RE: Network Reliability Engineering

While it is possible to get the FIT numbers for hardware and calculate
network availability, our experience has been that modelling hardware
reliability and calculating network availability was not particularly
usefull as hardware and fiber transmission systems are usually the least
signifigant factor in overall network availability. Hardware failures are
also easy to design around by redundant hardware, or more boxes, or diverse
fiber routes.

Network software issues and Operational mistakes seem to affect Network
Availability more than hardware.

An example would be a bug in a routing protocol that causes an erroneous
update to propagate through the network. Or in the operational category, a
typo which causes unintended results.

In both cases these failures are not limited to one box, but often cause
problems or their effects to propagate throughout the entire network.

How do you objectively calculate the network availability when the network
is highly dependant upon the correct functioning of a binary blob of
proprietary code, but your only visability inside the blob is a release note
listing the symptoms experienced by others who have run the code in a
similar, but probably not identical network configuration?

It seems unlikely that vendors are going to disclose more about their
proprietary blob of binary to protect their I.P. assets. This leaves teh
netwrok operator without much to assess code reliability.

Perhaps we need to change the business model around network code licensing
to ensure vendors comprehend the impact of a bad release, and share the pain
when they release a buggy blob that has customer impact on the network.

Rather than a one-time fee to license the code when you buy the box, a small
recurring monthly license fee, with no payment in any month that a software
bug crashes your network, would act as a continuous form of positive
reinforcement for your box vendor to ensure your network has high
availability code.

The box vendor would have a recurring revenue stream for software licensing
that is only as stable and reliable as their software.