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CIT 361: Week 15
Semester Wrap Up

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Probably the single biggest issue most network managers have to deal with is change. As we have seen new protocols and capabilities are constantly being developed yet the old stuff is still clinging to our systems and somehow both need to be accommodated on the same network. We have seen this with IPv4 and IPv6 on the Internet as well as WINS and DNS on a local area networks. Even something as fundamental as DNS does not stand still, recently I saw an article about Google's new Public DNS alternative and earlier in the semester I noted the ICANN expansion to allow corporate TLDs. (Please note, not everyone sees Google's DNS as a positive development.) Google claims their new service will speed Internet access and reduce bandwidth requirements. However, as we saw with VoIP especially those that include video capabilities, most new developments require ever greater bandwidth and someone must pay for it.

The knee jerk reaction most network managers have is to restrict new services because they know the infrastructure cannot support the load adequately. Often they claim the new services are a security risk and sometimes this is true especially for immature services that have not been thoroughly vetted. When Instant Messaging became the hot, new Internet capability many years ago, it was considered an employee time waster, a security risk, and a fad that would soon fade. Now many companies use IM to help with tech support, answer sales questions for customers shopping online, and consider it a main stream form of communications. We have seen similar evolutions in attitude toward wikis, cellphone network connectivity, personal video conferencing, and just about every other new Internet development. Admittedly many new developments do not make it, for example IPv5 and the companies that tried Internet delivery services like Peapod (which still exists), Webvan, and Kozom (which do not). It took Amazon about 10 years to make a profit and neither Skype nor You-Tube have yet made money. Considering the costs, problems, and uncertainties it is no wonder most network managers tend to become conservative, skeptical, foot draggers when told about the next hot new thing on the web. Network managers have the almost impossible job of out-guessing the future and investing in the right technologies at the right time to keep their company on the leading edge without being sliced and diced on the bleeding edge while maintaining existing services usually with smaller budgets and fewer workers.

One way to deal with these issues is to use network traffic shaping to give critical packets priority while still allowing the adventurous employee to experiment with the new, hot thing. One key is to have a well thought out Internet use policy that discourages obvious bad behavior like Internet gambling on company time while allowing experimentation with new services to find out what might prove useful. Another useful tool is a good proxy server that can block access to gaming, gambling, and porn while still allowing access to new developments that have not yet proven themselves one way or the other.

My track record at guessing which new developments will succeed is very dismal so I will not even try. However, I encourage each of you to investigate ways in which some new service you have heard about might be useful or might be a dud. Do a little research on your ideas, read the articles linked in this commentary then post your comments, ideas, and questions concerning managing network changes in the current discussion. Remember, next week we will have the final exam covering chapters 8-13 as well as the two handout lessons, however it will close on Thursday, December 17th, so I can report your grades to the registrar on time. I will try but cannot guarantee to have it ready for you to take over the weekend before.