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MAKING IT BETTER: EXPANDING INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH TO MEET SOCIETY'S NEEDS
of precautions, compensation, and incentives, will require focused discussions and negotiation among key decision makers in the research community and among candidate system managers. The federal government can facilitate and encourage such discussions by linking the IT research community to system managers within federal agencies or by brokering access to elements of the commercial infrastructure.46
Experimental academic networks could, with some additional effort, be made more useful to IT researchers. Most such networks, such as the Internet 2, are limited by Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs) to carrying academic traffic and may therefore not be used to study business applications. One option would be to modify AUPs to allow some forms of business traffic to use the research Internet, so as to create a laboratory for studying the issues. Firms might be willing to bear the cost of maintaining backups for their commercial traffic on the commercial Internet if they could use the research network at below market prices.47 Government could also fund some data collection activities by Internet service providers (ISPs) that would be helpful to researchers trying to understand the evolution of networking. The commercialization of the Internet also put an end to systematic public data collection on network traffic. Unlike the regulated common carriers, who must report minutes of telephone calling statistics to the FCC, unregulated ISPs do not regularly disclose information on aggregate traffic or traffic by type. Thus, for example, published estimates of the portion of Internet traffic that is related to the Web vary widely.
Despite the myriad problems associated with large-scale IT systems, a coherent, multifaceted research program combining the elements described above could improve the ability to engineer such systems. Such work would help avert continuing problems in designing, developing, and operating large-scale systems and could open the doors to many more innovative uses of IT systems. It could also lead to expanded educational programs for students in computer science and engineering that would help them better appreciate systems problems in their future work, whether as researchers or users of IT. Because IT is less limited by physical constraints than are other technologies, much of what can be imagined for IT can, with better science and engineering, be achieved. It is not clear which techniques for improving the design, development, deployment, and operation of large-scale systems will prove the most effective. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Only with research aimed at improving both the science and the engineering of large-scale systems will this potential be unlocked. This is a challenge that has long eluded the IT