North American Network Operators Group|
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(see www.keynote.com) there seem to be some, uh, `interest' in keynote info last time it came up so just fyi (i.e., does not consititute endorsement or dismissal of content) [randy, why don't we just meet at ietf so you can main me in person for posting this rather than wasting nanog b/w on it] k ----------------------------------------------------------------- Backbones Wheel and Deal to Keep Net Moving by Gene Koprowski Some Internet wags claim that the initials WWW actually stand for "World Wide Wait." And according to a recent study, they might be more right than ever. Research being released by San Mateo, California-based Keynote Systems Inc. indicates that the technical performance of the Web has "degraded" by 4.5 percent since spring. Congestion at access points like MAE East and MAE West is so severe that in order to maintain acceptable performance, Internet backbone providers are continually having to monitor the traffic of the Net and change their routing assignments through new peering agreements, says Gene Shklar, vice president of Keynote, a diagnostic services consultancy that works with Web hosting companies. Despite claims of "increased bandwidth" advertised by many Internet backbone providers, performance is not keeping up with perception or demand. In fact, the average speed that content was traveling on the Internet, as of September, was just 5,000 characters per second, or only 40 Kbps. So cable modems, satellite modems, and other fast-transit technologies are not performing as advertised most of the time, and regional routing infrastructure disparities have a lot to do with that. Cities like Atlanta, Miami, and Dallas are suffering from slower access than San Francisco or Boston, Shklar says. The Keynote Systems' report was based on tests that used dedicated workstations for 45 days - once every 15 minutes - to determine the backbone network speeds. "The study is based on millions of measurements of what matters most to Web sites, which is how long it takes them to deliver content to their end users," says Shklar. "If you have to commute to work each day, it doesn't matter how well-engineered the road you are driving on is. What matters is how long it takes you to get to your destination." Most of the performance problems are out in the network, not on the individual Web sites. The problems tend to occur just as they do in the highway system: at the on-ramps and off-ramps. If the US had one homogeneous Internet network, the system would work quite flawlessly. But, Shklar notes, there are 47 different Internet backbone providers in America alone and 4,300 ISPs. "Any kind of average Web transaction from server to user ends up crossing at least three transit points," he says. "Each of the backbone providers is very good at running their own network. But they don't care at all about making optimal routing decisions based on the performance that the users will get." The report indicated that Internet backbone provider Savvis Corp., based in St. Louis, Missouri, had the fastest average page download time of all major providers. The time was 4.905 seconds per page. The runner-up was Cable & Wireless with a 5.008 average, followed by CompuServe (5.664) and UUNET (5.912). AT&T, by comparison, ranked 15th with 8.559 seconds for an average download, and Netcom came in at 31, with a time of 15.181 seconds for a page download, Keynote indicated. Overall, 34 backbone purveyors were surveyed. Savvis president and CEO Sam Sanderson said that the report - which will be published in Boardwatch magazine on Friday - indicated that Internet backbone providers would have to continue to purchase connections to large networks rather than peer at public network access points in order to maintain their level of service. "We're going to continue that strategy," Sanderson says. Brian Robertson, chief technical officer at PlanetAll, a Web site that helps friends locate missing pals and colleagues over the Internet, said the report was "interesting" and he agrees that the private network concept is going to continue so that electronic commerce will be able to flourish. "There are a lot of times when a site looks like it is down on the Web, but if you ping it from another location, it is OK," says Robertson. "The idea is to keep the traffic off the Internet and avoid the big switches, like MAE East and MAE West. If you have a bunch of redundant connections, get the packet of data off the Internet onto a separate network, run it through a SONET ring to the next closest data center. You generally try to minimize the number of hops of data across the network. That kind of service will have to continue for Web commerce to survive."