The Twelve Networking Truths

It started as an April Fool’s joke in 1996 when Ross Callon drafted RFC 1925 “The Twelve Networking Truths.” The purpose of this RFC was to “provide information about the fundamental truths underlying all networks.” Though this started as a joke, it has some real nuggets of wisdom that apply as much today as when it was originally written. I’m also posting this as a video blog over the coming weeks where I will also be going into a few of these truths in more depth as they apply to our overall industry. (My first detailed video blog post will be related to truth No. 5.) As a reference, I’ve posted the 12 networking truths below. They can also be found here: (http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc1925).

The Fundamental Truths

(1) It has to work.

(2) No matter how hard you push and no matter what the priority, you can’t increase the speed of light.

(2a) (corollary). No matter how hard you try, you can’t make a baby in much less than 9 months. Trying to speed this up *might* make it slower, but it won’t make it happen any quicker.

(3) With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine. However, this is not necessarily a good idea. It is hard to be sure where they are going to land, and it could be dangerous sitting under them as they fly overhead.

(4) Some things in life can never be fully appreciated nor understood unless experienced firsthand. Some things in networking can never be fully understood by someone who neither builds commercial networking equipment nor runs an operational network.

(5) It is always possible to aglutenate multiple separate problems into a single complex interdependent solution. In most cases
this is a bad idea.

(6) It is easier to move a problem around (for example, by moving the problem to a different part of the overall network architecture) than it is to solve it.

(6a) (corollary). It is always possible to add another level of indirection.

(7) It is always something.

(7a) (corollary). Good, Fast, Cheap: Pick any two (you can’t
have all three).

(8) It is more complicated than you think.

(9) For all resources, whatever it is, you need more.

(9a) (corollary) Every networking problem always takes longer to
solve than it seems like it should.

(10) One size never fits all.

(11) Every old idea will be proposed again with a different name and a different presentation, regardless of whether it works.

(11a) (corollary). See rule 6a.

(12) In protocol design, perfection has been reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take
away.

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