I spent most of my Friday assisting a fellow engineer with a curious issue. Packets were being sent from one network to a default gateway on a totally different subnet. Efforts to investigate the issue turned out to be mostly futile. Due to a strange interaction of proxy ARP and a dying router bridging network segments, I was frazzled to the limit of my patience. Then the customer asked me what was going on. Rather than admit that this networking problem had me baffled, I came up with something that I hoped explained my consternation:
“Your packets are being ferried to the Internet by unicorns.”
Now, my friend Greg Ferro is fond of saying that certain “magical” technologies must be powered by Unicorn Tears™, so when it came time for me to tell this non-technical person how the packets were jumping from one subnet to a gateway on another, I knew the only explanation that made sense involved those single-horned mythical creatures loading the packets up and carrying them across the network. It sufficed for the time being until I could actually resolve the problem by shutting down the dying router and tossing it into a river. Plus, the look of utter shock on my co-worker’s face when I explained the issue was worth the price of admission.
Afterwards, I started thinking that you could use unicorns to transport all kinds of protocols. IPX/SPX, Appletalk, even SNA. Once you get the right kind of unicorn trained to ferry IPX, for example, you just point him to the right stable (gateway) and off he goes. He should be able to carry large payloads quickly and efficiently. As well, since unicorns are mythical creatures, there’s no need to worry about encryption, since people can’t see them anyway. If you could build up an entire herd of unicorns, you could be capable of transporting massive amounts of data at once. I’m not sure what unicorns eat, but being mythical creatures means they shouldn’t eat too much. Then there’s the issue of having lots of stars and glitter all over the floor of your data center. But I think that’s a small price to pay for the advantage of such a fabulous transport method.