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Re: Internet Backbone Index
From: Sean Donelan <SEAN () SDG DRA COM>
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 19:45:23 -0500

SAVVIS.  Fortunately Our target markets are not just libraries and other
information providers, it's EVERYONE that needs a T1 and above connection
to the Internet.  How many cities are you in Sean, where are DRA's POPs for
customers to access?  How much bandwidth does DRA have to get these
customer to other network?  Let's compare bandwidth shall we.

DRA tries to do one thing well, rather than a lot of things not so well.

Like all things, the correct answer is "It depends."  If you are interested
in the DRA network geography, a pretty picture of the DRA North American POPs
is at <http://dranet.dra.com/dranet.html>.  BTW, all those locations are up,
operational, and have DRA owned and operated equipment in place.  DRA's
international offices are located in Montreal Canada, Paris France, and
Melbourne Australia.  The primary NOC is in St. Louis, MO and backup NOC
operates out of Monterey, CA.

Since DRA also has a lot of private connections (in the old NSFNET AUP days
these were called 'backdoor' connections) calculating total bandwidth is a
bit confusing.  If you follow the AGIS bandwidth counting method, DRA has
about 268 Mbps of possible bandwidth to other networks through public and
private inter-connects, although DRA doesn't have any single link faster
than 45 Mbps.  However, bandwidth is rarely the problem.  I've found a
well engineered 56Kbps connection outperformed a DS3 port into a poorly
engineered network.

When 80 to 90 percent of the Internet traffic is to MCI, SPRINT and UUNET
then our model is the right way to build this, not to try and see how many
peering agreements one can get.  

Except the model falls apart if 50% percent of the your Internet traffic
isn't just to MCI, Sprint and UUNET, as in DRA's case.  If you want to
get anywhere off the commercial beaten path, like many of our customers
do, things quickly get very bad if you stick with just those three
providers.  Most of our backdoor connections exist exactly for that reason.

Look at the KEYNOTE test sites. Although it might appear heavly weighted
towards MCI, SPRINT, and UUNET (23 out of 35 sites), the network is never
so simple.  It works well as long as you are in a US city going to another
US city.  But looking at the Bell Canada graph, things don't work as well.
Hint: If you are trying to reach a Canadian audience, don't put your web
server in a US city.  We've had a private 'backboor' connection to the
University of Toronto for years for precisely this reason.

Further, about half the Keynote test sites seemed to have alternate
connections.  I couldn't figure out the numbers until I started doing
traceroutes, and then things started making more sense.  You'll discover the
best route isn't always through MCI, Sprint or UUNET.  Those little exchange
points can make a difference.

St. Louis, MO       MCI           207.230.62.16         Cybercon/Internet 1st
$ traceroute 207.230.62.16  
traceroute to 207.230.62.16 (207.230.62.16), 30 hops max, 38 byte packets
 1  StLouis22-e3.dra.net (192.65.218.2)  200 ms  10 ms  0 ms
 2  stlouix.starnet.net (198.32.132.12)  10 ms  20 ms  0 ms
 3  e0-1-2.starnet2.starnet.net (199.217.255.97)  70 ms  10 ms  10 ms
 4  router.cybercon.com (199.217.252.58)  10 ms  20 ms  10 ms
 5  207.230.62.16 (207.230.62.16)  20 ms  10 ms  10 ms

It is amusing to look at AGIS's chart in the Boardwatch directory.  The
graph dramatically demostrates how badly AGIS's tough-line peering policy
hurt it in this test.  Refusing to peer with CRL or Goodnet wouldn't have
changed CRL's or Goodnet's performance very much, but it does appear to
hurt AGIS's performance.  Maybe Sprint and MCI might want to re-think their
peering policies also.  On the other hand, I've never heard of CompuServe
turning down an opportunity to inter-connect their network with other
networks.

I'm a pragmatic person.  DRA has connections to several exchange points,
and has many more private 'backdoor' connections to other networks.  DRA
even buys (gasp) service from a few other providers, and also sells service
to a few other providers.  All work well, customers are happy, and DRA is
profitable.  Let's compare balance sheets shall we?
-- 
Sean Donelan, Data Research Associates, Inc, St. Louis, MO
  Affiliation given for identification not representation


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