A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy

Bandwidth Commoditization Technology Enablers

Sycamore Networks Focuses on Intelligent Optical Networks Using Software to Control Light Paths

Web Based Interfaces to Give Users Ability to Set up and Tear Down Circuits Permitting Bandwidth Management

pp. 1 - 6, 15

In the first of two more articles focusing in part on the commoditization of bandwidth we interview Jeff Kiel of Sycamore Networks. Kiel views a commodity market in bandwidth as a place where users will want to rapidly set up and tear down connections.

He points out that existing networks are not geared to respond to rapidly changing traffic patterns. In optical networks Kiel points out that the key differentiator is the software control of the light paths. Such software must permit one to switch and manage light paths. While Sycamore physical devices switch the circuits of light, Sycamore software pushes the intelligence of the network away from the idea of a central database and down as low as it can go, actually into the network nodes themselves.

Sycamore has implemented IP based routing inside its switches. Kiel believes that the real differentiation in optical networking is going to be not the size of the switch or the number of ports but how large can these networks actually scale. Could a network support hundreds of switches? Consequently the software within the network became the gating factor to everyone's ability to scale the data network. it must be decentralized because centralized management system can never scale fast enough so that it can deal appropriately with everything that's going on inside the network. But good software will also let the user choose the attributes of the circuit being establish including issues like protection and restoration time.

Done right a portion of network bandwidth can be set aside as a protection capacity. With Sycamore's software it can be shifted almost instantaneously from place to place within the network on an as needed basis. Instead of the brute forces of SONET protection where half the fiber is set aside for fall over network utilization can be driven close to 100% by having a mix of protected, unprotected and preemptible circuits controlled by the network management software.

Routers are to be telling the optical switches to set up and tear down connections according to rules set by service levels agreements and the need to partition the network into VPNs.

The Optical Domain Service Interconnect (OSDI) is an initiative begun by Sycamore in January 2000. The purpose is for routers to be able to tell the optical network to set up and tear down connections on demand. They want the IP layer to essentially call up optical layer bandwidth on demand. The role of OSDI is to get an initial set of specifications for doing this working.

To make commoditization a reality , what has to happen is that the underlying network needs to be re-architected and rebuilt to give that type of control to the carrier. And what the carrier will do is take that very nimble, very agile and very flexible network and use it as a tool to allow them then to move into the bandwidth commoditization and the bandwidth trading market. According to Kiel "There is work going on in several different areas that are focused on allowing networks to be more nimble. One of the first challenges is the existing underlying optical network or transport network. We are seeing that initial next-generation networks are first focusing on making that part of the network more flexible - the ability to provision, deprovision, and reprovision high-bandwidth paths on demand in milliseconds - essentially liquid light."

"This network architecture shift, in combination with more advanced traffic engineering capabilities with the IP network (e.g., MPLS), will allow commoditization of bandwidth to begin to occur." However the commoditization will be within the boundaries of a single network. Crossing provider boundaries is still a research issue.

CEO of AIG Telecomm Emphasizes Difficulty of Commoditizing Bandwidth

Reaction to Commoditization Issue Depends on Amount of Dark Fiber Owned and Affect on Control Over One's Customers According to Eric Raab

pp. 7 - 12

In the second of two commoditization of bandwidth articles, we interview Eric Raab Chief Executive Officer of AIG Telecom. The discussion emphasizes the importance of understanding exactly what is being commoditized and of shortening provisioning times. Raab points out that the interests of all the players are not the same.

For example MCI could buy in really big quantity from Williams. But this could mean that an MCI customer can buy its bandwidth from Williams and sidestep MCI. Raab very reasonably suggests that carriers which have the customers want to keep them and the green field players like Williams and Enron which don't have customers want to commoditize bandwidth so that their network looks identical to the other carriers networks. Under such circumstances it becomes strictly a price issue.

Raab points out that the meeting of March 23 and two more that have taken place since then are designed to find out if the established carriers have enough interests in common with the owners of dark fiber like Enron and Williams to cooperate with each other in defining an industry benchmark for bandwidth trading. AIG itself operates a market place where carriers buy and sell minutes of connect time.

Airwire.net Displays Innovative Business Model for Delivering Broadband Wireless Service in Partnership with Florida East Coast Railroad

pp. 13 - 15

We interview Paul Lewis president of Airwire.net a Florida based wireless ISP that is using2.4 giga hertz spread spectrum two provide broadband wireless by pass to connect Florida businesses between West Palm Beach, Melbourne and Orlando. In addition to interconnection with MCIWorldcom, Airwire partners with EPIK which is the subsidiary of the Florida East Coast railway that sells access to the railroad's fiber. Airwire is the first partnership we have seen between an alternative fiber provider such as a railroad or utility company and a wireless ISP dedicated to providing a local loop by pass for small businesses.

In-addr.arpa -- a Technical Elaboration

pp. 12, 20, 24

A brief discussion between Milton Mueller and Karl Auerbach explains the operation of this obscure but vital part of the DNS system.

ICANN Trying to Rig Elections to Maintain Tight Control, Finds Itself Sued by Afternic

pp. 16 - 18

ICANN in fiction and fact - we observe how the Economist has been co-opted into writing an article that portrays ICANN as a regularly accepted part of internet governance - just like the IETF. The disinformation in the article reminds both of 1984 and Animal Farm. We chronicle ICANN's careful efforts to render the member elections to which it agreed in Cairo meaningless. ICANN has designed a process judged by legal observers to be in violation of the California Public Benefit Corporation Statute under which it is founded. No matter. ICANN proposed a by-law amendment stating that its member are not members according to the CPB statute. In the meantime ICANN refuses to answer questions about its 501 (c3) status. The June 26th New York Times has announced a lawsuit against ICANN by Afternic a reseller of domains which says ICANN violated its own bylaws in refusing to approve its application to become an accredited primary registrar for internet addresses." While ICANN claims concern about Afternic's reselling of domain names in the secondary market, ICANN's two largest accredited registrars Network solutions and Register.com "have begun offering resale services similar to Afternic's."

Living and Working in Silcon Valley -- by Peter Deutsch A Few Reflections from a Recent Silicon Valley Transplant

pp. 19 - 20

Peter Deutsh reflects on a move from Canada to San Jose where he is now working for Cisco .

Juniper versus Cisco In Discussion on Inet-access list Juniper Rated Very Highly

pp. 21 - 22

An Inet-access list discussion finds that Juniper hardware for its largest backbone routers is generally superior to Cisco and that Juniper's software is catching up fast. accordingto Juniper "with the new M160 and Internet Processor II ASIC can filter, log and sample all traffic running through it at any speed. The test was done with 32 OC48's at full wire rate (both directions) with input and output filters on every interface each with over 2700 lines of filters such that every line in every filter was hit by some packet being sent through the router. In this worst case scenario over 95% of full wire rate was achieved."