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Dependability of public e-communication networks – ropes to skip 4

November 8th, 2008 · 4 Comments ·

    Resilience describes the ability of communications networks in providing and maintaining acceptable level of service in the face of various challenges to normal operations.

More and more we live in world where the use of information and communication technology is part of our daily lives. Hence dependability and network resilience is becoming ever more important for all of us. I began this series with an introductory post here:

Dependability of public e-communication networks – ropes to skip – introduction

I followed up with discussing challenges 1, 2 & 3:

1) Setting the dependability rules is difficult ===> Dependability of public e-communication networks ropes to skip 1

2) You need collaboration ===> Dependability of public e-communication networks – ropes to skip 2

3) Paper is patient – making it happen is the challenge ===> Dependability of public e-communication networks – ropes to skip 3

Today I continue addressing:

3) Improving hardware, software and network architecture

Many of today’s network problems are due to software glitches, hardware breakdowns and a lack of system redundancy. Identifying of weak spots is critical. Implementing remedial action is the next logical step. All this takes planning , time and resources in order to design and implement viable solutions successfully.

Challenge: Building a better mousetrap requires analyzing the problem, making decisions and investing as well as implementing solutions within one to three years. Talk is cheap – actions speak louder than words.

Improving network dependability requires more than just improving the infrastructure. Managing network capacity effectively requires software to optimize traffic flows. Hence, a software bug or hardware failure as far as a network switch is concerned makes a wonderful infrastructure useless. Put differently, network infrastructure – cable, conduits, etc. – is an important component but without the properly functioning software or hardware, the network cannot achieve satisfactoriy performance.

The above risk is exacerbated with the trend of having ever more applications being based on distributed computing or what is also called computing in a cloud:

10 fallacies of distributed computing

Moreover, a service offered by one group, such as the London Stock Exchange trading system, uses complex software platforms that require extensive and reliable infrastructure but things can and do go wrong:

LSE outage – five lessons for achieving better network dependability

Our ever increasing dependability on reliable and resilient public e-communication networks is making us ever more vulnerable to hardware failures, software bugs and network problems that make communication of vital information impossible.

Unfortunately, when people talk about critical infrastructure they tend to forget that it requires proper functioning software and hardware. Accordingly, working toward more dependable and resilient public e-communication networks requires a careful assessment of software and hardware risk. Most importantly, the latter two must be managed properly.

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