The Internet Protocol Journal - Volume 3, No. 3

Book Reviews

Book Reviews
Multiwave Optical Networks

Multiwavelength Optical Networks: A Layered Approach, by Thomas E. Stern and Krishna Bala, ISBN 020130967X, Addison-Wesley, 1999.

Initial Impressions

This book attempts to fit into two camps; one, an overview of the potential choices that could be offered in wavelength-division multiplexing, or WDM, and the other, an academic text. Because of its scope, the treatment is uneven.

Organization

The first four chapters lay the groundwork. Chapter 1 starts by defining terms and positing why WDM is an enabling technology. The authors believe that the driving application will be LAN interconnection, ostensibly in metro areas. It is worthwhile noting that the authors make no claims about this text relating to an all-optical network. They simply expose the choices available to manipulate the various wavelengths, or lambda. The current methods for performing lambda manipulation are still bound in the electrical domain.

Chapter 2 covers the hierarchy or layering present in a WDM environment and some of the choices for configuration at each point in the hierarchy. The authors spend some time on the concepts of spectrum partitioning and what routing and switching in this domain means. A key point raised relates to the concept of wavelength conversion at network access points. The chapter closes with a brief review of some types of logical overlays that may sit on top of a WDM network. Three types are examined, ATM, Synchronous Optical Network (SONET), and IP networks.

The third chapter covers how network interconnection may occur and how the management and control features may be implemented. Four basic topologies are described, each with its salient features highlighted. These topologies include shared channel networks; wavelength routed networks, linear lightwave networks, and hybrid, logically routed networks. It is interesting to note that many commercial implementations, especially from traditional telecom providers, tend to follow the simpler topologies, while we are beginning to see newer telecom providers utilizing the more robust topologies.

Chapter 4 discusses what the authors consider enabling technology. To a large degree, these enabling technologies are the basic components of an optical system, for example, fibers, amplifiers, transmitters, and receivers. Crosstalk is mentioned in particular. The authors then delve into photonic device technologies and wavelength converters, and then they close with some simulation work on end-to-end transmission paths.

Chapters 5, 6, and 7 discuss in depth the ramifications of each of the four techniques. What is fairly intriguing here is that the authors have extensive bibliographies at the end of each chapter, and they include a series of problems that are left as an exercise to the reader.

The eighth chapter touches on the concepts involved with survivability and restoration of service. This chapter should help the practical network engineer in understanding most of the possible failure modes. In the last chapter, the authors look at current trends, and they try to predict business drivers for WDM deployment. Once again, they show their true colors as academics when they close with a statement on the importance of testbeds.

On to the Appendices! I am grateful to the authors for including some basic material on graph theory, scheduling algorithms, Markov chains and queuing, some work on minimal interference routing in the optical domain and, finally, close with a synopsis of the SONET standard.

Good Reference

Overall, there is a fair amount of practical material here, but it is tucked into large amounts of academic detail. I'm not sure this volume would work as a standalone textbook, but it clearly is a good reference for the state of optical networks in the last years of the 20th century.

Bill Manning,
University of Southern California
Information Sciences Institute
manning@isi.edu

Net Slaves

Net Slaves: True Tales of Working the Web, Bill Lessard and Steve Baldwin, ISBN 0-07-135243-0, McGraw-Hill, 2000.

How can you not want to read a book that opens with a quote from a Guns&Roses song, "Do you know where you are? You're in the jungle, baby!"? Net Slaves is about the people who maintain the jungle that big game hunters come to exploit. The same jungle marketed as the digital age and the e-generation. This is the land of the "dot-coms" and future big-buck IPOs. Has hubris masked your role in this jungle? Net Slaves will set you straight. Exactly who are these net slaves? Well, take the 15 question quiz provided by the authors and determine your Internet exploitation quotient. Don't be shocked to find yourself among the new media caste; the only question is, what part of the jungle are you assigned to clean after?

The authors spent a year interviewing people who work for Internet-based companies. Based on their findings, they created 11 character composites: Garbagemen; Cops or Streetwalkers; Social Workers; Cab Drivers; Cowboys or Card Sharks; Fry Cooks; Gold Diggers or Gigolos; Priests or Madmen; Robots; Robber Barons; and Mole People.

For each composite the authors cite someone's real-life work experience-of course, in order to protect the innocent (and the guilty), names have been altered.

I was annoyed with David Zorn, Card Shark; his type does nothing but give the industry a bad reputation. The story of Ken Hussein, Robot, both saddened and angered me. I truly hope he and his family are doing better. How can anyone not feel sorry for Kellner after being taken in by Gigolo Mira? Jane, Cab Driver, learned the hard way that you have to roll with the blows to survive in the jungle. Finally, I must confess, I found the most disturbing of all profiles to be of Outis, a Mole Person.

For each profile the authors provide some social-economic statistics. How old is the average Social Worker? How much does it cost to hire a Cowboy? What are the career aspirations of the average Cab Driver? How do you know if a Robot is annoyed with you? You're a Garbageman; what are your chances of upward mobility? A lot of this is funny, but to leave it at that would be missing the point entirely. Every composite represents scores of real people's lives, and how they live doesn't necessarily match up with the glamour often associated with the high-tech industry.

My favorite profile is of Jason Barstow, a Madman. Barstow arrives on the scene on his Harley, ready to participate in a two-day seminar put on by the Earth Business Network. A former chicken farmer and former guitar player, Barstow now finds himself lecturing to a room full of CEOs. He begins by telling them about the 5 milligrams of LSD he bought the previous night, and proceeds to plant seeds of anxiety did he spike their morning juice? As Barstow delivers his lecture on the future of e-commerce and builds to the climax, a frustrated Slim Clarkston of NetScathe blurts out, "Mr. Barstow, I want you to tell us the truth about your little prank." With the lecture over, Barstow returns his pass to the security desk. "How did it go?" asks the security guard. "Same bull," Barstow responds, "but they never seem to get tired of it."

Are these stories true? I don't know-it doesn't matter! What are true are the composites. This book is funny. It is also humbling. Most important, it is true. It was fun to read. After each chapter, I found myself wearing an undeniable mischievous grin as I scanned the office looking for the person I just read about; this is all in good fun as long as I remember one important thing: I'm in the book and you are too. In my experiences, I've found that a certain animosity always exists between people who work call centers, programmers, Web designers, managers, and the like. Net Slaves reminds us that we are all in this jungle together.

Neophytos Iacovou, eBenX Inc
diacovou@ebenx.com

Implementing IPSec

Implementing IPSec: Making Security work on VPNs, Internets, and Extranets, Elizabeth Kaufman and Andrew Newman, ISBN 0-471-34467-2 Wiley Computers Publishing, 1999.

Organization

The book is organized into four parts. The first three chapters of Part One should be nothing more than review for anyone who has been in networking for even a short time. Chapter 4, "Encrypting within the Law," analyzes current worldwide regulatory trends for encryption technologies and examines how existing laws will impact your ability to legally purchase and install IPSec products. Included is some good information that may help keep you on the right side of the laws pertaining to encryption. Encryption is an area of potential problems, especially when you are running your network between countries.

Part Two is a primer on the basic technological components of IPSec. Chapter 5, "A Functional Overview of IPv4," and its basic design characteristics should be old news to anyone who is seriously thinking of running any type of encryption on his/her network. Chapter Six is an overview of cryptographic technologies. Chapter 7 "The Basics of IPSec and Public Key Infrastructures (PKIs) Fundamental to Current IPSec Standards," has some good information pertaining to IPSec and its different components, but leaves out an explanation of its two basic modes of operation: transport and tunnel.

Part Three analyzes how and why the IPSec protocols can break existing IP networks, and should provide the reader with some good information. Chapter 8, "What Won't Work with IPSec," describes the root cause of IPsec performance problems and protocol conflicts. Chapter 9, "IPSec and PKI Rollout Considerations," discusses gateway-to-gateway, end host-to-gateway, and end host-to-end host configuration options and explains some of the policy elements of PKI.

Part Four provides some criteria for evaluating vendors and products; this information would be of little interest if you are unfamiliar with writing an RFI. Also included is some reference material, including an appendix, with a complete copy of the IPSec RFC (2401), "Security Architecture for the Internet Protocol." A glossary, which does not offer a description of IPSec, is included as well.

Who Should Read This Book

By trying to appeal to the technical as well as the nontechnical reader, the book has missed both. There are areas that will appeal to the reader with a limited networking background, as well as areas for the more technical. However, if you are the type of reader inclined to read the RFCs, you will find very little reason to read the remainder of the book. Overall the book does not provide enough information for any one group. Inclusion of RFC 2401 seems unnecessary considering how easily RFCs can be obtained from the Internet.

Al Pruitt, CSG Systems, Inc
al_pruitt@csgsystems.com