Douglas Comer on the Future of Networking

Jim Small asked me what I thought about the Future of Networking Packet Pushers podcast with Douglas Comer. I decided to listen to it while driving toward one of my recent hikes, and it was a great decision– it was the best Packet Pushers podcast I listened to in a long while.

Not only is professor Comer a legend, he’s also a great teacher. It was amazing how he politely stopped Greg whenever Greg wanted to start one of his usual arguments or started saddling the unicorn, and patiently explained the facts and the reasons behind the current way of doing things.

Finally, they simply had to touch on failed QoS attempts and the current state of SDN. Priceless.

Long story short: You (RFC 2119) MUST listen to this show!


  1. This was a great show!
  2. What would be even more awesome if you could chat with him on Software Gone Wild!!!
  3. Agreed with George, a conversation between you and professor comer would be great.
  4. Really good podcast, but it got me worked up a bit.

    -Adding bandwidth
    -Effective QoS mechanisms

    These two things are not mutually exclusive. We should be pursuing both. Throw as much bandwidth in to your network as you can, then call me. I'll bring some colleagues and we will saturate your network; and when we do you'll wish you had some policies in place to drop our traffic and preserve other traffic; especially if you're transporting data related to maintaining human life. Mr. Ferro seems to argue that because we can download Netflix movies without issue, we can abandon technologies like QoS and multicast. There's a lot at stake running on top of IP today; like it or not. With all due respect, I think some from the founding generation of the Internet overlook this because they remember when packet based comms was just a cool thing to have; like a radio in 1950...well today radio frequencies are used for life-critical systems and jamming is illegal.
  5. Ivan, van Jacobson and Douglas Comer should be on a podcast all together for like 1000 hours! ...on pay-per-view :)
  6. What is interesting: I just looked into latest Comer books and have NOTfound any of those insights Mr Comer has shared with us.
    For example the latest "TCP/IP" books contains pure information without interesting comments on QoS (not solvable w/o having really enough bandwidth), SDN(good for researchers at this stage of development), LISP (who wants to have access to a device when the cloud is a "rendezvous point", Role of aggregation when it comes to Internet of Things, etc.

    I think we needs those insights because we, Comer books readers, believe that all presented technologies in the books are equally good;) At least when starting the career...
    1. Well, I'm not someone who could comment on this (and I haven't read his latest books), but many technical book authors prefer to stick to facts and not express opinions, regardless of how valid they might be.
    2. That's why I appreciate your blog to learn about real experience with the technology, not only pure 'facts' (that actually might not be good solutions in real life). If the book is only pure technology description it promotes any technology - we do not know if the technology scales well for example without trying it ourselves or read other blogs/comments.

      In my opinion the book should contain insights, especially if the author is famous thinker to influence what we are designing / buying.
  7. Another comment:
    Not sure if always researchers should look into the technology so deeply as Mr Comer says when he talked about SDN. Even RIP (seems to be less complex stuff) lacked of split-horizon at first and needed this hack later - so in this case researchers failed. Maybe is a good idea to release 'SDN' later to test it in real life environments
    1. I meant to release it without deep researcher thinking because even split-horizon was not anticipated by researchers...
  8. After re-listening htis podcast for a few times I can't emphasize enough how the views explained by Douglas have a profound impact on how I view SDN at this time. Not to discredit Mr. Ferro, but I think a similar conversation with Ivan and Douglas would offer even more insight. ;-)
  9. "It was amazing how he politely stopped Greg"

    LOL, yeah this guy sure doesn't know when to shut up and listen!
  10. I think that Greg style (I would say a little bit provoking) made the discussion more interesting, or in other words, less serious.
    I appreciate his effort to make this podcast happen. So he deserves the right to lead the discussion his way. I would love to hear another famous thinker!
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