If you could ask Vint Cerf anything, what would you ask?

I'm soon to spend 30-minutes interviewing the Father of the Internet. What would you like to know?

Vint Cerf
In about two weeks, Vint Cerf and I will be sitting in a room at Colorado University in Boulder having a chat. What would you like me to ask him? Post your questions here, on this blog, or e-mail them to me at jbort@nww.com, or Tweet them to @Julie188. If you send it, I'll ask it (as long as it's polite and relevant).

Cerf, who is currently employed by Google as its vice president and Chief Internet Evangelist, will be the keynote speaker at the Silicon Flatirons annual State of the Broadband Industry Conference at CU Boulder. (I'll be live Tweeting his keynote on @Julie188. If you want to virtually be there, follow me before February 13.)

Here are some thoughts to get the questions rolling ...

Cerf has been warning the world of IP address depletion for years upon years. (And he's been humorously apologetic for being the one that caused the problem, being the guy that decided to use 32 bits back in the day). When the last blocks were assigned this week, he told PC Magazine:

"You can certainly run dual-stack in the routers to serve both types of packets," Cerf said. "You can certainly run dual-stack at edge devices, if the device has been provided with both address types. The IPv4 address might be a NAT assignment using so-call 'private IP address space.' ... [When] that exhaustion occurs (and it won't happen in a uniform way—some places will run out before others), then there will be some devices that only have IPv6 assignments. They will not be able to directly interact with IPV4-only devices."

Cerf says at that point, NAT and application layer gateways will have to do the address translation, but that this isn't as good as if all networks and devices natively use IPv6. (btw, Jeff Doyle explained the NAT solution in his post: Can Large Scale NAT save IPv4?)

Any questions for Cerf on the IPv6 generally or the IPv4/IPv6 transition?

Cerf's has been a proponent of cloud computing standards ... something he once called the Inter-Cloud. He says cloud computing today is like networking was in 1973, there's no standard way of moving data from one spot to another. In 2010, numerous cloud standards were proposed, Rackspace's OpenStack, Red Hat's Deltacloud, Cloud.com's CloudStack to name a few, each championed by different vendors and sent into the protection of different oversight groups (Apache, DMTF, etc.)

How should I question Cerf about this trend, and about these standards in particular?

About a year ago, Cerf began speaking about a concept he called the "InterPlaNetary Internet." As we send more stuff out into space, and farther from Earth,  one-to-one radio type communications grows too inefficient. But IP (even the wonderful IPv6) can't handle the kinds of latency that sending packets to Mars would entail.

What more would you like to know about that?

More recently, Cerf expressed some rare opinions on the business of Google, saying he felt the retirement of CEO Eric Schmidt was a good thing for Google. Are you interested in his thoughts about Google's business future? For my part, I'm more interested in the claims and actions Google has taken in its efforts to "speed up the Internet." The company has placed a long list of projects under that umbrella. It's browser, Chrome, it's Chrome operating system, the launching of a public DNS service, to name just a few.  In 2009, Google even created a new Internet protocol called SPDY.

What should I ask Cerf about Google's plans to speed the Internet? About SPDY? About other protocols or projects?

Cerf is a notorious proponent of an "open" Internet and has expressed grave concerns about people's personal security, wanting, for instance, federated identity management and not a central authentication system (he says such a system would be too big a target for the bad guys). But I'm curious as to what he thinks about governments who view the Internet as evil while people view the Internet as a form of freedom and want to protect their "right" to use it. There are now numerous examples of governments developing or using technologies to censor/stop the Internet (China's Golden Shield Project, Egypt's shutdown, the U.S.'s own bill to create an Internet 'Kill Switch').

What should I ask him about technologies that give government that kind of control? Technologies that prevent them for having it?

Please let me know which of the above topics interest you most and if there are any other topics I should be sure to touch on. Looking forward to having a conversation with you about my conversation with Cerf (and all related areas).

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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