Are you ready for the internet of toll roads?

With the appointment of Ajit Pai as the new FCC chairman and his public opposition to current regulations, the death of net neutrality is likely upon us. As a result, an internet toll road – and higher costs for more data – is probably in your future.

For consumers, this will likely force the same burden of analysis we have today with mobile phone data plans, where we need to understand what our typical household data utilization is and then pick the plan that is best for us.

The Business Challenge

The impact on businesses is more complex. For example, the key to success for a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution like Salesforce and an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution like NetSuite is ever-increasing subscription volume. And as volume increases, so does the amount of data transferred in the data center. How will these companies adapt to utilization-based internet charging? Will they increase their fees, institute their own utilization-based charge models?

Then you have a number of IoT cloud providers, such as Amazon and Microsoft, vying to mine business device and machine data for business value. Given that one of the major value propositions of these types of cloud services is high-volume data ingestion, the amount of network utilization at the data centers hosting these IoT services could become staggering.

Certainly, cloud providers of all types will try to negotiate pricing with internet providers. The question will be whether they can generate enough leverage to make these negotiations successful. This may become the defining power struggle of the next few decades, with companies partnering or merging solely to gain more bargaining power. They may even try acquiring telecommunications companies as a means to overcome what has the potential to become a debilitating expense.

Cloud consumers also face uncertainty. As businesses increasingly adopt cloud services, such as Salesforce and NetSuite, inbound and outbound network traffic will increase on their company networks. While the benefits of cloud services will certainly outweigh the potential toll charge for most companies, network costs could compel some businesses to go to extreme measures to reduce network traffic by, for example, trying to control employee utilization of a company’s network for social media, shopping and personal email. To maintain their “free” Wi-Fi, local coffee shops may have to increase the price of their drinks. In fact, it’s impossible to predict how some budget-strapped organizations might respond to ever-increasing network costs.

The Changing Landscape

To help businesses deal more effectively with the cost of internet toll roads, vendors will need to introduce new software technology and features, such as increased monitoring and governance intelligence. For example, increased data throughput monitoring and reporting, and possibly throttling, will become critically important so businesses can govern and balance their network utilizations.

This will represent a new programming paradigm that developers will have to take into consideration when building integration solutions.

While the end of net neutrality will have broad and far reaching impacts, both cloud providers and cloud consumers can certainly take steps to minimize them.

Another critical step is a mind-set culture shift by developers. Whereas a “good” developer today designs and implements an application to be high performing, a new programming paradigm must focus on designing for throughput optimization to reduce network utilization.