Episteme

Mike's random thoughts and ramblings

Constraints and The Bandwidth Problem

I got in a conversation last week about the upcoming bandwidth crisis in the core. I've managed to forget about those issues more and more over the past few months. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about vulnerability research and social engineering lately at the expense of a lot of other security thinking. But that conversation and this article brought my thinking back to the infrastructure side of security. From the article:

“The super-high-speed cable is now hidden under six feet of Cornish beach-which is just as well, because if it were discovered and damaged, the entire web in Britain could turn to treacle. Warren Pole reports on the fragile network of ocean cabling that keeps the modern world turning, the madcap economics of internet supply-and why it will run out of space by 2014 unless scientists think of something... fast.”

While we're pushing bandwidth at the final mile (I'm able to get 25Mbps down, and that's not even on FIOS), we're going to run in to significant snags at the key chokepoints - the core internet infrastructure and the transoceanic cables.

According to the article, there are nine cables joining the US and England that have a capacity over 39Tbps.

When I started in security in the 90s, we spent a lot of time talking about infrastructure and the core. Then, we "solved" a lot of the bandwidth problems in the late 90s and got ahead of the game.

And now we're deploying video across the net. I watched UFC 100 the other night through Yahoo. All of my TV is via iTunes/AppleTV.

We're not prepared for users like me. And that doesn't even consider the idea of wholesale IPTV. No question - the idea of trying to lay cable to solve this problem is going to be difficult to keep up with. These cable links, which can be seen simultaneously as being tenuous and formidable, retro and high tech and innovative and shortsighted, are a model for the often unpredicted but possibly anticipated challenges that keep us in business.

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Michael Murray

Michael Murray