[e2e] experimenting on customers

Dave Crocker dhc2 at dcrocker.net
Thu Apr 24 10:16:34 PDT 2008

Jon Crowcroft wrote:
> ergo:
> all experiments by net customers are experiments on net customers...
> of course, the one thing we can't do with the one true internet (since it is now
> holy critical infrastructure) is proper destrctive testing 

And this points to the activity that seems not to have been listed:

    experimenting *on* infrastructure.

Which is exactly the case that is blocked for users and mostly for providers.

As it should be.

A provider might be "allowed" to experiment on their own infrastructure, but 
any competent operator will take a particularly conservative approach, given 
the downside of a failure.

But the idea that a provider should let a customer conduct an experiment that 
would affect the infrastructure doesn't sound reasonable.

Whether a particular product allows users to experiment depends on the 
product.  One intended for the consumer market typically won't.  To the extent 
that that makes the product developer a gatekeeper for the acceptance -- not 
the experimentation -- of a new application, well, welcome to the real world.

So we need to distinguish among who the experimenter is, what they are 
experimenting on, what they are experimenting with, and what kinds of 
collateral damage are possible.

Does a provider allow a customer to experiment with a new application? 
Typically yes, though indeed, some providers are Draconian.

Does an o/s platform company allow a customer experiment with a new 
application?  It depends on the platform.  Typically one that is tailored for 
the mass market is constrained in order to keep things simple.  (Whether it 
succeeds in that goal is a different discussion.)

And to go back to Jon's observation that none of these 'experiments' is fully 
controlled and measured... sure.  But there are activities that are conducted 
with an expectation of problems and with a focus on finding them. 
Interoperability events are examples.  If the impact of failure is high 
enough, then these events are always conducted in isolated networks.

Providers do not get in the way of interoperability events for applications 
over the public Internet.  They *do* get in the way of experimentation with 
infrastructure services, such as replacing IPv4.  And they should.

All of which seems to lead back to a question about the complaints being 
aired.  Exactly what activities are being prevented?  How is their being 
prevented the result of inappropriate actions?


   Dave Crocker
   Brandenburg InternetWorking

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