[e2e] Internet "architecture"

Dave Crocker dhc2 at dcrocker.net
Fri Apr 12 09:35:26 PDT 2013

On 4/12/2013 7:04 AM, Noel Chiappa wrote:
>> From: Dave Crocker <dhc2 at dcrocker.net>
>> The original use of the term Internet was to describe a distinctive
>> technical design
> Err, that would be '_i_nternet'; that term came first, by quite a
> few years.

For this exercise, that kind of esoterica is far, far out of scope.

I'm trying to discern core technical issues about the integrated design.
  In an informed, deep discussion among experts the capitalization of the
'i' makes a large difference; but it doesn't matter for the
coarse-grained exercise of this query.

> I'm not sure how far I'd go with the 'scalable'. The earliest
> version only supported 256 networks, and it's been a constant
> struggle ever since to keep

The difference between initial proposals vs. eventual deployment are
extremely important when discussing an evolutionary process,
collaborative style and the like.  But those weren't my question.

When deployed, IP had 32 bits, 4 times its as many as NCP. (One might
enjoy the consistency of having done that again, when moving to IPv6...)

As for the fact that 32 bits has limits, no kidding.  But to say that
something that had continuous operation over the course of 25+ years, in
going from a very small research network into a global service with
billions of user does not represent scalability.  Sorry, but that sounds
like a mathematician and not an engineer...  (hmmm.  was that insulting?)

> I think its main novelty, in terms of goals, was its ability to tie
> together many heterogeneous kinds of networks;

Right.  Embracing modest goals can produce remarkable flexibility.

>> What I'd class as distinctive were the TCP/IP separation
> True, although i) that wasn't in the earliest versions, and I
> _think_ (without checking) that CYCLADES had a similar kind of
> thing.
>> the remarkably modest functionality of IP, even to the point of
>> moving it's control plane to the next level up with ICMP
> Again, I think CYCLADES had that (ditto comment about having to
> check).
>> and continuing with modest expectations the layer below (which
>> made it possible to operate over any medium including birds.)


On 4/12/2013 7:51 AM, dpreed at reed.com wrote:
> There is a vast literature in the late 1960's and early 1970's of
> ideas that were brought into the Internet fold - ideas about LANs,
> catenets, "resource sharing", atomicity, error recovery, control
> systems, ...  and the current Internet design brought almost all of
> those together, by the simple virtue of bringing together a wide
> collection of folks.

Some, many or maybe all of the 'component' ideas within the Internet
architecture had been demonstrated elsewhere.  Documenting these details
is a useful exercise.

But it's quite distinct from documenting the distinctive synthesize of
components into a specific networking design.  The choices made in
synthesizing an integrated design represent a separate skill from the
design of the component technologies.  Look at how many system designs
get the balance of functionality, usability and complexity wrong.

To repeat: I think it an entirely worthy exercise to be clear about the
invention of components, but my question is about the integrated system
that I meant, by asking after the /architecture/ of the Internet's data
exchange fabric.

  Dave Crocker
  Brandenburg InternetWorking

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