Highlights of Peer 2.0 Conference: Aug 3-4, 2014 in Palo Alto, CA

On Monday, August 4th, I attended the Peer 2.0 Internet engineering conference, put on by the Peer 2.0 Foundation.  The sessions I attended were excellent tutorials that would be of great value to network engineers, Internet architects and business leaders.  Due to an auto accident and damage to my car, I had to leave at 2pm Monday and unfortunately missed all sessions that took place afer that.

For the complete program, please visit: http://peer2.org/schedule/

“One of the things that’s important about this event is that the networking business is changing,” SiliconANGLE founder observed to co-host Jeff Frick in their opening segment for the two-day event. The market is going through a once-in-a-decade transition that is not only reshaping the technology landscape but the competitive playing field as well, and not necessary for the better.  “We’re seeing a huge changing of the guard between who runs these big networks, Comcast and Time Warner are in a merger situation, if they control access to the Internet we might not see the next Netflix, we might not see the next Google,” he warned.

“It’s nice that the guys who pioneered a lot of the innovation, founded a lot of the early companies like Equinix, are now providing the education and giving back to the next engineers that are coming up through the system who will help us define what the future holds,” Frick said during his opening remarks.  ”Traditionally the network has enabled innovation on top of it but now the mode seems to be flipping around and innovation is going to be dictated to the network form the top of the stack,” he added. 

The first day’s focus was on “Interconnection/Peering 101” highlighting the traditional interconnection paradigms, processes, motivations and business cases for connecting to the core of the Internet.

Bill Norton of IIX provided the necessary background during his three Monday morning tutorials:  Internet Transit, Network Peering, The Business Case for Peering and Next Generation Interconnection, The Evolution of the U.S. Peering Ecosystem.  

The following topics were covered with quizes for the audience along the way:

Internet Transit Service – the model used by the overwhelming majority of all Internet connections between ISPs and network/content providers.  In particular, between larger (tier 1) and smaller (tier 2) ISPs/ network providers.

 Internet transit is the business relationship whereby an entity provides (usually sells) access to the Internet. Transit service permits network traffic to cross or “transit” an IP network, usually used to connect a smaller Internet service provider (ISP) to the larger Internet.

[An Internet Service Provider (ISP), also called a “Transit Provider”is an entity that sells access to the Internet.]

Internet Transit service consists of two bundled services: The advertisement of customer routes to other ISPs, thereby soliciting inbound traffic toward the customer from them The advertisement of other ISPs’ routes (usually but not necessarily in the form of a default route or a full set of routes to all of the destinations on the Internet) to the ISP’s customer, thereby soliciting outbound traffic from the customer towards these networks.

The transit service is typically priced per megabit per second per month, and customers are often required to commit to a minimum volume of bandwidth, and usually to a minimum term of service as well. Some transit agreements provide “service-level agreements” which purport to offer money-back guarantees of performance between the customer’s Internet connection and specific points on the Internet, typically major Internet exchange points (IXPs) within a continental geography such as North America. These service level agreements (SLAs) still provide only best-effort delivery since they do not guarantee service the other half of the way, from the Internet exchange point to the final destination

Some of the techniques used by some of the most intelligent network coordinators to optimize their transit purchases were also discussed.

Network Peering; The Business Case for Peering and Next Generation Interconnection.  The Business Case for direct interconnection, selecting an IXP, and Public vs. Private interconnection were explained.

Evolution of the U.S. Peering Ecosystem:  This talk described how the major ISPs and other players got involved in Internet tiering.  Network peering is a direct connection between entities- usually Tier 1 ISPs (free peering), but more recently between a Tier 1 ISP and a Content Provider (paid peering).

[A Tier 1 ISP is an ISP that has access to the entire Internet Region routing table only through its settlement free peering relationships.]

[Tier 2 ISP is an ISP thathas to buy transit from someone toreach some destinations in the Internet Region]

[A Content Provider focuses on content production and usually  buys transit.service with the exception of “paid peering” – see description below.”]

The cablecos/MSOs got involved in peering when @Home went bankrupt and they needed to connect with one another and other ISPs to make their cable modem Internet services work.  

“Paid peering” was described as something network providers do, but don’t talk about.  The most recent example was the paid peering deal Netflix struck with AT&T.  

The presentation with Q & A helped me understand the interconnect political dynamics of the tier 1/ tier 2 ISPs and content providers.

I attended only the first two talks in the afternoon.  Both were excellent:

Surviving a DDoS Attack – What Every Host Needs to Know, Martin Levy of CloudFlare

The magnitude of the attacks was startling and only getting worse.  The source of the attacks, best practices for good protocol hygiene, what steps to take to implement infrastructure ACLs and how to build relationships upstream in order to survive were all described.

Peering Improves Performance, Zaid Ali Kahn, LinkedIn & Ritesh Maheshwari, LinkedIn

This tag team presentation presented the performance benefits observed from peering over millions of page loads.  A monitoring tool was described that can assess and be used to improve web page loading latency.

The second day of the conference (which I did not attend) was to address the more advanced and evolving aspects of interconnection, with discussions and panels led by experienced industry professionals.]