Reports state that that the internet is running out of space – but is this really a problem, and do we have to worry about it?
Reports this week have claimed that the internet is in danger of becoming “full” because the number of internet connections rose above a crucial limit. A small number of sites could have been taken momentarily offline by the issue with the infrastructure supporting parts of the internet.
The issue revolved around a limit on the number of concurrent connections made to routers that underpin the internet. These operate in a similar manner to home routers spreading data about the global internet, rather than simply within a single address.
“Old hardware that is at least five years past its end-of-life sulked, because it ran out of memory,” explained James Blessing, chair of the Internet Service Providers Association, which has close to 300 members across the UK.
‘The address book filled up’
“The problem revolved around TCAM memory – which is like an address book – getting full,” Blessing told the Guardian. “The default settings have 512,000 entry spaces. It reached 512,000 entries last week when an internet service provider (ISP) had a problem and leaked some address space, which caused some older boxes at other ISPs to fail.”
ISPs have known about this issue for a while. Cisco, which manufactures a large chunk of the hardware used by ISPs, put out a notice about the issue in May, but some ISPs have been slow to fix the problem.
“There is a fix for the issue – you can simply change some values on the boxes and then restart the entire machine,” said Blessing. “Unfortunately these boxes have hundreds of customers attached to them so getting permission from them all to do that is a pain.”
That has caused some ISPs to put off the reboot, which would momentarily take websites connected to the box offline, until it caused a brief issue last week.
Phi Beta Iota: CISCO bears some of the responsibility — it has refused to go green on routers or migrate toward enabling mesh networks with individual routers easily updated via online check-in. The larger culprits are the Internet Service Providers (ISP) who refuse to invest in their own fiber and do a second-rate job of passing on their share of dark fiber at inflated rates; and government, less that of The Netherlands, that simply do not take Open Spectrum and “speed and feeds” seriously. Those that speak of “Smart Cities” are disconnected from design fundamentals, functional requirements analytics, integrated system of systems analytics, and of course true cost including opportunity cost of keeping the Internet in the 1970’s. There is an opportunity here for the BRICS, with their planned alternative Internet, to get it right and go for the whole enchilada. They can start by studying The Netherlands.