Tag Archives: LANs and WANs

47.xxx.xxx.xxx Now Microsoft

As reported in domain incite, Microsoft paid $7.5 million for control of the 700,000 IP addresses that had been assigned to Nortel.

I remember that there was a time when Nortel Networks was responsible for an entire class-A IP address space. As the company’s Internet Evangelist from 1995-1997, I used this fact in my regular presentations, talks and writings at the time about how the Internet was going to change the industry and society.

Despite the ignomy of being bankrupt and then sold for parts, the pride of Canadian information technology research was one of only a few enterprises with hefty research units that received a class-A address (IBM and AT&T at the time were two others) when the Internet address space was being designed in the 1980s and early 1990s. As far as I can tell, class A refers to the addresses that start with one of the 255 possible numbers in the first block of the 4-part IPv4 address: 47.xxx.xxx.xxx. You can learn more about IP v4 addressing here.

This sale was the first recorded sale of IP addresses since the IANA gave out the last IP v4 address block earlier this year. The Internet service provider industry has no choice left, but to begin the process of migrating to IP v4 which offers a significantly greater address space, with built in security and roaming capabilities. IP v6 has been on the books for the better part of a decade and was informally called IPng (IP – next generation) in honor of the cast of the Star Trek Next Generation TV show. This seems so outdated now.

Debunking Broadband Hysteria

national broadband policy

national broadband policyProponents of a [[National Broadband Plan]] argue that our national competitiveness depends on the deeper penetration of high speed Internet services, which can only be achieved with massive subsidized investments to the local, rural telephone and cable companies that service remote and rural markets in the heartland of America.

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Keystone’s Internet Health Report

keynote

keynoteThe quality of network service is increasingly a big concern for many users and for many applications. That’s because more and more people are being exposed to real-time applications running over IP. Sure, some of these are store and forward apps – Xbox-based Netflicks or Zune streaming – and some are real-time – Xbox-based live game playing, VoIP and video conferencing.

Either way, the user’s experience is negatively impacted when there is a network outage or congestion. My own Xbox-Netflicks experience has been degraded in recent weeks for no apparent reason. First, I thought it was my physical LAN connection, so I made a new Ethernet connector.

Then, I thought it was my DNS configuration, so I posted my own DNS server and my cableco’s DNS server addresses.

Now, I think it’s just congestion on the cableco network at a certain time of day, near 4 pm where there may be many kids in the neighborhood playing Xbox live… I’m keeping a log of when the service interrupts so I can speak intelligently about the problem and maybe even see patterns over time.

But, this Internet Health Report tool from Keynote Systems provides a simple mechanism to view inter-network connection quality. The tool presents the matrix of latency results measured in ms, and averaged over 1 hour, four hours or 24 hours. Similarly, I can click on the metric drop down box and choose to see network availability in % over the past 1 hour, four hours or 24 hours. Or, packet loss over the same period.

Users can click on any one origin-destination pair and see all three results for that combination.

This kind of independent, third-party service performance tool will increasingly be useful as users ask the question, what’s wrong with my ____ and what can I do, if anything, to fix it? Users will use it to choose carriers or at least integrate it into their troubleshooting practices.

IT Expo: GlobalCapacity Sees Pendulum Swinging…

globalcapacitylogo

globalcapacitylogoIn a post-IT Expo briefing, I spent a few minutes with Greg Hough, the CTO of GlobalCapacity, who gave me an update of the company’s integration with Vanco, a network integrator and newest contributor to the telecom access network pricing/integration/logistics services company. Greg explained that the network integration services business is a terrific complement to the company’s Saas and strategic sourcing operations and integration has been very fast. The network integration is an enabler of other business models and strengthens the company’s competitive differentiation vis-a-vis other Saas or virtual network operations company by providing a complete logistics operation.

Pendulum Swings to Enterprise WANs?

I have blogged about GlobalCapacity in recent months and in this update briefing, Greg gave me fresh insights about the nature of competition and how the access network is still the biggest bottleneck to effective enterprise network operations. In the past few years, large enterprise network departments have been largely frozen by fear. Fear of change, fear of commitment and fear of changing technology.

Greg’s insight is that the current stressful economic conditions have forced companies to overcome that fear and rethink the assumptions in the way they do things. For telecom engineers and managers this means that they have not only worked to rethink their enterprise network and operations, but they have acted and are acting on those new approaches to network design and operations.

Greg argues that the pendulum that had swung in favor of outsourced WANs through virtual services such as MPLS and frame relay are swinging back to enterprise-owned MPLS networks and operations. Customers have CCIEs on staff programming remote router backup processes, but are otherwise underutilized. They have the scale to benefit from lower cost services, 7×24 monitoring and faster responsiveness. GlobalCapacity’s unique knowledge and resources provide the skills to automate and coordinate contracts with local access providers around the world.

IT Expo: Ecessa Introduces Last Mile Survivability

ecessa-logo

ecessa-logoWhile at IT Expo, I met with Ron Thomas, CEO and Marc Goodman, Director of Marketing for Ecessa (pronounced E-ses-sa), a Plymouth MN appliance manufacturer with an inexpensive load balancing solution to enable ‘last mile survivability.’

As I listened to Ron tell me about the company’s transformation from a manufacturer of DSU/CSUs years ago to a manufacturer of PowerLink and ShieldLink appliances for managing various applications for access line survivability – including SIP sessions, I was reminded of a particularly painful experience one friend had with enabling automatic balancing between two access lines (last mile) from different carriers/service providers. My buddy Sri had one DSL circuit with a certain IP address range coming from SBC (it was a few years ago in a big southwestern state) and a cableco connection with a certain other IP address range coming from his local cableco.

The problem was to assure that users anywhere on the Internet could access his servers regardless of the state of any one access line. I searched Google for possible solutions and so on… it was a sad day in Mudsville when I had to admit that I didn’t know…

smbusiness… Ron explained to me that DNS is a hierarchical Internet service where ISP’s DNS servers accept their addressing data from other, authoritative servers. In Sri’s case, the appliance sits in the enterprise network between the two links. It authenticates itself to the DNS services of an ISP as the definitive, authoritative DNS server for Sri’s domain. The server sets a time-to-live feature of DNS records at something like thirty seconds and then round-robins the DNS requests between the two IP addresses, and two access lines. This way both services are exercised and you don’t get into circumstances were the backup line was out of service, having failed a month ago, but because it had never been used no-one knew it was out of service until it was needed, and the switchover is less than 30 seconds.

In Sri’s case, he used one until an outage and then used the other through a manual process of updating DNS servers, waiting for their propagation to occur and so on. Pain.

PowerLinks can be paired back-to-back to enable bonding between multiple access links and up-to-six remote sites for higher performance, or by using the ShieldLink appliance, higher security including VPN Gateway functionality. The portfolio of appliances can also monitor QoS, allocating bandwidth and switching services onto specific links when jitter, delay and packet loss exceed some administrator-set threshold.

The ClariLink WAN Optimization Controller is able to fortify availability of SIP communications in remote offices. Since the appliance incorporates a SIP proxy and registrar, it is intimately involved in the signaling of all outbound and incoming SIP communications. So, if one of the last mile access links fail during a voice or video communication, the SIP proxy can instantly order the RTP stream of traffic to the alternative link saving the communications path. The demo I heard at the show involved a momentary silence of duration probably less than 500 milliseconds, which is barely perceptible by most users.

With ClariLink users avoid having to redial the call and are able to continue the conversation as if nothing had happened. Others can continue after an interruption of one or more minutes depending on how fast the last mile switchover might have occurred. If this circumstance was at my friend Sri’s network, it might have been an hour or more. Clearly, Ecessa shows how survivability pays for small businesses.