Saturday, September 13, 2014

It's amazing that the Internet ever works!

It's amazing that the Internet ever works!  Practically every network engineer who has worked with BGP (the routing protocol used by the Internet “backbone” has the same reaction I did when it first dawned on me just how vulnerable it was.  BGP is utterly dependent on being correctly configured – by humans! – by every participating router.  This is a recipe for problems, and so it has proved.  I've been involved in BGP administration at three different jobs, and each time some of our worst outages were traced back to BGP configuration errors – usually by our ISP, sometimes by us.

This is a situation that is ripe for improvement.  Several teams are working on such improvements, and quite a few have tried in the past.  Switching to some other routing method will be tough, though – BGP is as embedded in the Internet as driving on the right is on American roads.  But that vulnerability to human error is less acceptable every day...

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