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Re: iPhone and Network Disruptions ...

  • From: Prof. Robert Mathews (OSIA)
  • Date: Sun Jul 22 22:14:02 2007

Sean Donelan wrote:
Since neither Apple, Cisco nor Duke seems willing to say exactly what the problem was or what they fixed; not very surprising; it was probably a "Duh" problem unique to Duke's network.
Sean, Nanogers:

Thank you, for your responses. 

Given the world of NDAs and other legal instruments, it was attempting to understand if there were certain folks here in NANOG - that were aware of any particular technical shortcomings, which could have caused, or contributed to the problem.   Naturally, I say this based on a personal conjecture that
NANOG members may be LESS inclined to spend nearly $600 on a product they knew little about, in order to simply satisfy a "coolness factor."  :-)

Seriously, while I wish to not speculate, in the absence of technical details on the situation, at least on the surface, it is troubling to me that a mass marketed, personal, consumer device could have a potential such as this - to disrupt an otherwise (seemingly?) stable networked institutional environment.    In a document titled: " How to Plan for User Interest in the Apple iPhone," on 27 June 2007, Gartner had issued a negative recommendation to organizations WRT to accommodating iPhone use within enterprises based on their analysis of the product lacking hooks for Outlook/Notes, and necessary security applications.  Gartner also cited Apple's commitment to focus iPhone support for individual consumers rather than organizational users as a basis for issuing its negative recommendation.   Gartner also went on to issue another document on 10 July 2007, titled: "iPhone First-Generation Security Is Too Weak for Enterprises," which might be of interest (at least in an informational sense) to some here as well.

Otherwise it would be a shame for Apple, Cisco and Duke to not let other network operators that might have the same problem to know how to prevent it from recurring elsewhere.
Duke CIO - Tracy Futhey's statement that "...a particular set of conditions made the Duke wireless network experience some minor and temporary disruptions in service," where the "deployment of a very large Cisco-based wireless network that supports multiple network protocols" (*) seems to have been a key issue -- is frankly MORE confusing that illuminating.   Is Duke, the only U.S. university campus, which has deployed a "very large Cisco-based campus wireless network" that support "multiple network protocols" ?

Besides, is the 'multiple protocol' issue a 'red herring' ?  By what novel/errand protocol could the iPhones flood the Duke University Wi-Fi network?    NOT owning an iPhone, and lacking a technical familiarity with all of its inner workings, leaves me at a disadvantage, I am afraid.  I  do happen to own a nicely featured smart-phone among other Wi-Fi devices however, and remain well acquainted on just how 'that device' is likely to interfaces with Wi-Fi nets.  In this respect, is the Apple iPhone an extra-ordinary device?  I ask that question to seek clarity into the statement made by the Duke CIO, if anyone cares to comment.

Quite frankly, my interest is to understand the range of "failures in interoperability" --  either at the device level, or at the enterprise level.

Separately, I fail to see why no one is talking;  particularly due to the fact that this event is effecting a first of a kind product release by Apple, and also on account of the fact that there is wide publicity now of an existing flaw in a Cisco product.  I would have thought that transparently resolving this cryptogram would have built greater public confidence in those companies and respective products involved. 

All the best,

* "Update on Duke’s wireless network and Apple’s iPhones" [see:  Friday, July 20] 2007]

fn:Prof. Robert Mathews
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title:Distinguished Senior Research Scholar on National Security Affairs & U.S. Industrial Preparedness
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