The growth of the World Wide Web has been explosive. Leading measures
estimate there are approximately 30 millions users on the Internet
today, with nearly 8-10 million of those users accessing the World Wide
Web. Web servers, which deliver the content to individuals (or clients)
have exploded from an estimated 130 Web servers as of June 1993 to over
15,700 web servers as of April, 1995 (Matthew Gray's WebCrawler Report).
The World Wide Web explosion is occurring because a critical mass of enabling technologies and market conditions has met a pent-up demand for a new way of linking people and information. The key enablers of Web growth are:
These market enablers touched off an explosion of demand for web
services, providing people with a new and better way of linking up with
information. Previously, the ``information age'' had inundated people
with data that was out of date, incomplete, or irrelevant. What
organizations need instead and what the web provides is a way for
people to easily access the information they need, when they need it.
External web sites offer individuals and corporations access to large
amounts of invaluable information. Many corporations have been quick to
realize, though, that these same benefits of easy and rich information
access can apply to the internal distribution of their corporate or
departmental information. Consequently, there has been a concurrent,
but less publicized, explosion of internal web sites and servers -
behind the corporate firewall.
Because internal web sites are just emerging, the current size and growth rate of this market is difficult to determine. However, Mark Winther, Internet analyst at IDC, estimates that ``in the short term - over the next five years - the enterprise-side market for Internet server technologies may grow slightly more slowly than the external, commercial market for those technologies. However, it will more than make up for this slow start: demand for enterprise applications of web technology will probably end up being five times greater than for external applications.''