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AFRIK-IT  April 1998

AFRIK-IT April 1998

Subject:

(Fwd) Re: Issue: Is Internet Y2k safe?

From:

"Watermeyer, Henry" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Mon, 20 Apr 1998 10:38:38 +200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (157 lines)

Good morning all

The attached e-mail is part of a set of correspondence on a list of
which I am a memeber.

It raises a number of concerns of which I think we in SA and Africa
generally need to be aware.

Eric Huizer has done a lot of work on the question of the Internet
and the year 2000 and his opinions are to be valued.

It is largely on the work done by him and his working group that has
lead me to recomend to this University that "The Internet and IntrAnet
service that we use may be unreliable but will not die. The
University MUST NOT be dependant on these technoligies  for any
critical activelty over the year end and for the next few months."

The major reason is that equipment in the installed world may not
have been built to the latest standards even though these existed and
some problems will enevitably need to be iron out over time
particularly with older equipment.

Equally a large number of people have been involved in the writing of
the various bits of code and those of us who been involved with
program development over the years all know how difficult it is to
get programmers past the "it works doesnt it" phase to "it meets the
full specification including the bits that aren't needed yet".

Cheers

Henry Watermeyer

Wits University.

"Panic now, its too late to plan".


------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Sun, 19 Apr 1998 13:04:47 +0200
Reply-to:      Erik Huizer <[log in to unmask]>
From:          Erik Huizer <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:       Re: Issue: Is Internet Y2k safe?
To:            [log in to unmask]

Let me try to respond to this. FYI I am chair of the IETF Working
Group on the y2k issue. This WG is analysing all IETF developed (and
standardized) protocols. The results so far can be read in the most
current Internet-draft we published: draft-ietf-2000-issue-02.txt

(For info on Internet-drafts see http://www.ietf.org/)

Now the issues that John Smith brings up: is the INternet going to
survive y2k?

Let's separate out the several layers that John referred to:
0- the protocols as defined in Internet standards.
1- the underlying infrastructure as provided by cable, electrical and telephone
companies.
2- The Internet Infrastructure, by which I mean the fully connected
infrastructure of routers as they are "pingeable" from e.g. Mae-East.
3- The connected servers that deliver the applications and the content
to the Internet
4- The connected clients.

ad 0)
See our internet draft. We are in pretty good shape there. Some older
specs have two digit datefields, but these have long since been
corrected (e.g. in host requirements RFC 1123). I expect no troubles
in that respect. FYI: Routing protocols contain no absolute timers
whatsoever.

ad 1) This is the one I feel least qualified to address. The Dutch
infrastructure operators all claim that there will be no problems. And
I imagine that if there are problems, they would be so significant
that the availability of the Internet is probably not the first
priority. Just because that is so, I think these operators know what
they are facing if they don't fix their "black boxes" in time.

ad 2) It is true that several routers run on hosts rather than on
dedicated routers and that these hosts may be affected by the y2k
problem. However all major backbone providers and all quality regional
and national providers only use routers from well established vendors.
The4se routers (most of them Cisco) may have an absolute date in there
for several reasons:
- date-stamping log-files
- serving NTP
- as a timer that shuts of connectivity outside office hours

The date-stamp is annoying but wont hurt the working of the Internet.
The NTP likewise. The last one is more serious but will only be
delployed in end-user-organization routers and not on
backbone/infrastructure routers.

In my view the infrastructure is pretty much OK. BT adn I guess
several other major backbone and regional providers already took our
routers build a test-net and set it to 31 dec 1999. No major problems
were encountered.

ad 3) The servers. Yes a lot of OS are still not fully y2k compliant
(witness Bill G's recent increase in personell on this issue). I am
still not too worried however. The major dserver operators are aware
of the issue and will perform testes with thier equipment to see if it
is y2k proof. We did it already with Win NT HTTP-servers and found no
problems, we do have to test the Unix systems, but as Unix uses a
different way of dealing with the absolute date/time we are safe
(until ca. 2038, then the Unix timer runs out, but I'll be retired by
then, so I don't care).

All in all the major server providers who earn their money with their
servers will make sure they are up and running 1-1-2000.

ad 4) Now this is in my view the most worrisome. The end-user will not
be as aware of the problem and the way it may hit her/hime as are
organizations delivering Internet-services. The end-suser system may
well contain an older BIOS that is not y2k compliant. Hence the
end-user will not be able to get acces too the Internet and conclude
that the Internet is no longer there after 31-12-1999.

I am not sure how that will solve itself. I am sure that helpdesks
all over the world will probably suffer.


To summarise. Will the Internet die after 1-1-2000, no it won't. The
demise of the Internet has been predicted by several well known
technical, political, economical and legal people. So far they have
been proven to be wrong. The mere fact that the Internet is not based
on one central organization managing it, nor is it based on one type
of hardware or software, makes that parts may suffer, but the whole
will continue to live. And parts heal easily.

Erik Huizer
Chairman y2k wg

p.s.1 Apart from what is expressed in draft-ietf-2000-issue-02.txt the rest
is my own opinion and not necessarily that of the IETF 2000 WG.

p.s.2 I personally think that so far more effort has been put into
proclaiming how bad the y2k effort is and how much money is needed to
solve it, than that effort has been put into really tackling the
problems that are out there. Thus predictions as to the amount of
money that this problem will cost the society are self-fullfilling.
---------------------------------------------------------------------

      CITTE 98 at url http://www.unisa.ac.za/events/citte98/

=====================================================================
Subscribe to the IT Digest, an information resource from Wits Univ.
Send e-Mail to [log in to unmask]  with SUBSCRIBE ITDIGEST
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----------------------------------------------------------------------
Henry C Watermeyer                         'Phone +27-11-716-3260/8000
Director - Computer 7 Network services     Fax    +27-11-339-1225
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
P/Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa           mobile +27-(0)82-800-8862
//SunSITE.Wits.ac.za      //WWW.Wits.ac.za
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