy: It's our job as an infrastructure supplier to build the products that will keep these companies ahead of the curve. Certainly, the challenges - and opportunities - are going to be enormous. We're seeing exponential increases in bandwidth, data, devices, and users - and that's the world we're addressing with our new products and our ongoing R&D.
The big opportunity is to harness the information explosion, to transform information overload into smart Web services that do a lot of the work for you. That's what the Sun Open Net Environment, Sun ONE, is all about. Imagine a calendar service interacting with a map service, so that your car gives you directions to your next appointment without having to be asked - it could even interact with a traffic service to help you avoid delays from road construction or a stalled vehicle. That's just one example. Millions more smart services are possible - and they're being developed today.