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ARPANet Co-Founder Predicts An Internet Crisis 152

Posted by Zonk
from the everyone-is-looking-for-their-cut dept.
The Insultant writes "Dr. Larry Roberts, co-founder of the ARPANET and inventor of packet switching, predicts the Internet is headed for a major crisis in an article published on the Internet Evolution web site today. Internet traffic is now growing much more quickly than the rate at which router cost is decreasing, Roberts says. At current growth levels, the cost of deploying Internet capacity to handle new services like social networking, gaming, video, VOIP, and digital entertainment will double every three years, he predicts, creating an economic crisis. Of course, Roberts has an agenda. He's now CEO of Anagran Inc., which makes a technology called flow-based routing that, Roberts claims, will solve all of the world's routing problems in one go."
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ARPANet Co-Founder Predicts An Internet Crisis

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  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @01:15PM (#21115963)

    Of course, Roberts has an agenda. He's now CEO of Anagran Inc., which makes a technology called flow-based routing that, Roberts claims, will solve all of the world's routing problems in one go."
    So why is this making the front page again? Attention, ladies! My seed cures diseases. Can we get that on the front page, too? My agenda is no less shallow than his.
  • News Just In (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JamesRose (1062530) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @01:15PM (#21115965)
    Man with Solution says the is a Problem.

    Yeah, not buyin it. A similar thing happened with electricity, when everyone bought TVs everyone bought computers etc. suddenly of course power usage sky rocketed, and lots of people said, well this is going to be the rate of growth now. Of course, with that, as it is with this, everyone go their TVs and then the demand levelled out, with this, everyone will start downloading videos, and the bandwith usage will level out. Yes, soon we'll need some new routers, but the problem isn't permanent, and it isn't something that we should trust a salesman to deal with.
    • by u38cg (607297)
      I agree. The people who say this sort of thing are the people that were predicting we would run out of oil by 2020, etc,etc. Sure bandwidth is going to become more expensive at the backbone level over the next few years, but that will simply mean better returns for those who invest in it, and the problem will self correct. Economics interprets rising prices as damage and routes around it.
    • I wonder (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bcharr2 (1046322)
      I wonder if everyone on Krypton walked around saying, "That Jor-El! Trying to sell us a rocket to escape an 'impending planetary disaster' to some backwater planet where we'll all have 'superpowers'. Yeah right. What a loser."
  • What's the difference between this flow routing and circuit switching?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mrogers (85392)
      There's no explicit circuit setup or teardown: the flows are detected by the router rather than being established by the endpoints.
    • Similar. (Score:3, Informative)

      What's the difference between this flow routing and circuit switching?

      Flow-based routing attempts to identify flows of packets - TCP connections, related streams of UDP packets, etc. - and cache information about them. Then when future packets of the flow arrive and are successfully identified they can be handled using the cached information, rather than performing a full lookup of routing, QoS labeling, permission checking, etc.

      It may also attempt to identify more things about it - such as what kind of tr
      • In particular:

          - If you use RSVP (or the like) to explicitly reserve bandwidth through the net for your flow, it's emulation of circuit-switching.
          - If the routers identify the flow on the fly from seeing the packets and remember things about it from packet to packet for later decision-making, it's flow-based routing.
      • Just curious to know whether there are any case studies that validate that theory stands up in practice. Don't get me wrong, I am all for new technology, but it is an easier sell if there is real evidence of this making a drastic improvement.
  • by BUL2294 (1081735) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @01:16PM (#21115979)
    Robert Metcalfe predicted this in 1995 [wikipedia.org]. He literally ate his words (a printed InfoWorld article mixed with liquid in a blender) in front of an audience in 1997.
    • And John Dvorak thinks it's a good idea for AMD and Intel to merge. Sometimes, it's better to ignore asshats with stupid opinions.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Uh, yeah, but Dvorak doesn't have any credentials backing him up. Who is John C. Dvorak? Some stupid know-nothing tech journalist. Who is Bob Metcalfe [slashdot.org]? He's the co-inventor of Ethernet, he founded 3COM, and invented Metcalfe's Law.

        Some people at least thought he knew what he was talking about and, well, they had good reason to. I will say that I thought his comment was wrong-headed and stupid, but, then again, what do I know? I'm just some random guy on Slashdot.
        • Scarcity (Score:4, Insightful)

          by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:20PM (#21117779) Journal
          People who freak out about scarcity don't understand economics. Economic pressures drive alternatives and expanded production; we've been seeing this with food since Malthus confidently predicted that food generation could never keep up with current population growth...in 1798.

          As the demand rises, people leap to fill it. When Metcalf decided we were going to run out of switching capacity, he was looking at current manufacturing capacity, and a projected increase in demand, and he was sure that capacity could never keep up with demand.

          What he didn't see is a horde of people looking for ways to make money, who were looking at the same numbers and thinking, "Holy crap! If I make switches I'll be RICH!" Demand drives supply, not the other way around.
          • by timeOday (582209)

            Malthus confidently predicted that food generation could never keep up with current population growth...in 1798
            Part of the reason people in "first-world" countries don't have many kids any more is because it's so expensive. In other parts of the world, children still starve. So I guess he was right.
            • You guess wrong. He predicted famine across the board, starting in the first world countries, because they had the highest population growth curves. He failed to predict the decline in birth rates, which does not relate to cost per child, I'm afraid, but rather to decreased need for their labour, and lower child mortality, and he failed to predict the increase in food production.

              Famines occur for lots of reasons. War, civil unrest, corrupt governments, and countries like us choosing to produce less food tha
  • by Seumas (6865) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @01:17PM (#21115991)
    Create a problem. Solve that problem. Uniquely own that solution in the market. Make everyone need what you have to offer.

    Of course, the first step is that these guys need to really convince everyone that the internet is about to implode and that the companies who need the enormous bandwidth and services simply can't or won't make the hardware investment that is necessary.

    The real threat to the internet are the legislators and lobbyists who want to nerf the internet so that the only use for it is the commercial enterprises and everything should be nerfed down to a Disney-fied toddler's level. That's an actual legitimate threat.

    However, maybe he should peddle the "piracy and torrents are killing the internet and I can save you!" angle. Might work.
  • Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @01:18PM (#21116017)
    Someone submits a slashvertisement, acknowledges it in the summary, and it still gets put on the front page. Brilliant! Also, routing will be just fine. F-U-D.
    • by Almahtar (991773)
      Slashdot doesn't do paid articles. Call it what you want but it was selected to be on Slashdot because the editor thought it was good news. If you disagree that's fine, but don't accuse them of ulterior motives please.
  • by lbmouse (473316) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @01:19PM (#21116029) Homepage
    1. Run around screaming that the sky is falling
    2. Develop and market a product that fixes the sky
    3. ?
    4. Profit!

    He must have read Chicken Little.
    • by KillerCow (213458)
      You've got the order of #1 and #2 reversed, and step 3 is clearly to pay for a slashvertisement.
    • Re:Nice Formula (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sunburnt (890890) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @01:23PM (#21116121)

      1. Run around screaming that the sky is falling 2. Develop and market a product that fixes the sky 3. ? 4. Profit!

      This would make more sense if step 3 was actually a mystery. I thought step 3 was obvious: "Convince influential idiots with money that your product is the greatest and most urgently needed thing since free porn."

    • by pipingguy (566974) *
      Or Gore's books/movie.
  • "Dark fiber"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @01:20PM (#21116041)
    What happened to all that talk of "dark fiber"?
    And how much of the routing problems stem from backbone ISPs (Comcast, Verizon, etc.; see recent /.) wanting to fiddle with packets instead of simply routing them?
    • Fiber is cheap it's the switching equipment that's expensive, notice the article is about the price of switching routers.
    • by evilviper (135110)

      What happened to all that talk of "dark fiber"?

      The fiber is still there. But to use it, you need routers, and TFA is about the cost/performance of routers.

      And how much of the routing problems stem from backbone ISPs (Comcast, Verizon, etc.; see recent /.) wanting to fiddle with packets instead of simply routing them?

      TFA was about the fact that bandwidth is increasing some 1/3rd faster than (some variation of...) Moore's law... Whether or not you do filtering and QoS is completely independent of the point.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2007 @01:20PM (#21116047)
    When the ice caps melt, the tubes will get clogged with dead polar bears.
  • by Eric Smith (4379) * <eric.brouhaha@com> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @01:21PM (#21116087) Homepage Journal
    See "On Distributed Communications", published in 1964.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Gr8Apes (679165)
      A quick google search on "packet switching" reveals several people involved in the development [nytimes.com] of packet [cnn.com] switching [ciol.com], and Larry Roberts is not one of them. He, in fact, supports Leonard Kleinrock [slashdot.org]. That last article [ciol.com] on packet switching may actually be one of the more interesting ones, as it is written by someone that was involved in yet another application external to ARPANet.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This would be a crisis if traffic levels were completely insensitive to price, but they're not. It would be a crisis if ISPs were forced to carry an unlimited amount of traffic on pain of death, but they're not. If it becomes expensive to add new routers, ISPs will pass the costs onto their customers, some of whom will buy less bandwidth than they otherwise would have done. No crisis, just an opportunity for some profitable scaremongering.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @01:21PM (#21116091) Journal
    If the cost increases, they will invest the money and upgrade the network. What is the problem? When MSFT thinks Facebook is worth 15 billion dollars, routers are chump change for them. What is the crisis here? Cost of something is going to go up? Big deal. Oil prices are shooting up. College tuition costs are shooting up. Y ! routing costs?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ThosLives (686517)

      If the cost increases, they will invest the money and upgrade the network.

      Not quite. They will only invest in infrastructure if they think the return on that investment will at a bare minimum keep the same level of profit, and likely only if it will increase their profit.

      Companies don't increase their capacity because cost goes up, they increase capacity because by doing so they can increase or maintain profits.

      The notion that increased revenue increases capacity only works when the markets are free enou

    • by evilviper (135110)

      What is the crisis here? Cost of something is going to go up?

      No, cost of bandwidth is still going to go down... Just (according to him) not as fast as it has in the past.
  • I Doubt It (Score:3, Insightful)

    by penguinboy (35085) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @01:22PM (#21116101)
    People have been claiming "new technology $foo is going to overwhelm the Internet!" for ages. Yet somehow the Internet keeps up. I'm not worried - especially since this guy just so happens to be offering to sell us a solution.
    • by kebes (861706)

      People have been claiming "new technology $foo is going to overwhelm the Internet!" for ages. Yet somehow the Internet keeps up.

      Agreed. Yet it's important to keep in mind that part of "the Internet keeping up" is that the users modify their usage according to what technology allows. Now that it is possible to download video relatively quickly, people are doing it. But trying to stream high-def wouldn't work (either you'd have to wait a really long time to buffer or the video would stutter), so people basic

  • ...against the upcoming class-action P2P lawsuits. Comcast will claim they were trying to save the Internet by messing with BitTorrent, Gnutella, and Lotus Notes traffic.
  • But can we unpublish this article? I mean it doesn't really belong here. The Internet is not going to be overwhelmed by video, VOIP or anything else. It also will not cause a problem with the economy that more data needs to move around. In fact it will HELP the economy.
  • If it's too expensive to deploy the services, then perhaps people will do without the services?

    The traffic will only increase dramatically if people continue to use the services that demand the traffic, and pay for the bandwidth they need to do it.
  • Warning! (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by PPH (736903)
    You have reached the end of the internet p0rn. Please turn back now.
  • I think this is a dup. This is the virtual circuit guy again, isn't it?

  • If we don't get this problem under control, it could mean the END OF THE WORLD!!!!!!

    uh. Of Warcraft. [wikipedia.org]
  • The picture on this page [anagran.com] says it all.

    This is not at all about circuit switching, or routing more efficiently. This about tracking connections through the router so that they can apply policy based on a simple lookup, rather than examining each packet. If they didn't intend to muck with the packets, a "dumb" router is perfectly fine.
  • by hackus (159037) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @01:51PM (#21116543) Homepage
    Leave my internet protocols ALONE thank you very much.

    We will do quite OK without you meddling with our open standards.

    We only need linux, an open TCP stack, and anything that happens I am sure we can handle it with JUST those tools.

    Well, that and an army of a million penguin volunteers.

    We will do fine, really.

    Please peddle your proprietary CRAP OLA somewhere else.

    Thank you.

    -Hack
  • He's now CEO of Anagran Inc., which makes a technology called flow-based routing that, Roberts claims, will solve all of the world's routing problems in one go.

    (rolls eyes)

    What did Anagran pay Slashdot for this posting?

    An anagram (barely) of Anagran is "A nag ran"
  • Not again!

    The imminent death of the internet has been predicted too many times now, but it hasn't happened yet.

    The real killer will be the one we don't see.

    And anyway - the bandwidth limit will always limit the services available at any time. If a service uses too much noone will use it.

  • I can assure you that where there is demand, there will be businesses rushing to provide the supply. Its appalling to see people complaining about excessive demand.
  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladvNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @02:19PM (#21116985) Homepage
    Zonk you fucking moron. You already posted this earlier this month right here [slashdot.org]. Different website, but same guy and same company, of course. Same message, same bullshit!

    You have officially crossed into the JonKatz zone. Not only do you post duplicates, but you post slanted slashvertisment duplicates! Your articles are worthless.

    It's too bad all I can do is ignore you, but it's about time I finally did. I recommend everyone else do the same, so we can finally hit home that bullshit editors will not be tolerated.
  • How could any new 'thingy' for the intarweb tubes work if it aint IpVeeSix compliant? He never mentioned that once in the FA. Obviously they don't have a very good marketing team, so how good could the product actually be? huh? Tell me! It'll probably be okay for public schools and libraries, but not for the REAL intarweb!
  • The movie, produced 1972 while the Internet was still a toddler, is titled Computer Networks: The Heralds of Resource Sharing [google.com]. There is also a Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] about the film.

    I watched this video a while ago. I think this is an appropriate time and place to bring it up.
  • It is true that by offering a solution to a problem a conflict of interest is introduced, but there is more to this piece than just that. In describing problems of network growth the author Lawrence G. Roberts makes references to different types of network traffic having different impacts on networking equipment. Responding to these specific challenges implies that the desirability of networking equipment which can respond to, such as by throttling, network usage based on packet information such as the da

  • Internet traffic is now growing much more quickly than the rate at which router cost is decreasing,

    This sounds like Moore's Law working against us.

    Truth is that such growth rates must eventually slow as we run out of new users and new must-have apps to run in the Internet. That will not likely happen tomorrow, however. So where's all this Dark Fiber waiting for light?

  • ... Netcraft have to say on the subject?

    Are the internets dieing or what?
  • I'll believe the Internet is dead only when Netcraft confirms it.
  • Back in 2001 Roberts insisted, in the midst of the technology industry's nuclear winter, that the Internet was growing faster then ever [carrierhotels.com]. He had a company selling gear at that time (presumably a different company than the one being promoted today), so that was a convenient prediction. Funny how this guy's visionary thinking always aligns with a business model for a company he's backing.
  • Am I the only one tired of hearing every problem ... even easily surmountable ones ... referred to as a "crisis"?? Crisis: "a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger" Not enough routers is an *intense* difficulty? Uhhhh ... how about shifting Youtube use to after-business-hours only? How about routing phone calls through wired telephone networks? "Crisis" solved?

If you hype something and it succeeds, you're a genius -- it wasn't a hype. If you hype it and it fails, then it was just a hype. -- Neil Bogart

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