While we’re happily arguing the merits of reinvented architectures, we keep forgetting that the basics of sound network architecture were known for decades… and we still haven’t made much progress getting closer to them. As Edsger W. Dijkstra said a long time ago: “complexity sells better”

Still Waiting for the Stupid Network

In 1998, the cover story of ACM netWorker magazine discussed the dawn of the stupid network – an architecture with smart edge nodes and simple packet forwarding code. Obviously we learned nothing in all those years – we’re still having the same discussions.

Here are a few juicy quotes from that article (taken completely out of context solely for your enjoyment).

The telcos seemed to "fall asleep at the switch" at the core of their network.

"Keep it simple, stupid," or KISS, is an engineering virtue. The Intelligent Network, however, is anything but simple; it is a marketing concept for scarce, complicated, high-priced services.

The Intelligent Network impedes innovation. Existing features are integrally spaghetti-coded into the guts of the network, and new features must intertwine with the old.

Infrastructure improvements are rapidly making the telcos' Intelligent Network a distinctly second-rate choice. The bottom line, though, is not the infrastructure; it is the innovation that the Stupid Network unleashes.

The whole article is well worth reading, more so considering it’s decades old and still spot-on.

Revision History

Updated the age of the quoted article (the original blog post was written in 2013)

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  1. Can't believe it's been 15 years. That thesis was the reason I left the voice telecom world back in the late 90s working on Ericsson AXE switches and got my CCNA and started working in data networking.
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