[vcf-midatlantic] vcf-midatlantic Digest, Vol 20, Issue 29

Dave McGuire mcguire at neurotica.com
Fri Jun 30 00:53:10 EDT 2017

  My team terminated thousands of T1s, many dozens of T3s in a
national-level ISP environment.  Neither end ran anything other than
Cisco, Wellfleet ("WontFloat"), Compatible Systems, or Livingston that I
can recall.  Our end was all Cisco, because we knew we could depend on
it, and we had an on-site Cisco engineer with source code to get us
through the rough spots. (and the prerelease software, and the
not-quite-out-of-beta interfaces..)

  Oh yes, there were the FRADs for those annoying frame relay circuits,
but they don't count. ;)  We saw eight or ten different makers of those.

  That said, I've little doubt that you've been there and done that, and
are more experienced than the average bear.  I believe the root of our
disagreement is that I'm primarily talking about Joe-random-dude tossing
joe-random-WAN-interface into a PeeCee, calling it a router, and setting
up his corporation to depend on it, versus the "I have a large
production network to run, with very expensive SLA liabilities, and am
not going to experiment with this" situation.  That seems quite a bit
different from what you're talking about.  The 6611 is similar to those
Nokia boxes and some of the others in one important regard, IMO:  They
were very tightly configuration-controlled; if you wanted some specific
WAN interface, you called IBM and they sold you one that had an IBM part
number on it and was qualified for the 6611.  Any compatibility issues
had been resolved long before the customer ever saw the card, modulo any
uncaught bugs of course.

  We were all hackers (in the old sense of the word) and did lots of
experimenting and had lots of fun...just not on the production network.
Hell, I had a MicroVAX there, connected to the non-production FDDI ring.
 The network interface was faster than the bus it was plugged into.

  We had some of those 6611s very early-on; provided and managed by ANS
for our NSFnet backbone access.  That was my first exposure to AIX.
Neat setup.

  I did smile when you mentioned the Nokia boxes, by the way.  I ran a
few of those at a colo facility (as an network engineer, not a tenant),
one of the CPCI versions.  I didn't buy it; I inherited it when I took
over that network.  Aside from its somewhat ass-tastic user interface, I
grew to rather like them.  I don't think I've ever run across anyone
else who used them.

  Maybe the IBM 6611 makes this "on topic", being a rebadged
first-generation RS/6000. B-)


 06/30/2017 12:06 AM, Kenneth Seefried via vcf-midatlantic wrote:
> From: Dave McGuire <mcguire at neurotica.com>
>>  I didn't say it was impossible, I said it was pretty tough to do.
> And I said it wasn't.  It wasn't in the old days if you knew what you
> were doing and it definitely isn't now in the 95% of everything is
> Ethernet/IP world.
>> We've all seen those interfaces, and those of us (myself included) who
>> have used them have run up against the same old problem of driver
>> availability, OS version dependencies, etc etc.
> Some of us were and are capable of dealing with those issue and routinely do.
>>  In fact the first widely-deployed router that was capable of routing
>> IP on a T3 at wire speed while handling BGP was an IBM RS/6000 7012-320
>> with a synchronous serial card in it, bundled by IBM as the 6611 Network
>> Processor.
> I'm quite familiar with the 6611. Awful things to build large networks
> with (I did) unless you really, really needed SNA/APPN weirdness that
> it took Cisco a while to figure out (I, regrettably, did).  But, yes,
> commodity hardware.  Lot's of IBM network network gear is "IBM
> [RT,PC,PS/2,Power] + ARTIC card" under the cover.
> That said, I believe a properly configured Wellfleet BLN could handle
> T3 routing + BGP before the 6611 (in 1991?).  The Wellfleet BCN
> certainly could, but I think production BCNs were delayed till after
> the 6611 shipped.  I was building out a worldwide Wellfleet-based
> network at the time (1100 routers?), but some of the details have
> faded.  Wellfleet had the worst user interface ever conceived
> (SiteManager aka SiteMangler), but we deployed tons, including some
> interesting FDDI->FDDI routing scenarios (so the bandwidth was there).
> Let's not stroll into the minefield that was Wellfleets OSPF
> implementation....
> Those were heady days.
>> But this is not the norm by any stretch.
> Perhaps not the norm by Cisco sales numbers, but that's kinda like
> saying *BSD doesn't exist because Microsoft.
> - IBM sold a lot of 6611s.  For a long time.
> - Internet IMPs were Honeywell DDP-516s - we've been doing routing on
> commodity hardware for a long time.
> - Nokia sold tens of millions of bog-standard rackmount ATX PCs (later
> CPCI) running FreeBSD (relabled IPSO) as firewall/routers with
> optional V.35/X.21, HSSI, ATM & FDDI interfaces.  I still use a
> Nokia/Sagnoma sync serial card from an IP440 in my lab.
> - Most of the earlier Juniper line are repackaged PCs running FreeBSD
> (nee JunOS).
> - SnapRoute is a Linux-based routing platform that AT&T has vetted for
> 5G network routing on commodity hardware
> (http://about.att.com/story/white_box_collaboration.html).
> - etc., etc., etc.
> And that ignores the whole Software Defined Network (SDN) trend which
> is predominately OSS+White Box Hardware.  Little guys like Google,
> Amazon & Facebook are betting on that.
>> The fact that it can be done, and was very occasionally done, isn't really the point.
> Sure, when 'the point' becomes cherry-picking whatever allows you
> think declare yourself 'right'.  Par for the course, as they say.

Dave McGuire, AK4HZ
New Kensington, PA

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