SMART Letter #25
August 9, 1999



            SMART Letter #25 - August 9,1999

            Copyright 1999 by David S. Isenberg

      At we accumulate intellectual capital

           the old fashioned way -- we LEARN it. -- -- 1-888-isen-com




>  BigCo Blues by N.W.B. Request

>  Quote of Note: Bob Allen on Internet (1995)

>  Network Knowledge from the Edge by David S. Isenberg

>  Quote of Note: Jeff Pulver on SIP and AIN

>  Smart comments from SMART People, to wit:

      A U.S. Federal Employee, Ed K., Zigurd Mednieks,

      Pat Kennedy, Craig Harrison, Gary Heaven

>  ATM vs. IP -- References (and Comments) from:

      David Newman, Andrew Odlyzko, Paul Atkinson,

      Kartik Vashisht, Phil Schelinski, Gary Hughes-Fenchel

>  The Winners!!!: Invent a Protonym Contest

      Thomas Boysden, Douglas R. Johnston, Tom Rabe,

      Howard Greenstein, Ozzie Diaz, Kim Allen

>  Conferences on my Calendar, Copyright Notice, Administrivia


BIGCO BLUES - A been-there, done-that report.

by Name Withheld by Request

A SMART Person contributes this up-close personal account

of a company that is not, repeat, is not AT&T -- honest!!  (This supports my

hypothesis that fundamentally, all telco culture is the same.)  Certain

details have been blurred . . .

   "I'm right in the middle of a quintessential 'Nethead

    vs. Bellhead' contest . . . My company provides

    [a high speed internet service so 'stupid' and

    advanced that it is disruptive.]  This service has

    become successful enough that [Big Incumbent Telco or

    BigCo] is buying the company . . .

   "The fascinating thing is to watch and listen, while a

    very mature, sustaining company tries to assimilate

    our very entrepreneurial, disruptive company.  The

    odds are against them.  One striking thing is that

    intellectually, [each individual from BigCo can]

    describe the challenges very accurately.  Senior staf-

    fers from [BigCo] know what high speed data, IP

    telephony services, and the Telecosm will do to their

    homely little [multi] billion dollar . . . business,

    and they can cite chapter and verse about the

    'big company' mistakes they shouldn't make.  And

    yet - the behavior of the corporation as a group

    appears always to default to the sustaining mentality.

   "This occurs almost as 'irony in action'.  A group of a

    dozen or so managers will come together to form an all

    day meeting scheduled weeks in advance on what should

    be done about this or that strategic or tactical issue

    in our business (the kind of decision we in our

    company would ordinarily make after about an hour,

    with three or four people in the room).  With [BigCo],

    most of the people in the room are excess baggage,

    and completely uninformed about the issues,

    so a lot of the meeting is to summarize facts.  Bit by

    bit, the large company inhibitions against doing

    ANYTHING (primarily fear of being wrong, and

    jeopardizing careers, as well as company dogma about

    technologies, and not cannibalizing the core) just

    freeze the whole meeting into inaction.  And yet, when

    the managers are each spoken to separately after the

    meeting, they individually say things like 'Dammit, we

    really need to get moving.  We need to just decide on

    the best information now and get going, even if we

    make some mistakes. Why can't everyone else see that?'

   "The will power of the organism as a whole is

    dissociated from that of its constituents. . . .

    [BigCo] could offer that service in no time flat . . .

    When I have discussed this with [BigCo] execs,

    they immediately cite all the things this [service],

    doesn't do, and use this as an excuse to wait until it's

    perfect. They [want] full Quality of Service management,

    battery power back-up, 911 access, call waiting, call

    forwarding, voice mail, etc. . . . Sound familiar?"


QUOTE OF NOTE: Bob Allen on the Internet

   ". . . we have all spent a lot of money in trials and

    experiments trying to force the technology into the

    minds of the consumers.  Until we find applications

    that are easy to use, affordable, make people's lives

    easier and prove their bottom line, online services are

    merely going to be toys.  But . . . we are beginning to

    get it right, and . . . [they] will be a big part of

    people's lives one day."  Robert E. Allen, Sept 12, 1995,

    Networked Economy Conference, Washington, DC.

Allen was AT&T's Chairman and CEO at the time. I was an AT&T employee in the

audience.  I couldn't believe my ears, or my memory, until Sara Watson (then

a conference staffer, now with Emap Media) found the above in the conference

transcript a couple of weeks ago.  Thanks, Sara!



Understanding a network you don't own, don't control

and don't know much about.

By David S. Isenberg

Box: [[(And in the end,) "The amount of inference that

you can make is dependent on the richness and precision

of the measurements you take." Christian Huitema]]

Monitoring the performance of the old, circuit-switched network was easy.

The telco owned the network elements and the routing tables.  It knew the

route of every call.  If there were network impairments, offending elements

could be detected directly, taken out of service and fixed.

With the Internet, service providers don't necessarily own the network. They

don't know its shape or size.  They don't control routing.  They can't reach

into the middle to upgrade slow network elements - especially when they

don't own them.

But if services get flaky, customers complain. Better network monitoring

gives service providers an advantage. The network may be stupid; nonetheless

knowledge of it is power.

How do you monitor a network that you don't own, don't control, and don't

even know much about? Christian Huitema, the Chief Scientist of the

Telcordia -- formerly Bellcore -- Internet Architecture Research Laboratory,

is leading the three-year, six-investigator, DARPA-funded Felix project into

its final year of work on the problem.


Felix monitor stations are attached to various points at the edge of the

network. These stations, connected by Internet Protocol (IP), each with a

unique IP address, perform their task via a higher-level protocol written by

the Felix team.

When deployed, each monitor station generates trains of short packets to

each of the others.  Every packet's precise transit time is measured.  For

each pair of stations, transit times are accumulated.  These are used to

discover the topology of the network.

It works like this.  Suppose that four monitoring stations, A, B, C and D,

are placed at various locations around the edge of the network. Suppose that

packets one through five travel from A to B in 10 milliseconds, but that

packet six takes 80 milliseconds.  Now suppose that six other packets,

launched at the same time, travel from Station A to Station C with a similar

pattern of transit times.  Now suppose that a third set of packets travels

from Station A to Station D but shows a very different pattern.

From these data the Felix team infers that packets traveling from A to B

pass through the same sources of delay as those traveling from A to C. Thus,

the route for AB and AC must share common elements.  By this logic, they

conclude that the route from A to D, because it has a different pattern of

transit times, shares fewer elements in common with AB or AC.

(At this point I object, voicing my understanding that Internet routing is

dynamic, that it can change packet by packet.  Huitema agrees, but says that

observational work by other investigators shows that in practice routing is

usually stable for many minutes, or even hours.)

To discover the shape of the network, the Felix team analyzes the

correlations among the time series of many pairs of monitoring stations.

Huitema compares this approach to a CAT scan.  In a CAT scan of the human

body, a series of X-ray "slices" are taken at regular intervals and stored

digitally. Algorithms permit interpolation from slice to slice, so a new

slice through the body -one that has never actually been photographed, can

be constructed.

Huitema says, "The amount of inference that you can make is dependent on the

richness and precision of the measurements you take." Rich measurements

demand robust, scalable analytic techniques. With many stations and many

routes for each station pair, the task rapidly grows complex.  Furthermore,

transit times are not normally distributed -- Huitema calls them "heavy

tailed" -- so new mathematical tools must be developed.  "It is a hard

problem," he says.


The official name of the Felix project, "Independent Monitoring for Network

Survivability," illuminates a big reason for Department of Defense funding -

in the event of attack or other widespread outage (Y2K?), Felix would be

poised to reveal the topology and performance of the remaining network.

The project has other applications, too.  For example, it could help

identify optimal routes. It could assist network-engineering efforts by

identifying sources of congestion.  It could help the provider of a

distributed service decide which server should serve certain information to

a given client. And it could be used to specify and enforce service level


As the Internet has profoundly altered the business models of network

service, so it will irrevocably transform the practice of network

management. The Felix project lays a foundation that doesn't introduce

complication or proprietary technology to current Internet platforms - it

follows the principles that continue to make the Internet great.

Find more on Felix at

The article above appeared in the August 1 issue of

America's Network.  Copyright 1999 Advanstar Communications.


QUOTE OF NOTE: Jeff Pulver on SIP & AIN

   " . . . SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) is gaining

    more momentum . . . PBX's, Ethernet phones and virtual

    switches are for the first time using the same

    communication protocol.  The real impact of this

    convergence could be the availability of the feature

    set envisioned with AIN twenty-plus years ago."  Jeff

    Pulver in "The Pulver Report", August 9, 1999.



A U.S. Federal Employee writes:

   "For a variety of reasons the Bellhead drive for

    centralized control is a relatively recent phenomena.

    It started with AT&T's desire to stop losing toll revenue

    due to the prevalence of black boxes and blue boxes which

    replicated in-band signaling.  Out-of-band signaling

    foiled the boxes.  Once it was conceived the dreamers

    figured out many kinds of wonderful services that could

    be offered using the Advanced Intelligent Network (AIN).

    I distinctly recall all sorts of wonderful new services

    that were going to be offered on AIN 1.0, AIN 2.0, AIN

    3.0, etc.  That was probably in the 1981 - 1982 time

    frame.  Today we are operating with AIN version 0.1 after

    almost 20 years of development!!  That is an order of

    magnitude worse than Microsofts many delays in delivering

    new operating systems.  I have no idea when the Bellheads

    will reach AIN version 1.0."

Ed K. writes:

   "Comment 1:  Careful research (by Clayton Christensen

    & others) shows that "disruptive" technologies, once they

    prove in, have huge returns that more than make up for

    the loses of investing in those that don't make it . . .

    [B]ut I don't think that [it] is much consolation to the

    Apple Newton people that Palm is so successful today . . .

    [T]he first guy jumping off the landing craft on D-Day was

    literally on the bleeding edge.  That the beachheads were

    secured by the end of the day was a small consolation to

    that soldier, although no one can deny that the overall

    benefits were worth that initial investment.

   "Comment 2: No, we should not expect an arms merchant

    to have morality. To be an arms merchant to begin with

    implies not having morality."

Zigurd Mednieks ( writes:

   "One thing is overlooked in the impact of laptops --

    they have an effective plug and play expansion

    architecture with PCMCIA. No cables, no errors in

    attaching cables. The simple difference in packaging

    greatly reduces support costs for laptops."

Pat Kennedy ( writes:

   "I thought The Innovators Dilemma was a very good book

    . . . one of the key points in each example (disk drives,

    hydraulic excavators) is that the disruptive technology

    appealed to a different customer . . . with the excavator,

    the [established] customer needed a large bucket, but the

    ditch diggers needed hydraulic buckets . . . One of the

    reasons that the old guard cannot see the new [is that]

    not only the innovation [is] different, the entire value

    chain is different."

Craig Harrison (caharr7@PacBell.COM) writes:

   "If we can put IP directly over glass to the home . . .

    doesn't that change the cost model for the 'last mile'?

    I would be afraid that a govt. bureaucracy would slow

    the process down...but the right spot at the right time

    would set a hell of an example for others.  Localized

    startups could provide regional solutions and

    opportunities that take advantage of the 'smarts' on

    the edge. Maybe, instead of the last mile, we should

    push for the 'glass mile'.

Gary Heaven ( writes:

   "I agree with your analysis of a per connection cost

    [in SMART Letter #16??? -- David I] especially if we

    accept the principle of a demarcation point where the

    service provider "gives up responsibility" In homes in

    NZ this is on the external wall of the house or at the

    last cable terminal. Remember that the US (and New

    Zealand) have very high penetrations of copper (either

    pairs or coax) per household compared to [e.g., China with

    *real*] economies of scale. Solve their problem

    (especially with local labour) and we will see a

    disruptive technology."



David Newman ( writes:

   "You might want to point out that [the argument is]

    rather long in the tooth--from 1996. The ATM vs IP

    thing was over a while ago, and IP won. ATM also seems

    to have lost the more recent IP-over-ATM-over Sonet vs

    IP-over-POS debate. I don't know of anyone developing

    ATM interfaces at rates above OC-48."

For more on the ATM vs. IP debate, Newman recommends:

1.  Steve G. Steinberg's original Wired piece on Netheads and

    Bellheads (October 1996) now found at:

2.  A piece by Fred Baker from the Cell Relay archives that

    can be found at http://cell-

[In fact, the whole thread entitled "Suggest new protocol

providing QoS" is fascinating -- find it at --

remember to put the whole URL

on one line in the "location" window before sending

your browser out to find these! -- David I]

Andrew Odlyzko ( recommends:

    Vadim Antonov's "ATM: Another Technological Mirage; or Why

    ATM Is Not The Solution," available at

Andrew also mentions that his

   "own high-level opinions on the shortcomings of ATM

    (at least for the edges of the network) are described

    in the Nov. '98 profile in the Australian PC magazine,


Paul Atkinson ( recommends:

   "a great article on ATM v. IP:"

Kartik Vashisht ( writes:

   "There is one more head, Frame-relay head, that is

    also obstinate, also is worshipped by devoted blind

    storm troopers."

Kartik continues,

   "Reading your paper, a sense of urgency develops and

    [I am motivated to make an] earnest effort to avoid

    old mistakes."

[Gosh, thanks! *blush* -- David I]

Phil Schelinski ( writes:

   "Before you write that story about the elimination of ATM,

    do some market research. See Williams Co. for innovative

    networks. Contact Ray Ashton CEO of QICC.COM for his

    opinion. Lab and Pilot tests still prove [that] for

    Carrier Class Services real QOS still rules.  For time

    sensitive service its ATM until further notice."

[Will people notice further notice? -- David I]

Gary Hughes-Fenchel ( reminds us that the below is his

opinion, not Lucent's:

   "No need for ATM? The Bell-heads I talk to seem to

    think that IP (in its current instantiation) won't

    support QoS (Quality of Service). There may be a market

    advantage to being able to offer QoS. If you need an

    ambulance sent to your house during busy hour on Mother's

    Day, the argument goes, you want the message to get

    through to 911, and damn the cost. [QoS in IP] requires

    additions to the protocol - or at least that everyone pay

    attention to all extant fields, which is not currently

    the case . . . IP in it's current form is not adequate

    for voice -- absent massive over-engineering."

[Here, Gary probably means 'massive over-provisioning.'

To me, QoS *is* over-engineering. -- David I]


WINNERS: Invent A Protonym Contest

Thomas Boysden ( submits:

    PROTEST -- the opposite of a contest.

Douglas R. Johnston ( submits:

    PROVIRUS -- "anti-antivirus" (that is, software that

    scans your computer for anti-virus software and either

    removes it or forces it to become a carrier.)

    Johnston comments, "I have often wondered if the

    anti-virus companies may be secret proponents of

    viruses to bolster the need for their products."

Tom Rabe ( submits:

    PROGRESS: the opposite of Congress

Howard Greenstein ( and

Ozzie Diaz ( are TIED for:

    PROTRACTOR: The opposite of a contractor -- a PROtractor

    is actually your advocate in getting an issue solved.

[The winner of this deadlock will be the person who can get *my* contractor

to finish the kitchen -- David I]

Howard Greenstein also offers:

    PAA - (Personal Analog Assistant): Person responsible

    for handling the scheduling, contacts, research, typing

    and faxing needs of an executive. Often portable or

    mobile, but rarely handheld due to legal protections.

Kim Allen ( submits:

    The poor subsist, the rich SUPERSIST.


    If you're caught pretending, you POSTTEND.


    Revived inner cities are SUPERURBS.


    Hindsight is 20/20 -- POSTSCIENCE (cf. prescience).


    Your PROSCIENCE prompts good deeds (cf. conscience).


    Polyps are no fun, but a MONOP is more treatable.



September 27-29, 1999, Lake Tahoe CA. George Gilder's

TELECOSM!  Sorry, SOLD OUT!  I'm chairing a panel on

The Stupid Network.  For more information,


November 4, 1999, New York City.  Merrill Lynch Technology

Advisory Board Panel, quite possibly featuring Gordon Bell

(father of the VAX), Phil Neches (founder of database machine

company Teradata), Don Norman (who wrote "Turn Signals are

the Facial Expressions of Automobiles," and other worthwhile

reads), open source spokesman Eric Raymond (I hope! still unconfirmed) (who

wrote the must-read essay "The Cathedral

and the Bazaar"), and several others, no less

distinguished, whose work I don't know as well. I'll

participate too.  Save the date.  Stay tuned for details.



Redistribution of this document, or any part of it, is

permitted for non-commercial purposes, provided that

the two lines below are reproduced with it:

Copyright 1999 by David S. Isenberg -- -- 1-888-isen-com


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1-888-isen-com            1-908-654-0772


Date last modified: 11 August 99