[e2e] queriable networks

David P. Reed dpreed at reed.com
Sun Dec 4 11:57:47 PST 2005

If you believe that "the network" is something that is "provided" by a 
few big oligopolists, it's of course quite easy to imagine that "the 
network" can characterize itself.   And imagination is a powerful 
thing.   Imagine Victory in Iraq, and it just happens (as far as our CEO 
and his crew is concerned, since he never gets out of the bubble that 
travels with him).

The Internet is a collective, emergent noun describing a process to some 
of us.  Probably not to Cisco or Verizon or the ITU, though.  :-)

So it seems we are talking about two different things.  I can ask Cisco 
to make IPv6 happen, and it's a simple matter, of course.   Because they 
are in charge, right?  :-)

Seriously, perhaps it would be a good thing for professional engineers 
who are working on the Internet to recognize that "the network" used to 
describe a unitary actor is a slippery concept, not to be used in 
critically sound discourse.

Unless, of course, you work for Cisco.

Dave Crocker wrote:

>> One place where I depart from a common view of the end to end 
>> argument is
>>  that there are times when it makes sense to actively enquire of the 
>> network and expect the network to make a response that characterizes 
>> itself.
> Fred,
> (I've changed the subject line, since I think your comment is both
> interesting and independent of the core simple-vs-complex network
> infrastructure issue that I raised.  I don't see any reason a simple 
> network
> would be prevented from answering queries.)
> I have two reactions to your comment.
> One is: I don't see that having a network be queriable (queryable?
> querulous?) as automatically running against end-to-end design or, as 
> I said above, simple infrastructure. I'd argue that traceroute is a 
> long-standing example of such a query, along with pathmtu, and they do 
> not seem to offend anyone excessively.
> The second is:  what "network" would be getting characterized? Given 
> that we
> do inter-networking, how can an arbitrarily long series of
> independently-administered networks (between sender and receiver) -- with
> alternate paths and different intermediate networks available --
> characterize itself?  (One might almost thing that end-to-end QOS over 
> the
> open Internet would be difficult to provide...)
> So, it seems straightforward to get the "next" network or the next AS 
> to say
> something about itself, but I thought we were rather a long way from 
> getting
> multi-vendor, multi-administration, end-to-end homogeneity (or
> characterizability.)
> d/

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