Letters to the editor: "How carriers handle excess real-time traffic in their MPLS VPN nets"

How carriers handle excess real-time traffic in their MPLS VPN nets; Administering Active Directory from a workstation; Microsoft looks for ways to combat Blue Pill, code-signing bypass; Updating CAN SPAM; Vista testers fuming as beta judged lacking; Linux event shows move to mainstream; Cool Tools” item, “USB flash drives evolve into application powerhouses

Verizon Business responds

“How carriers handle excess real-time traffic in their MPLS VPN nets” fails to provide essential context.

Dropping excess traffic under certain circumstances is no secret. There are sound, technical reasons for this industry practice and more importantly, Verizon Business offers solutions to our customers at the outset to help avoid this situation.

Applications such as voice that are delay and jitter sensitive are classified as real-time traffic. For such applications, the data is useless if it arrives late, so it is preferable to drop the traffic rather than buffer it and deliver it late. The impact of lost or delayed packets on these applications is generally identical, so dropping the traffic is the better decision if congestion on a customer’s Private IP network occurs. By carving out a defined Committed Access Rate (CAR) for real-time traffic, Verizon Business’ Private IP can monitor traffic at ingress -- which means that we can support robust end-to-end SLAs to deliver highly reliable business-class voice, video and data services to our customers.

Further, Verizon Business works closely with customers up front to determine committed bandwidth requirements for their IP-based applications and we provide tools to optimize their network experience. Case in point, we offer dynamic bandwidth functionality to enable real-time bandwidth adjustments, in addition to numerous reporting and application analysis tools from industry-leading vendors that provide for both visibility and optimization to help ensure properly sized networks and circuits. These tools help size a customer’s network to help ensure that bandwidth-sensitive enterprise applications, such as VoIP, operate with a high quality of service. In fact, these are all critical elements of our Private IP network service that allow Verizon Business customers to enjoy one of the best service experiences available today.

Verizon Business offers world-class global capabilities coupled with industry-leading service-level agreements. While your article was not inaccurate, it is important to report the whole story.

Michael Marcellin

Director of IP & Ethernet networking

Verizon Business

Basking Ridge, N.J.

Administering Active Directory

Regarding “Administering Active Directory from a workstation”: I am not a fan of installing consoles and administration modules on workstations for the purpose of administering servers. It just gets too complicated. My preference is to install Terminal Services on the server in Administration Mode (if it's not already in Application Lode). I then can log into the server using an RDP client and function just as if I'm at the console. I feel that this is cleaner and much easier to allow someone to administer a server (or the domain) regardless of where they happen to be. There have been many times when working at a user's desktop that I needed to get to AD or Exchange or Citrix to make a configuration or permissions change that would otherwise have required my going back to my workstation to effect.

Hank Arnold

Network administrator

Hospice, Inc.

Hyde Park, N.Y.

Fatal flaw

Regarding “Microsoft looks for ways to combat Blue Pill, code-signing bypass”: I laughed while reading that Microsoft's Austin Wilson, in talking about Joanna Rutkowska's Blue Pill, said: "If you’re running as a standard user, this wouldn’t work.” The majority of Windows users either log in as "Administrator" or use accounts that have administrative rights. This is as stupid a practice as doing everything as "root" on a Unix/Linux box. Any security is for the most part neutralized in such circumstances. The fundamental security flaw here is education (nothing new there).

Microsoft's OSes will continue be the big (easy) target, because its users simply leave their doors wide open.

Dave Brady

Santa Clara

Let’s can CAN SPAM

Regarding Mark Gibbs’ BackSpin column, “Updating CAN SPAM”: Surely you jest, Mr. Gibbs! Updating a piece of contentious legislation that was just passed not even three years ago? We'll be lucky if Congress finishes debating any update to CAN SPAM by the time another three years have gone by...at which point another update will already be necessary.

The problem here is trying to legislate technology where there is strong incentive to not follow the rules. That's always a losing battle. I'd rather have someone else come up with technology that lets users adopt a system that inherently makes spamming impossible (like a real verification of the sender's identity) and let that spread and evolve at the same pace that the spammers do. Or at least at a pace a helluva lot faster than Congress ever will.

Another problem with CAN SPAM is the lack of a clear way to report offenses with any expectation that things will change. I still get monthly account update e-mails from a credit union that I withdrew all my funds from and ceased business with nearly a year ago. This despite several e-mails and phone calls to everyone I can get a hold of at the credit union. I suspect this is more due to confusion and disorganization than it is to maligned intent, but it's still annoying because the e-mails are loaded with HTML and other scripts that slow my computer to a crawl when the e-mail loads.

Where's the teeth in CAN SPAM that I can use to dope-slap this credit union with to get them to get off their duffs and stop? The FTC's own complaint form says that "...the FTC does not resolve individual consumer problems...". So what good is that to me? Call me selfish, but most peoples' reaction to spam is on a visceral level. People don't want the FTC "investigating" – they want the FTC to do a Vardan Kushnir on the spammer's butt and they want it right now. What good is CAN SPAM doing for that? Zilcho...and it never will.

Instead of spending untold millions in real dollars and man-hours on updating a law that will never really work, I'd rather see Congress grant the money to some enterprising entrepreneur who'll find a real solution.

Aaron Read

Broadcast engineer

FriedBagels Technical Consulting

Melrose, Mass.

Views on Vista

"Vista testers fuming as beta judged lacking" states that no anti-virus products currently works on Vista Beta 2. Using the public beta, I have installed a beta of Trend Micro's PC-cillin, CA's anti-virus and (after applying the latest Beta 2 patches) AVG's free anti-virus product. Also, Beta 2 has been fairly stable on the PCs I have put it on. Just my 2 cents on the Vista beta experience.

Edward Baichtal

IT manager

AirLink Communications

Hayward, Calif.

Regarding “Vista testers fuming as beta judged lacking”: Microsoft doesn't need a home run; the financial analysts need a home run. With as much of the market as Microsoft has locked up, there is no non-Windows OS for people to migrate to en masse, and they're not going to drop XP just because the new version of Vista is screwed up. For years Microsoft's biggest weakness in terms of its public perception has been that it makes buggy code. If Microsoft took the time and got it right, it could wait years before putting out a new OS. I still use Windows 2000, the cleanest release ever. I have yet to see a compelling reason to go to XP. It will be a long time before I go to Vista or recommend it to my clients.

Ray Tracy

Owner

Navion Medical Imaging

Prince George, B.C.

Linux plays nice

Your story, “Linux event shows move to mainstream” states, “Besides keeping open source systems safe, another issue on the minds of users is making Linux play well with others.” In many cases it's not Linux that isn't playing well, it's other systems, which use undocumented, proprietary formats instead of fully documented open standards that are freely accessible to everyone. The most notable example of this is Microsoft, which regularly embraces, extends and extinguishes once-open formats or specifications to be almost open, yet with a tiny tweak to make them not quite interoperable with the open standard and using as many proprietary specifications as possible.

Linux, on the other hand, is trying quite hard to interoperate well with proprietary standards or formats: .doc format support in OpenOffice, arguably even better than between different Microsoft Office versions; pretty good Win32 application compatibility via Wine; Samba for Windows Networking support; and NTFS support for NTFS Windows file system access compatibility. All of these had to be almost entirely reverse engineered due to incorrect or missing documentation.

Andreas Mohr

Karlsruhe, Germany

Processor still needed

Regarding your “Cool Tools” item, “USB flash drives evolve into application powerhouses”: Hang on to your laptop for a while yet. A USB drive contains no processor and cannot run anything at all.

The USB "drives" have improved in speed and capacity enough that they can almost be effectively used as a substitute for a hard drive or CD. You still need a powerful processor, lots of high-speed RAM and someplace to swap that RAM in order to run modern applications.

You might be able to do away with the hard drive, but performance will suffer dramatically without swap space -- and using the type of memory found in USB drives as swap space is a really bad idea. Furthermore, there is no distinction from a storage perspective between data and applications, as the article seems to imply.

Tyson Vickers

Toronto

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