North American Network Operators Group

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Re: Backbone Infrastructure and Secrecy

  • From: Michael.Dillon
  • Date: Wed Jul 09 05:16:22 2003

>Are we going to throw a burlap sack over 60 Hudson, the Westin Building, 
One Wilshire, 
>or similar buildings and disavow knowledge of their existence?  You can't 
hide major infrastructure.


However we can work to spread out the infrastructure more so that it is 
harder for terrorists to find a single point of failure to attack. If they 
have to coordinate an attack on 3 or 4 locations, there is an increased 
probability that something will go wrong (as on 9/11) and one or more of 
their targets will escape total destruction. 

We all need to find ways to make our networks more resilient even if that 
means moving away from "comfortable" vendors like Cisco and Juniper. The 
costs of resilience are not immovable objects. Those costs arise because 
the routers and circuits we would use to implement resilience are the same 
things we use to carry paying traffic and the vendors price their products 
based on the expectation that we use them for paying traffic. Since the 
vendors can't tell whether or not the router/circuit earns revenue for us, 
they won't give up their margin on the sale. In both cases, the underlying 
components of the product are virtual commodities (fiber, wavelengths, 
circuit boards, chips) and are continually dropping in price.

Perhaps it will require government regulations regarding diversity and 
resilience to change this but wouldn't it be nice if the industry could 
get together and solve this problem in a self-regulatory fashion?

--Michael Dillon