NOC communications (was Re: Process management)

John Todd jtodd at
Mon Jul 13 15:23:08 UTC 1998

At 02:39 AM 7/13/98 -0500, Sean Donelan wrote:
>As some anecdotal evidence I've found our WHOIS e-mail contact information
>tends to get spammed by the small time bulk mailers, usually whose own
>contact information is bogus.  While our phone information tends to get
>junk calls by large corporations, usually one particular major ISP's
>telemarketing operation trying to sell Internet service.

Having a different number/email address on your AS than what's on your
domain name might solve some of these problems- it might not.  Being much
more aggressive and outwardly unfriendly to people who call the number on
your AS records becomes realistic if you have distinctly declared it for
NOC communications only.   A brief note to your counterpart at the
offending organization  (in your major ISP example) might be enough to
clear things up, or perhaps an ARIN "page of shame" in some public place
would do the trick.  (ha!  Try running that one up the flagpole in front of
ARIN's lawyers.)

>Handling such calls through the general purpose number can work well,
>IF and I repeat IF, the staff at the general purpose number is trained
>how to handle the calls and direct the information expeditiously.
>Unfortunately, it seems the person changing the emergency contact
>information forgets to inform the customer service operation they
>will now be getting those calls.  Some companies seem to do this
>well, some seem to do this poorly. As I found out, you never know
>when it will be your newest, greenest tech who happens to get the
>call at the exact same time the senior engineer is in the bathroom.
>Even though the calls are fairly rare, it is an ongoing training process.

I disagree with your point that NOC-to-NOC communications should ever be
forwarded to a general number, even with adequate training.  General
purpose numbers are not staffed 24x7, and the good intent of a
well-informed general purpose number gets sidetracked swiftly during
call-center grooming and re-organization of departments and other
diversions that occur during the life of a company.   How many times have
you called an ISP's "hotline" to talk with someone who has no idea what a
NOC is?  Or how many times have you been on hold for more than 15 minutes
only to be transferred to another queue?  The best intentions are no match
for entropy if the people in charge of the system do not have direct
control over the fate of where the call lands.

>Of course, if the general purpose contact number was working well,
>there wouldn't be a need for another contact method. 

My point exactly - we all have proof that the current system doesn't work
very well.


>>Therefore, to avoid this problem, one must limit the ubiquity of the
>>contact mechanism and increase the value of each message.  


>Yes, I'm aware of the 9-1-1 problem.  If you make something that works
>well, everyone is afraid it will be overwhelmed with all sorts of calls
>not relevant to its primary purpose.  On the other hand, if you make a
>something that is so restricted, it will never be abused, but it will also
>likely never get used or important pieces of information won't get through.

In the "Fantasy" proposal (low-baud satellite bi-directional group
communication), this would be solved by forcing everyone to have a
terminal.  A line-printer (or thermal, if you want it to be a little more
quiet ;) based box is easy to understand, easy to use, and can be placed in
the lights-camera-action NOC for easy access.  It's slow enough that it's
not going to be used for social interaction (like an IRC channel or MUSH
would) but even a 2400 baud stream would certainly be able to print out
enough information on each provider to give an adequate exchange rate.  Of
course, this scenario is overkill in my mind, and extremely difficult to
implement in the anarchy (classic use of the term) that exists in the
Internet today, even among just we members under ARIN's umbrella.

>How do you set things up to create a 'shared fate' among all the
>Do you need a strong moderator, editor or dispatcher to make such a
>system work?  To avoid the 'whose in charge' problem do we draw lots
>each week for the moderator position?  If each of the participants don't
>feel some pressure from their management, shareholders, customers to
>make a good faith effort; will any and every system fail of active
>neglect?  There have been several attempts in the past, and have not
>had a sucessfull track record.

We already have a central authority that collects two perfectly good points
of information about each AS in North America (supposedly.)  Between the
email addresses and phone numbers, there should be ONE method that gets
through to someone.  The problem is information rot - phone numbers that
ring to the boiler room and email addresses for people who have not worked
at said companies for 2 years.  No additional system is needed - just fix
the one we have.  Fixing may take more than just good will by the
participants - it will probably take fear of policy application. (it's not
a DOS - it's "policy application" if the majority agrees to the terms.)
   The only argument against competent repair of the information database
is "fear of spam".  This can be handled by swift and public flogging of
offenders, or merely excessive anti-response at the particular abuser.
Perhaps making AS records only available to members would cut down on
"farming" of such databases by un-involved third parties.  I think a
username/password combination would be a good idea, provided that it was a
reliable system.

>I'm going to keep throwing ideas against the wall to see what sticks.
>Are any of these ideas even close to being useful?  Or do people think
>there is not a problem and I should just shut up.
>Sean Donelan, Data Research Associates, Inc, St. Louis, MO
>  Affiliation given for identification not representation

It's a problem that we've all hit at one point or another.  It's not
crisis-level all the time, though, so it's not at the forefront of people's
minds.  It's only when you're looking for the right phone number of the AS
that's advertising the more specific route for your biggest customer do you
realize that something has to be done to keep the data up-to-date.


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