The application layer is responsible for directly accessing the underlying processes that manage and deliver communication through the network. This layer serves as the source and destination of communications across data networks, regardless of the type of data network being used. In fact, advances in how we network are having a direct effect on the type of applications that are being developed.

Trends like bring your own device (BYOD), access anywhere, virtualization, and machine-to-machine (m2m) connections have made way to a new breed of applications. It is estimated that approximately 50 billion devices will be connected by 2020. In 2010 alone, more than 350,000 applications were developed with more than three million downloads.  All of this leads to a world of intuitive connections between people, processes, data and things on the network.

Using smart-tagging and advanced connectivity to digitize unintelligent products - from bikes and bottles, to refrigerators and cars - and connect them to the Internet, will allow people and companies to interact in new and almost unimaginable ways. Objects will be able to collect, receive and send information to users and other connected objects. As shown in the figure, this new wave in Internet development is known as the Internet of Things!

Over 100 million vending machines, vehicles, smoke alarms, and other devices are already sharing information automatically today, a figure which market analysts at Berg Insight expect to rise to 360 million by 2016. Today, photocopiers with an M2M module can order fresh toner and paper automatically, or alert technicians to a fault - even telling them which parts to bring.