The following text is copyright 1998 by Network World, permission is hearby given for reproduction, as long as attribution is given and this notice is included.
Not just for ISPs
By Scott Bradner
I'll admit upfront that I'm biased on this topic. The first book from
the new Wiley Publishing Networking Council series has just come
out. I'm biased in four ways: I, along with Vint Cerf, Lyman Chapin
and Ed Kozel, make up the council; the author, Geoff Huston, is a
friend of mine; I recruited him to write the book; and if you go buy a
copy, I get some pittance.
The book is called ISP Survival Guide: Strategies for Running a
Competitive ISP (ISBN 0-471-31499-4) and is targeted at the
technical and management people working at ISPs. Geoff covers
every facet of design, operation and management of ISPs. His
insights come from managing such a company for about 10 years and
from teaching hundreds of students from around the world in the
annual Internet Society Developing Countries Workshop.
The more I dealt with some of the ISPs currently in business, the
more an overarching book of this type seemed like a good idea. Some
wag once noted that there were only a few hundred people in the
world who could actually run the technical side of an ISP, but
unfortunately, there are more than 7,000 ISPs. All too often, I've had
to try to deal with some of the other ISPs, the ones without an
adequate clue. This book should help close the gap.
It is a testament to the design and implementation of the Internet
transport and routing protocols that this motley collection of
independently owned and operated networks we call the Internet
seems to work most of the time. Not all the time, but most of the
time. The IETF and other groups proposing new technologies for use
in the Internet should keep the uneven clue distribution in mind when
they design new protocols.
But even with the best and most robust technology designs, some of
the technology, and particularly the business climate, can be quite a
challenge to understand.
Geoff's book can be quite helpful in these areas.
In spite of all of the above, the subtitle of the book might not be right
because the subtitle focuses on the business of running a competitive
ISP. Just looking at the technology used and the management skills required, it can be hard to distinguish many corporate networks from ISPs. In this case, ISP could mean Internet service provider or intranet service provider. Even with this being the case, relatively few intranet service providers have to compete with another intranet service provider within the same company to see which one can make the most money.
In spite (I hope) of my biases, I think this is a good book and will prove quite useful to all sorts of people at both Internet and intranet service providers. Anyway, my wallet hopes the book will prove to be as good in the eyes of others as in mine.
Disclaimer: This column is mostly disclaimer and Harvard had nothing to do with it.