Platform on Platform (PoP) Model for Meta-Networking: A New Paradigm for Networks of the Future

Platform on Platform (PoP) Model for Meta-Networking: A New Paradigm for Networks of the Future

Debashis Saha (MIS Group, Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta, Joka, Kolkata, Calcutta, India) and Varadharajan Sridhar (Sasken Communication Technologies, Domlur, Bangalore, India)
DOI: 10.4018/jbdcn.2013010101
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In this research essay, the authors envision a Platform-on-Platform (PoP) model to understand the (r)evolutionary nature of future networks, with examples and constructs from the two most pervasive networks, namely the Internet and the mobile cellular networks. First, they articulate how PoP model is conceptualized on the economic principles of n-sided markets and discuss associated network effects for the platforms to attain critical mass for sustainability. Then, the authors attempted to analyze the enablers of the PoP including open systems and standards and their effect on the success of PoP. Next, they apply the principles of PoP to two use cases – Internet of Things and Enterprise Mobility, and indicate the relevant research issues that need to be addressed. The authors concluded with remarks on the importance of security as a platform, which in their opinion has not been given due importance thus far, and the related avenues of research for the reliability and sustainability of future networks.
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2. Platform On Platform (Pop) Model

Let us first try to understand that every network – be it wired or wireless – be it high speed or low speed – be it multicast or broadcast – be it voice or video or multimedia - is basically a “platform” (Evans & Schmalensee, 2010). We are now-a-days familiar with the term ‘platform’ due to rise in the popularity of cloud computing where Platform-as-as-Service (PaaS) is one of the offerings along with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) (McAfee, 2011). The concept of platform is also age old in economics and that concept has been used by researchers to explain the behavior of the Internet – arguably the best network ever designed on this universe. According to Wikipedia, “two-sided markets, also called two-sided networks, are economic platforms having two distinct user groups that provide each other with network benefits”. Common examples of platforms having two sided markets are eBay, Facebook, Skype, and Google. Extending this simple definition to n-sides, we can write ‘multi-sided markets or multi-sided networks are platforms having multiple distinct user groups that provide each other with network benefits’. Examples of n-sided platforms are galore today; an operating system, like Android, is a 3-sided platform – users, app developers, and handset manufacturers forming the 3 sides. Definitely, the main driver behind the development of any intermediary (aka platform) is economies of scale offered by the market that links two or more distinct but interdependent groups of customers. The earliest telephone exchange or a modern day router or a simple N×N switch is also a platform in its very basic mode – connecting just two sides. In this framework, the Internet is a worldwide available platform; every intranet is a company-wide platform; every LAN is a campus-wide platform; every WAN is a global-scale platform; so on and so forth. For instance, TV network is another good example of a mass-scale platform, though its ‘platform utility’ has not been explored to the fullest extent till today. So we are ready to accept a network as a platform.

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