A couple of years from now, the Internet won't bear much resemblance to its current state, Inktomi chief Dave Peterschmidt said Wednesday at the US-based IPSCon event. "The whole look and feel of the Internet in the next 18 to 20 months will be totally different," Peterschmidt said, in his morning keynote address. "We are now going to find out how strong our (Internet) infrastructure really is." Peterschmidt delivered an optimistic, but cautionary speech, about how he believes the future Internet will be driven by broadband access, rich media content and revolutionary corporate uses of the Web. Those all will drive the information exchange beyond previous technological advancements. He vehemently claimed that a more stable networking environment and improved content delivery will drive Internet adoption rates beyond those seen with past consumer technologies like the telephone and TV. However, the progression for the Internet could mirror that of television in some respects, he said, noting that when TV broadcasts went from black and white to colour there wasn't much coluor content offered so few people went out and bought colour TVs. But when colour content took off, that changed. The Internet will be just as ubiquitous as our most common consumer technologies as well. The day is virtually around the corner when pulling information off the Web will be as simple and reliable as flipping a light switch or picking up the phone and hearing a dial tone, Peterschmidt said. The underlying Internet infrastructure will have to meet the kind of stability and simplicity to keep up with the flood of demand generated by evolving software applications and media formats such as streaming media and audio. Inktomi - a US-based Internet software maker - looks to benefit from Peterschmidt's predictions as he hopes to position his company as one of the main vendors handling and transferring the data generated by consumers and corporate customers alike. In keeping with this notion, Inktomi forged a deal with Edgix - which bills itself as an Edge Service Provider (ESP) - Wednesday to deliver managed infrastructure services to ISPs (Internet service providers). The two companies will work to develop new Web-based technologies using the Edgix-managed caching applications built on the Inktomi Traffic Server network cache platform. The partnership could help bring faster Internet access to users sitting on the fringe or edge of networks. Edgix claims that its technology can increase average download speeds by more than 300 per cent on broadband networks, giving users a better chance to cash in on Peterschmidt's vision of the Web's future. Peterschmidt said he hopes to use improved network performance to tear down some of the firewall barriers currently present between companies and to give them access to each other's content. He promoted what he calls "content peering" as one model that ISPs can leverage to generate profits lost by lowering network access costs. "All of AOL's (America Online's) 23 million users are one click away from getting all of AOL's content and content on other networks though AOL," he said. Peterschmidt said that companies could agree to share access to content and then set up a charging system for the use and exchange of shared information. "There could be a third-party clearinghouse where we will settle up the bills at the end of the month or quarter," he said. Overall, Peterschmidt looks for Internet usage to explode in the next 18 months with intensive applications and millions of users putting intense strains on networks. He said, however, that he thinks networks can handle the looming load of users as long as companies begin preparations now.