And what about IP?

As we continue to wind down this series of newsletter, we still have two opportunities to look back and forward. In this next-to-last newsletter, we will tackle the question of the future of IP.

We mentioned last week that this newsletter started its life as the "Frame Relay Newsletter." At that point 13 years ago, IP was just beginning to emerge for corporate network transport even though the Internet was going pretty strongly. For the most part, corporate use of IP (and other protocols such as SNA) was used over a more deterministic infrastructure, ranging from dedicated transmission services to frame relay to ATM.

One major issue surrounding the use of IP in the infrastructure was the amount of packet overhead. Indeed, it made the "cell tax" of ATM look minimal. Addressing was (and is) an issue. But the biggest issue was reliability and security.

IP was developed in a secure environment for use in a secure environment in which it was assumed that those using the network would willingly follow the rules. As such, the "openness" of the IP has been a hallmark from the beginning, with all of the associated positive and negative implications.

Over the years, this has continued to be an issue. Early security attacks were fairly easily dealt with. However, as more sophisticated counter-measures were put into place, the attacks have likewise become more sophisticated. "Simple" TCO-SYN Denial of Service attacks still happen - just as they have for years. Address spoofing remains an issue. And the list goes on.

There's a bit of irony in the fact that one of our first newsletters concerned a major network outage of AT&T's frame relay network. At that point, we discussed the need for network diversification. And while network diversification is still a major issue, diversification only happens with interconnection. And interconnection leads to more peering points, each of which presents to possibility of a rogue player coming into the mix.

There's no doubt that a part of the solution is a move to IPv6. This will address some but not all of the issues.

Doubtlessly, Internet-based VPNs are a part of most network infrastructures. And this is appropriate in that the economies and cost per bit-per-second is unbeatable.

Nevertheless, we would be irresponsible if we did not leave you with a caution that a backup plan must be in place. Sooner or later, we fear that a major Internet outage is inevitable. And we found it somewhat ironic that within the past two weeks we received an email from a major supplier of satellite-based systems (naturally) advocating having a totally Internet-independent link among major sites.

Also, as mentioned in the last newsletter, we would love to keep in touch with you. To make sure you have continuous access to this communication, please let us know by clicking here.

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