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Internet Problems

There are a number of problems with the Internet. Solutions to the problems range from software changes to long term research projects. Some of the major ones are detailed below:

Number of Networks
When the Internet was designed it was to have about 50 connected networks. With the explosion of networking, the number is now approaching 300. The software in a group of critical gateways (called the core gateways of the ARPAnet) are not able to pass or store much more than that number. In the short term, core reallocation and recoding has raised the number slightly. By the summer of '88 the current PDP-11 core gateways will be replaced with BBN Butterfly gateways which will solve the problem.

Routing Issues
Along with sheer mass of the data necessary to route packets to a large number of networks, there are many problems with the updating, stability, and optimality of the routing algorithms. Much research is being done in the area, but the optimal solution to these routing problems is still years away. In most cases the the routing we have today works, but sub-optimally and sometimes unpredictably.

Trust Issues
Gateways exchange network routing information. Currently, most gateways accept on faith that the information provided about the state of the network is correct. In the past this was not a big problem since most of the gateways belonged to a single administrative entity (DARPA). Now with multiple wide area networks under different administrations, a rogue gateway somewhere in the net could cripple the Internet. There is design work going on to solve both the problem of a gateway doing unreasonable things and providing enough information to reasonably route data between multiply connected networks (multi-homed networks).

Capacity & Congestion
Many portions of the ARPAnet are very congested during the busy part of the day. Additional links are planned to alleviate this congestion, but the implementation will take a few months.

These problems and the future direction of the Internet are determined by the Internet Architect (Dave Clark of MIT) being advised by the Internet Activities Board (IAB). This board is composed of chairmen of a number of committees with responsibility for various specialized areas of the Internet. The committees composing the IAB and their chairmen are:

         Committee                            Chair
      Autonomous Networks                  Deborah Estrin
      End-to-End Services                  Bob Braden
      Internet Architecture                Dave Mills
      Internet Engineering                 Phil Gross
         EGP2                              Mike Petry
         Name Domain Planning              Doug Kingston
         Gateway Monitoring                Craig Partridge
         Internic                          Jake Feinler
         Performance & Congestion Control  Robert Stine
         NSF Routing                       Chuck Hedrick
         Misc. MilSup Issues               Mike St. Johns
      Privacy                              Steve Kent
      IRINET Requirements                  Vint Cerf
      Robustness & Survivability           Jim Mathis
      Scientific Requirements              Barry Leiner

Note that under Internet Engineering, there are a set of task forces and chairs to look at short term concerns. The chairs of these task forces are not part of the IAB.

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