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Optical/IP

Dr Roberts: The Internet's in Trouble

It seems every few years, someone predicts doom for the Internet. It's Larry Roberts's turn.

According to Roberts -- well known as a team member behind Arpanet, the project that eventually grew into today's Internet -- it's not technology that has the Internet in trouble, but economics. Specifically, router prices are going to have a crippling effect, he believes.

Roberts's prediction appears today on Light Reading's brainier cousin site, Internet Evolution.

His latest concern is that, while bandwidth requirements continue to climb, router prices aren't falling at a similar rate. "The cost of Internet capacity would therefore double every three years without some key new innovation," he writes. "The economy could not support this for very long."

Those who have followed Roberts's career won't be surprised to hear his answer: flow-based routing, the technology he pursued with startup Caspian Networks and with his current venture, Anagran Inc. (See Flow-Based Networking and Anagran Promises TLC for TCP.)

His complete essay may be found here.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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tsat 12/5/2012 | 3:00:12 PM
re: Dr Roberts: The Internet's in Trouble
Yes, the serious problem with the Internet is that it relies on products that my company does not sell.

-tsat
grunt 12/5/2012 | 3:00:11 PM
re: Dr Roberts: The Internet's in Trouble I just don't get this argument - it seems like pure marketing .

Why would a flow router be 1/3 the cost of a regular router? just because it only has to lookup 1/3rd the IP addresses in a route table? DoesnGÇÖt a flow router still have to look up the flow for each packet? Even if it only has to look up 1/3rd compared to a regular router why would this portion of the functionality of a router drop the cost of the entire product to a 1/3rd?

Also the benefit of throttling at the edge - I think most or all edge routers can do this.

Also the ability of routers to have low latency flows in the face of all other traffic has been proven I think even by light reading testing for both core and edge products. In fact I think this general problem probably already has many commercially available options (MPLS, setting QoS in IP, and now PBT...)

So at best I can see his proposed flow router being cheaper (although Im not sure why t would be lower cost but can easily be lower price), and by his own admission cheaper is only a step function, not a long term solution to differing rates of growth.

It seems that many times we read about these problems which need to be solved, but in fact often there is existing technology commercially available often by leading vendors available to solve them, but they are not yet deployed. The real issues / constraints seem to often be operational. Maybe Avici is on to somethingGǪ.
Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:00:11 PM
re: Dr Roberts: The Internet's in Trouble I was wondering if someone would say that. :)

What I wonder about his argument is whether router prices might drop on a steeper curve in the future. Off-the-shelf chips are there to build routers from, and black-magic arts like BGP are becoming known to a wider and wider circle of programmers (*and* off-the-shelf software is available too).
bollocks187 12/5/2012 | 3:00:11 PM
re: Dr Roberts: The Internet's in Trouble What is interesting more so is that they are focused on a market that is dominated by a few... and lets face it charge way over the top. The Chinese vendors have products that work just as well and at half the price.

Dr. Roberts is changing the marketing game - kudos to him and his team.
dbostan 12/5/2012 | 3:00:11 PM
re: Dr Roberts: The Internet's in Trouble Nice sales pitch!
Buying from his company would solve the internet problem, isn't it?
grunt 12/5/2012 | 3:00:11 PM
re: Dr Roberts: The Internet's in Trouble I just don't get this argument - it seems like pure marketing .

Why would a flow router be 1/3 the cost of a regular router? just because it only has to lookup 1/3rd the IP addresses in a route table? DoesnGÇÖt a flow router still have to look up the flow for each packet? Even if it only has to look up 1/3rd compared to a regular router why would this portion of the functionality of a router drop the cost of the entire product to a 1/3rd?

Also the benefit of throttling at the edge - I think most or all edge routers can do this.

Also the ability of routers to have low latency flows in the face of all other traffic has been proven I think even by light reading testing for both core and edge products. In fact I think this general problem probably already has many commercially available options (MPLS, setting QoS in IP, and now PBT...)

So at best I can see his proposed flow router being cheaper (although Im not sure why t would be lower cost but can easily be lower price), and by his own admission cheaper is only a step function, not a long term solution to differing rates of growth.

It seems that many times we read about these problems which need to be solved, but in fact often there is existing technology commercially available often by leading vendors available to solve them, but they are not yet deployed. The real issues / constraints seem to often be operational. Maybe Avici is on to somethingGǪ.
jhawkins 12/5/2012 | 3:00:10 PM
re: Dr Roberts: The Internet's in Trouble We've been pointing out that routers are expensive for some time now. Glad to see a rationale for how this fact will impact the net going forward.

Of course, we think Ethernet switches are the answer to that particular conundrum (having been proven to be less costly for several decades now). Getting rid of routers... now that's a price curve I'd like to ride for a while. How can that be a bad thing?

And hey, if those switches are PBB-TE enabled, you don't to throw the baby out w/ the bathwater!

<flame shields="" up="">...

john
</flame>
macster 12/5/2012 | 3:00:08 PM
re: Dr Roberts: The Internet's in Trouble Grunt,

The 1/3 argument comes about using the case scenario of a 'regular router' running at 30% capacity (due to over-provisioning). A 'flow router' can run at 90% due to the 'flow-networking' approach employed (apparently).

I suggest you read up on flow networking and related issues such as TCP synchronisation, etc.

jepovic 12/5/2012 | 3:00:08 PM
re: Dr Roberts: The Internet's in Trouble Sure, that sounds like a more realistic solution: Replace some or many of the routers with switches. Won't make the routers any cheaper, but it will make the Internet cheaper.

As far as Dr Roberts, I don't understand how his model would lower the cost of routers. Sure, there is probably room for cutting router prices, but that's a whole different question. I have more hope in vendors like Alcatel and Huawei copying Cisco functionality on a much lower price level.
OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 3:00:07 PM
re: Dr Roberts: The Internet's in Trouble "centralized arch will be easy for operation and service, the service will becoming the P2P or P2MP oriented, the control point can be actas the proxy of the P2P service, the end user will be easily to share the information with a high speed."

I understood that the reason we went to IP & Ether was to avoid centralized control of P2P and P2MP service?

And then how is Ether cheaper than IP if you have to buy switches to replace the routers already purchased?

Just wondering - OP
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