[e2e] end of interest

John Day day at std.com
Fri May 9 18:18:20 PDT 2008


>John, and others,
>Hello, from a long-time lurker.
>>  >I don't think it said don't bother touching TCP and below so much as said
>>  >they don't matter.  That's certainly what Van said in a more recent talk.
>>  >And I think it is right -- if you think you have a game changing paradigm
>>  >that can work over existing stuff but might work better over new stuff,
>>  >focus on your core idea -- if it works, the rest of the network will
>>  >morph to support it.
>>  Some time ago, Microsoft had the same idea about dealing with having
>>  half an operating system.  Didn't work for them, not going to work
>>  here.  Overlays are building on sand, or trying to sweep the mess
>>  under the layer.  They can't fix what is fundamentally an incomplete
>>  architecture.
>Would it be blasphemous to suggest here that the TCP/IP Internet pretty
>much grew as an overlay on a network designed to do voice?

No, not blasphemous.  Just stretching a analogy beyond the breaking point.

>When we take an IP-centric thin-waist view, we can usually ignore the
>fact that indeed there may be another Layer 3, (or in fact an entire
>protocol stack that we will reduce to a Layer 2 interface) below.  The
>power of abstraction works great until the underlying problem changes
>Several decades ago, did packet switching fix an incomplete
>architecture, or did it just change the problem?  What if we could
>repeat that, especially if as Van suggests the key problem to solve has
>indeed changed?  What if we only got another incomplete architecture
>that offered a different value proposition from IP, just as IP offered a
>different one from the phone network, but still arguably incomplete?

I think you are so far inside the box, you can't see the top.

If we continue to use the methods of the last 30 years, it will 
definitely turn out incomplete.  We have know what the incompleteness 
were for 30 years.  We simply put off solving them long enough that 
the newbies don't know they are out there.  And having been raised 
with no one mentioning them, they think all is sweetness and light.

Did you ever come across someone who had only ever seen DOS and never 
UNIX or a MAC?  They thought DOS was wonderful and nothing could be 
better.  It is similar affect.

>As a practical matter, suppose we wanted to experiment with different
>abstractions that addressed storage concerns at the network layer and
>not insist that is an application layer concern.  Suppose we wanted to
>move from content-agnostic, topology-obsessed ;) abstractions to ones
>that focused on reachability to descriptively named/tagged content.

One more indication of not having solved age old problems leads you 
to even more complex ways of not solving them.

>Our choices of deployment strategy include:
>   (i)  build everything from scratch, and reinvent a lot
>   (ii) focus on the new abstractions, but roll it out as an overlay
>        over the Internet, and if successful, who knows the core
>        infrastructure may morph to match as Craig suggests
>I believe the latter strategy is more likely to succeed (unless a
>from-scratch solution that goes after a need that is under-served by the
>Internet succeeds and eventually moves up-market -- borrowing ideas from
>Christensen's book "The Innovator's Dilemma").  In any case, overlays
>are a cheaper way to weed out the evolutionary dead-ends.

Peculiar that the only two approaches seem to concentrate on building 
things, and not on a careful scientific investigation of the 
underlying structure to find out what is really going on.

>Networks seem to need a critical mass of adoption, and usually an
>evolutionarily smart vector to succeed.  The DTN Bundle Protocol (or its
>successor, with metadata extension block semantics that will hopefully
>remain flexible and user-definable) might just offer an opportunity for
>acquiring a new critical mass, but only if it finds the smart vector
>(that does what Mosaic did for HTTP/HTML, and perhaps BSD for TCP/IP).

Not at all.  There is no where in science that the investigation of 
scientific phenomena requires a critical mass of adoption.  I think 
you are making the same confusion we saw on this list a few weeks 
back that confused understanding phenomena with commercial 

>I think overlays or middleware by some name or the other are inevitable

middleware is and always has been snake oil.

>(and perhaps even symptomatic of the network having failed us in some
>way :).  Do we want a million fragmented stove-piped overlays that can
>never talk to each other, or should we attempt to change the (level of)
>abstraction for the services provided the network?

The network didn't fail us.  We failed the network.  We didn't do the 
serious hard work that needed to be done.  We let Moore provide us 
silicon instead of using our brains.  We educated a generation of 
engineers as technicians and called them PhDs.  Now we seem to be 
stuck with less than half an architecture and an entire field who 
thinks it is wonderful and has forgotten how to do fundamental work. 
And pats themselves on the back for doing such a great job, while 
everything around them moves toward the kindling temperature.

I suggest you keep the rose colored glasses on.  The sun is going to 
get bright.

Take care,

More information about the end2end-interest mailing list