[iDC] Whose Future Internet?

Andreas Schiffler aschiffler at ferzkopp.net
Mon Feb 27 18:58:47 EST 2006

I'm a technical "lurker" on the list - so let me chime in on this topic ...

>>of Internet2 is hardwired into its routers. The routers of current
>>TCP/IP Internet merely direct data packages between client and server in
>>the fastest way possible. The routers of Internet2 have the built-in
>>ability to filter content.
>Did you finally get the tech explanation of this? Can anyone tell us now, in exactly what way the I2 routers differ? Is it just different protocols (logical layers like BGP etc)? Or is it also hardware? To what extent is DRM "built in" to Internet2 ?
>I would really like to have the answers but obviously, it's not just explained on the official sites,	 and I am afraid I haven't time to do the sleuthing myself, not right now anyway.

I did a quick search for some of the corporate sponsors of the I2 
project on internet2.edu and came up with - as an example - this recent 
document with a nice picture of some actual hardware.

Anyhow, to find out what I2 hardware is capable of, one just needs to 
look at technical documentation for some of the components:
- I spot a Cisco 6513 - this is just a switch, although it can be 
upgraded with some encryption features, its just a plain old switch with 
the usual VLAN features.
- There is a Nortel OME 6500 - this is a convergence product  that can 
combine Layer-0 (photonic), Layer-1 (SONET/SDH) and Layer-2 (Packet) 
data. No DRM in this one.
- We also find a Nortel HDXc - another optical convergence item. I 
especially like the "wavelength grooming capability" of this unit.
- Finally there is a Cisco ONS 15454 in the rack - a multiservice 
transport box which is used to wrap/unwrap the various higher level 

So this looks just like a fancy broadband router to me and this 
particular unit has no more fancy filtering to what is already in use 
today. I do not feel threatend by I2 hardware any more than what is 
running the IPv4 stuff today.

Having said that, we have to remember though, that all these things are 
run by software - a lot of software. And software can be changed and and 
"molded" into whatever one wants it to do, including filtering DRM and 
other big-brothereske stuff. It can also be subverted and hacked - for 
good or for bad purposes. And then there is a simple physical argument: 
real data analysis of todays information glut requires some specialized 
hardware - vonNeumann machine style CPUs used in todays PCs and I2's 
router are hardly the right devices but specialized patter matchers are. 
Also remember that DRM requires a DRM enabled client (WMP anyone). It is 
worrying for me to see that a primarily hardware project like I2 has 
Microsoft and IBM on the corporate members list. The fight for DRM will 
be fought on the client side in my view.

At least there is pulver.com on the I2 corporate list as well - maybe 
we'll see Fred's vision of free phone calls using until the end of days 
- if, and only if  what you say happens to pass the speech-firewall rules.


More information about the iDC mailing list