Who would think that the words “... we reject Verizon’s challenge to the Open Internet Order’s disclosure rules, we vacate both the anti-discrimination and the anti-blocking rules. We remand the case to the Commission for further proceedings ...” could set off a firestorm of public debate? All it really says is that broadband service providers must inform their customers if and when they block or hinder the passage of lawful information across their broadband connection.
The clear message the US Court of Appeals is sending to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is to regulate appropriately. The Appeals Court actually affirmed the appropriateness of the FCC's role in ensuring fair access to the internet. The issue is that the FCC declared their authority based on broadband access being a "common carrier" service even though they had declared it to be a competitive service in earlier actions. So the issue the court dealt with is jurisdictional discretion, not outright authority or correctness of "net neutrality."
Consumer activist champions are chomping at the bit to call this a free license for broadband operators to block or throttle competing services - the truth of the matter is that most broadband service providers have already committed to abide by the existing set of rules (or as Captain Jack Sparrow would say "guidelines") with Comcast in particular committing to abide by the guidelines as part of the approval of their acquisition of NBC. Consumers are protected not by the FCC mandating network architectures and operations, but by the disclosure or transparency requirement -- which was upheld. If providers block, they must disclose.
Boring as it may appear, the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), which just took place in Dubai under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), matters to all Internet users globally. To us, the three most important questions that were discussed are:
Should national governments have greater influence over the global regulation of the Internet?
Should over-the-top providers (OTTs) like Google and business networks be governed by international telecom regulations?
Should the underlying business model of the Internet change from a free and neutral exchange of data to a “sender pays” model?
This week, the New York Times ran a series of articles about data center power use (and abuse) “Power, Pollution and the Internet” (http://nyti.ms/Ojd9BV) and “Data Barns in a Farm Town, Gobbling Power and Flexing Muscle” (http://nyti.ms/RQDb0a). Among the claims made in the articles were that data centers were “only using 6 to 12 % of the energy powering their servers to deliver useful computation. Like a lot of media broadsides, the reality is more complex than the dramatic claims made in these articles. Technically they are correct in claiming that of the electricity going to a server, only a very small fraction is used to perform useful work, but this dramatic claim is not a fair representation of the overall efficiency picture. The Times analysis fails to take into consideration that not all of the power in the data center goes to servers, so the claim of 6% efficiency of the servers is not representative of the real operational efficiency of the complete data center.
On the other hand, while I think the Times chooses drama over even-keeled reporting, the actual picture for even a well-run data center is not as good as its proponents would claim. Consider:
A new data center with a PUE of 1.2 (very efficient), with 83% of the power going to IT workloads.
Then assume that 60% of the remaining power goes to servers (storage and network get the rest), for a net of almost 50% of the power going into servers. If the servers are running at an average utilization of 10%, then only 10% of 50%, or 5% of the power is actually going to real IT processing. Of course, the real "IT number" is the server + plus storage + network, so depending on how you account for them, the IT usage could be as high as 38% (.83*.4 + .05).
A few months ago I shared a flight with a very pleasant lady from a European regulatory body. After shoulder surfing her papers and seeing we were both interested in information security (ironic paradox acknowledged!) we had a long chat about how enterprises could stand a chance against the hacktivist and criminal hordes so intent on stealing their data.
My flight-buddy felt that the future lay in open and honest sharing between organisations – i.e. when one is hacked they would immediately share details of both the breach and the method with their peers and wider industry; this would allow the group to look for similar exploits and prepare to deflect similar attacks. Being somewhat cynical, and having worked in industry, I felt that such a concept was idealised and that organisations would refuse to share such information for fear of reputational or brand damage – she acknowledged that it was proving tougher than she had expected to get her organisations to join in with this voluntary disclosure!
Across the US and Europe we are seeing a move toward ‘mandatory’breach disclosure; however they have seemingly disparate intentions. US requirements focus on breaches that may impact an organisations financial condition or integrity, whilst EU breach notification is very focussed on cases where there may have been an exposure of personal data. Neither of these seem to be pushing us toward this nirvana of ‘collaborative protection’.
In the UK, I’m aware that the certain organizations, within specific sectors, will share information within their small closed communities, unfortunately this is not widespread and certainly does not reflect the concept of ‘open and honest’ as my flight-buddy would have envisaged.