Monday, March 01, 2004


Now I'm worried . . .

When the world says, "Stupid networks? Yawn. How could it be any other way?" what will I do? Now, seven years after The Rise of the Stupid Network, David Passmore and the rest of the stodgy (make that "respectable") crowd over at Business Communications Review (BCR) are beginning to say the same kinds of things that wild-eyed Isenberg was saying in 1997. Here comes the end of my career as network revolutionary :-(

David Passmore used to have a charming shtick where he'd debate himself. The topic was something like, "Managed Networks vs. Big Bandwidth." He would battle himself to a draw, citing more efficient use of facilities on the one hand and lower management overhead on the other. But he'd forget innovation, which is, after all, the key success of The Stupid Network. The first time I heard Passmore's shtick, over lunch at one of the early Telecosms, I upbraided him for this from the floor in the Q & A. Maybe it worked. Now he's got it (see his Feb 2004 BCR column, "Are Smart Networks Dumb?")

All good rhetoricians need a stalking horse. Passmore uses Cisco. He writes:
[T]he concept of Cisco’s IIN goes totally counter to “the Internet way” of building networks. For years, the Internet and IP networks in general have been based on the “end-to-end principle:” Keep networks as simple as possible, with most intelligence and functionality at the edges. This principle says that the job of an IP network should be just to route packets to the correct destination.
And then, Passmore shows that he *really does* get it:
The rationale for placing smarts only at the edge is simple: It fosters new services and application deployment. By attaching an additional server to the network edge, anyone can make a new network application or service available, usually without extensive network operator coordination. The infrastructure can easily accommodate unforeseen new applications.
Of course, Passmore (with a little help from my former AT&T colleague Andrew Odlyzko) thought up all these stupid network ideas himself. I was lucky to be mentioned in this month's BCR editor's memo. (I still can't believe that when my work appeared in BCR in June 2002, they actually forgot to list it in the Table of Contents!) When the wisdom of stupid networks becomes "common sense," I'll be lucky to have a footnote in history.

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?