StratVantage Consulting, LLC — Mike’s Take on the News 06/26/01

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StratVantage Consulting, LLC — Mike’s Take on the News 06/26/01

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The News – 06/26/01

Here’s To Looking Up Your Old Address, Part 2

Yesterday we examined the problem of finding people in cyberspace. No one wants a white pages of email addresses because of spam, but it’s becoming harder and harder to find old acquaintances and business contacts in an increasingly freelance world.

Today, we’ll look at a related problem: network addresses. Any device connected to a network needs one so you can find it. When you go to , for example, the Domain Name System translates that into the IP address As billions of devices come online (wireless phones and PDAs, houses, refrigerators, microwaves) the numbering scheme used to assign network addresses, known as IPv4, will run out of addresses, as soon as next year or as far off as 2010. Computer scientists have been preparing for this eventuality by readying the next generation of Internet addressing, known as IPv6.

You’d think that a scheme that increases the address space from 4 billion to 340 undecillion * and allows users to set up priority circuits for time-critical traffic like audio and video would be an easy sell.

* (That improbably large number is 2 to the 128th power or 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456; enough to assign IP addresses to all the grains of sand on all the beaches on Earth, according to one analyst. If the address space of IPv4 is equivalent to one inch, IPv6 is equivalent to the diameter of the Milky Way.)

But IPv6 is not an easy sell. Just like evolution, the Holocaust, and global warming, there are those who say it ain’t necessarily so.

The culprits, as always, are money and politics. First, Microsoft, a member of the IPv6 forum, refused to support IPv6 in Windows 2000. Then, they declined to support it in the upcoming Windows XP. Too experimental, they claimed, yet Sun has IPv6 support in Solaris 8. When the 107 companies in the IPv6 Forum meet at the Global IPv6 Summit Seoul, Korea, on July 3-6, 2001, there’ll be even more gnashing of teeth. At the most recent summit in May, Cisco announced it was supporting IPv6 across its product line.

Converting to IPv6 is not an easy thing. For one thing, every router in the world needs to be replaced or upgraded. For another, every operating system or other network-enabled piece of software also needs to be upgraded. (Can you see part of Microsoft’s rationale in not building in IPv6 support, now?) Plus you need to make sure the old networks can communicate with the new during the transition.

Networks in Europe and Asia are quickly embracing the new standard, in part because it is friendlier to wireless devices. But North American networks are dragging their feet, primarily due to cost, but also because we have 74 percent of the IP addresses and low wireless Web penetration, and so have no reason to panic, yet.

Another reason is the popularity of Network Address Translating (NAT) firewalls. By convention, you only need a unique IP address if there’s a chance other computers could have the same address. Many corporate networks assign arbitrary IP addresses for use within their organizations, and then use NAT to assign the same external IP address to all users when they venture out onto the Internet. This works well for corporations and ISPs, but when we hit a billion cell phones, the NAT technique is likely to get strained. Besides, NATs make end-to-end security on the Internet a real pain in the butt, and IPv6 has built-in security.

Still, there are signs of life, even in the US, where Japanese telecom NTT has already established an IPv6 network that connects to others in Japan and Europe.

So what should businesses do about these twin problems: finding people and finding computing devices? With the new .name domain name due out by year end, perhaps people will buy domain names and thus consolidate their access. However, only geeks like me ( ) are likely to jump on that possibility. Perhaps the big email databases will eventually get it right and be able to accurately locate business people whose cards you’ve lost. Maybe unified messaging will solve the problem, at least for folks who stay put at one company. Or perhaps some entrepreneur will come up with an ingenious solution.

As far as finding and addressing the torrent of new computing devices rushing onto the scene, businesses making new networking purchases should make sure they are IPv6 upgradeable. You should also plan to include some IPv6 conversion money in your networking budget over the next few years. And you should also realize that conversion to IPv6 networks will likely cause Internet outages over the next several years.

Whatever the solution, we will fulfill the ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.

IPv6 Forum

Briefly Noted

  • Are They Kidding? The World Bank has had some problems holding its meetings lately. Seems that folks who disagree with their policies have a tendency to show up and manacle themselves in human chains and otherwise behave badly. So now the WB has decided to hold its next meeting online, figuring, I guess, that this will somehow decrease the amount of disruption. Hello? Can you say denial of service attack? The WB plans to hold email discussions of online speeches and other Webcast events. “To have 200 academics protected by 4,000 police would have been absurd,” said a spokeswoman for the World Bank. So they’d prefer 200 academics protected by 4,000 anti-cracker forces? The meeting is next week. Should be interesting.
  • Moore’s Law Still In Business: Intel Chairman of the Board Emeritus, Gordon Moore, predicted many years ago that transistor density on microprocessor chips would double every 18 months. In 1993, he reconsidered, saying there were limits beyond which chipmakers couldn’t go. Intel busted those limits in the late ‘90s, and now they’ve created experimental chips only a few atoms thick. This research will enable microprocessors containing a billion transistors, running at speeds approaching 20 gigahertz and operating at less than one volt in approximately 2007. But chances are good your computer will still take 2 minutes to boot up!
  • The Gov Gets StarOffice: Sun announced that the US Department of Defense has adopted 25,000 units of StarOffice, Sun’s free, Open Source MS Office clone. StarOffice works on UNIX and Windows machines and bundles word processing, spreadsheet, mail and other productivity tools. It’s Sun’s attempt to hurt Microsoft where it lives, its Office cash cow. More than 5 million copies of the software have been downloaded. Nonetheless, the government adoption is a feather in Sun’s cap.
  • Wireless Knowledge Gap: A recent study from Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) Telecoms, Europe found that 89 percent of US internet users with cell phones say that they are either “unaware” or feel “poorly informed” about wireless internet technology. This compares with 44 percent of Germans and 23 percent of Italians who feel “well informed” or “fairly informed.” Only 20 percent of US users sent messages via cell phone, vs. 90 percent of Europeans. In fact, email usage is down 5 percent in the UK due to increased Short Message Service (SMS) cell phone messages.
  • In a Rental, No One Can Hear You Scream: OK, technology has officially gone too far. Acme Rent-a-Car used Global Positioning System GPS technology to track a Connecticut customer and then fined him $450 for speeding three times. Seems the company has a threshold of 79 mph, and their dangerous behavior policy is stated in bold at the top of the rental agreement. It’s only going to get worse, folks, as your wireless carrier will soon be able to track you wherever you go as well.
  • Most Manufacturers Use Trading Networks: The US Census surveyed 40,000 manufacturers and found 87.3 percent had at least one type of electronic network installed in their plant, with 65.9 percent saying that they operated two or more networks. EDI was the most popular, followed by the Internet.
  • Serious Web Vulnerability in MS Server: Microsoft has acknowledged that its Internet Information Server (IIS) contains a serious flaw that could give crackers system level access. If you’re running IIS, MS has a patch available

Can’t Get Enough of ME?

In the unlikely event that you want more of my opinions, I’ve started a Weblog. It’s the fashionable thing for pundits to do, and I’m doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web page. If you’d like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do, you can create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows you FTP access, and the free software from . This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts to your Weblog.

I’ve dubbed my Weblog entries “Stratlets”, and they are available at . Let me know what you think. Also check out the TrendSpot for ranking of the latest emerging trends.

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