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Error 404--Not Found

From RFC 2068 Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1:

10.4.5 404 Not Found

The server has not found anything matching the Request-URI. No indication is given of whether the condition is temporary or permanent.

If the server does not wish to make this information available to the client, the status code 403 (Forbidden) can be used instead. The 410 (Gone) status code SHOULD be used if the server knows, through some internally configurable mechanism, that an old resource is permanently unavailable and has no forwarding address.


By Michael Cooney
Network World, 03/26/01

Mistakes are never small in the network world. They may be quickly forgotten or swept under the rug, but they are never small.

Here we take a look at a number of developments chronicled - OK, hyped - in Network World during the past 15 years that have flopped like so many dead fish. It's not pretty.


Few times in the history of flops has a movement come and, well, been kicked into submission so quickly. A study released in January said that 210 don't-com firms were shuttered in 2000 - 121 between October and December alone.

The study went on to say of the dot-com deaths, about 75% offered products or services primarily for a consumer audience. Another 21% had a business clientele, and the remainder had a blend.

E-commerce companies accounted for just more than half the closures. Content-based properties made up 30%, while infrastructure and online service companies made up the remainder.

The study's author,, reports that between 12,000 and 15,000 dot-comers lost their jobs. Of course, there are thousands of dot-coms left - some successful - but their failure rate in the past year and a half is unprecedented. For now, that alone earns them a spot on this list.

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Telecommunications Act of 1996

Many are still arguing over its impact, but we'd have to say this act has been a failure. Does anyone remember what this legislation was supposed to accomplish? Let us remind you. The act was supposed to:

  • Open local service to competition.
  • Let regional Bell operating companies provide long-distance service.
  • Deregulate certain cable rates.
  • Let local telephone companies sell video services.
  • Protect Universal Service.
  • Change broadcast ownership rules.

Of those six major points, only Universal Service has succeeded. Local competition is a joke. RBOC long-distance - with the exception of Verizon (in one state) and SBC Communications - is another laugh-riot. Since the act, competition in general has taken a huge hit with all the mergers and acquisitions (four of the original seven Baby Bells no longer exist). Even what many considered to be the big carrot of the act - the ability to sell long-distance - is no longer a draw because of lower rates (maybe the only good thing to come out of all this). One analyst sized it up this way: "The Telecom Act didn't open floodgates as envisioned."

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What would a "flops" section be without a bloated and failed IBM plan? Pretty much everything IBM's networking group did (in one iteration or another) in the late '80s and throughout the '90s is already dead, is being phased out, or is owned by Cisco. Perhaps no technology flamed as vividly as Advanced Peer-to-Peer Networking. Why, we remember like it was only yesterday talking about the quintessential strengths of APPN, its peer-to-peer networking capabilities, its sophisticated class-of-service features . . . all shot to hell.

IBM did just about everything wrong here. It made APPN gear complicated and costly (it even wanted royalties from potential third parties that could have helped establish the technology, remember that?). APPN's role did bring about one of the great industry squabbles. At one point in 1994, IBM's Rick McGee, promised to "kill" vendors (read: Cisco) and "eat our own young" before IBM would let any rival cannibalize its mainframe channel-attached SNA segment of the network. Ouch.

25M bit/sec ATM to the desktop

Classified mostly as a solution looking for a problem, 25M bit/sec ATM to the desktop failed before it really got rolling. While many folks thought the idea of providing all that bandwidth to user PCs was worthwhile, the idea of paying twice as much for the luxury compared with switched Ethernet didn't fly. It wasn't the last technology Ethernet would whack of course (see HSTR and FDDI).

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High-Speed Token Ring

This technology took a called strike three in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and the bases loaded. Token ring in general by the late '90s was suffering from years of battles with Ethernet. High-Speed Token Ring (HSTR) was supposed to be the last hurrah, but it just never happened. One of our readers summed up HSTR this way: "End users failed to rally around HSTR, and the token-ring vendors are basically giving up." To say the least. By the end of 1998, HSTR's champion, IBM, pulled the plug. Madge and Olicom did the same soon after.

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Once the fashion plate of high-speed LAN users, 100M bit/sec fiber-optic gear has run out of gas. More to the point, faster and less-expensive technologies - such as Gigabit and Fast Ethernet - have supplanted it. Most of the last FDDI chips shipped in January 2000.

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Can you say "overambitious management standards initiative?" Lots of folks did. The Open Software Foundation's Distributed Management Environment (OSF/DME) died a slow death in the early '90s. Still, DME's death and legacy hasn't prevented vendors from trying to come up with other cross-industry standards. Oh, no. Can you say Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM)? By no means a flop just yet, WBEM has some 70 vendors behind it promising a new breed of Web-based tools. We may be writing about his one flopping in our 20th anniversary issue.

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We'd be remiss not to highlight one of the all-time great failures of this industry: Open Systems Interconnection. You may recall that OSI was a set of standards for creating truly interoperable multivendor systems and networking.

It never happened. Oh, the OSI seven-layer model is a reference tool, but products really tanked and users yawned.

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More proof that big, ugly architecturelike movements generally fail. The Distributed Computing Environment (DCE) consisted of directory, security, remote procedure calls and other client/server-based services designed to run across heterogeneous networks. It sounded good and even garnered some user acceptance. But rather than creating a community of interoperable applications, DCE technology essentially "became a collection of proprietary platforms with a common heritage," as one analyst put it.

They said it, all right and some might regret it

Human beings are not blessed with the ability to predict the future. If we were, we'd all make a killing off those office basketball pools. Predictions can be a source of great amusement, though. Below is a collection of the funny and dead-on.

On Microsoft:
"I believe OS/2 is destined to be the most important operating system, and possibly program, of all time. As the successor to DOS, which has over 10 million systems in use, it creates incredible opportunities for everyone involved with PCs." - Bill Gates, chairman, Microsoft, 1988

On ATM to the desktop:
"The 25M bit/sec ATM market still has far too many evangelists and not enough practicing mechanics. But 1996 will be the year 25M bit/sec products out-ship other ATM technologies, like 155M bit/sec adapters." - Thomas Nolle, president, CIMI Corp., spring 1995

"It seems like an answer to a question that nobody's asked. I haven't seen any driving need for slow ATM as opposed to fast or switched Ethernet." - Bert Manfredi, senior engineer, U.S. Navy, spring 1995

On Y2K:
"My pool holds 15,000 gallons of chlorinated water. I will have full gas tanks and enough cash, milk, bread, peanut butter and vegetables to last a month. After that, if things are bad I'm going to start walking out of the desert because if infrastructure fails, I'm not going to stay in Phoenix." - Steve Blass, network architect, Sprint Enterprise Network Services

On the 'Net culture:
"Internet Explorer: It's nice, but no Netscape killer."
—Adam Gaffin, Network World review, February 1996

"During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet." —Al Gore, former vice president, March 1999

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