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Greener grass on the other side of the fence

  • From: Sean Donelan
  • Date: Mon Jun 29 06:55:08 1998

>As an aside, it always amazes me that the Internet even works (particularly
>for an infrastructure that the unwashed masses seems to think will replace
>the existing telephone network), but I guess the same could be said of any
>chaotic (in the non-linear sense) system...

I'm not sure the telephone network is really that robust.  Think about
the SS7 network and a world with 50,000 CLEC's.  Like most things, you
don't want to really know what's in the sausage.  Some systems are designed
with a high degree of control, so everything works correctly.  But they
often have the property of catastrophic failure when any part fails to
work perfectly, such as the cascading failures of the western power grid
last year.

Central, hierarchial control is alluring.  But there are still trade-offs.
It used to take a week (or more) to add/change/update network routes in
the prdb (and its predecessors).  Perhaps acceptable when the central
control was working, but it also took that long to fix things when the
central database was screwed up.  If you were really lucky, you might
be able to convince someone to do an 'emergency' change in a day or two.

We (myself included) often express amazament how the network manages to
continue functioning.  However, the system might not be as out-of-control
as some people think.  It is definitely chaotic.  On the other hand, it
has shown itself remarkably resiliant to the many evil things people
and nature have done.

I'll note I'm writing this note while watching white scan lines roll over
my highly reliable TCI cable service, NOT!
Sean Donelan, Data Research Associates, Inc, St. Louis, MO
  Affiliation given for identification not representation

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