[time-nuts] NIST time services

Jim Lux jimlux at earthlink.net
Sun Mar 23 21:35:08 EDT 2014

On 3/23/14 10:48 AM, Paul wrote:
> On Sun, Mar 23, 2014 at 1:08 PM, Bob Camp <lists at rtty.us> wrote:
>> I suspect that what NIST is looking for is somebody in the cloud business
>> (Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM) to step up and mention that they have
>> 2,989,875 server racks scattered about the world and they would be happy to
>> run NTP on them for "free". (see fine print attached ....)
> There's no mention of compensation in the solicitation for input

An RFI isn't a solicitation (an offer to buy).  It's more the 
equivalent of mailing away for everyone's sales literature.  If costs 
are mentioned in someone's response, that might help NIST figure out 
their cost/benefit and make vs buy analyses.  For most RFIs, the 
responses are public.

> they do want some things that might or might not fit the business models of
> the large server companies:
> -) Traceable time.
> 0) 180 day hold-over in the absence of GPS (presumably with less than a
> microsend error).
> 1) Dedicated (low-latency) links to the UTC(NIST) ensemble
> 2) Notable oversight by NIST.
> 3) Geo dispersion.
> Point three may seem a no-brainer but it disqualifies Amazon if they're
> using only native infrastructure.  It sounds like they want what they
> should have gotten from Certichron/USTiming but didn't.
> I suspect the best candidates would be someone like Hurricane or Equinix
> with the Level3s in the second tier.

Or, they might be looking for someone to be a system integrator, and put 
it all together.  That's what an RFI is all about.. get the ideas from 
people who have them, so that when the solicitation does come out, 
they're looking to buy something that someone is willing to sell.

It might also help them figure out what kind of budget they will need.

Note well that you don't have to be a provider of services to respond to 
the RFI.  If you have good ideas, but aren't able to implement them, for 
whatever reason (maybe you personally don't want to be running a 
business), you can still send them to NIST, and they'll factor into 
their decision making and planning process.

When I've been involved in issuing RFIs in the past, often the best 
ideas come from people/firms who aren't in the business.  The folks in 
the business are often loathe to publicly put their ideas out there, 
because they fear it will telegraph information to their competitors 
about future business plans.  If you're not planning on competing, what 
do you care who knows about your ideas.

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