[e2e] the evolution of deployability

David P. Reed dpreed at reed.com
Wed Dec 18 11:15:37 PST 2002

At 10:31 AM 12/18/2002 -0800, Fred L. Templin wrote:
>What would you say to those (like myself) who simply want to see the best
>possible technical solutions emerge and strive to make positive technical
>contributions whenever possible?

When I was a faculty member at MIT in the early 80's, seeing the decline of 
the mainframe and supermini companies, I suggested to many of my advisees 
that they visit Microsoft, Apple, and other PC systems software companies, 
just to give them a chance.  Or in the case of networks, some of the 
network startups like 3Com, Proteon, Cisco, and FTP software.

My faculty colleagues at the time were saying that Apple computers were 
"toys"  (that's what Mike Dertouzos said to me verbatim), and that 
Microsoft was run by a "young twerp" (another direct quote).

The same view was taken about those companies that went after the 
"Internet" (Cisco, Proteon, Wellfleet) and Ethernet.

Those students who took a chance and saw the opportunity to make a 
difference did well there.  People who stuck with the big safe-bet 
companies (working at DEC on its OS's, IBM on SNA, AT&T on ISDN) didn't 
suffer too much, but they didn't drive the future.

No one could have predicted the fates of Apple and Microsoft would turn out 

But I'd strongly encourage people today to ignore the IETF, and get focused 
on mobile, unlicensed wireless, highly reconfigurable and pervasive 
networking.   Pursue overlays and co-existence, and create the next bigger 
"Internet" - the universal glue for networking things together.

It ain't gonna come out of IETF, I suspect.   It could come out of 
Microsoft, but I see the same hardening of the arteries there.   When you 
get dominant, you get lazy, and like IBM could only see PCs as terminals 
for their core business of mainframes, Microsoft can only see networking as 
ways to connect peripherals to PCs and laptops that are hot enough to be 
fire hazards.   Cisco, with its salesman CEO, chews up and spits out anyone 
who might challenge its incremental process with a bigger, aggressive vision.

Can Nokia, for example, do it?   Only if they are willing to bet heavily 
against 3G, I think.  Nokia is actually one of my darkhorse big company 
candidates, along with Nortel Wireless, HP, and Intel.

Nope, I think this next  round is going to come from the startup and 
university research guys, those who are willing to look at new applications 
and new directions.   And we'll probably have to invent some new home for 
worldwide universal interoperability besides the IETF.

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