Tag Archives : peering March 2010

How Big is Google?

By: Craig Labovitz -

Google’s recent FTTH announcement generated a wave of media coverage and industry discussion. Responses ranged from exuberant local communities racing to sign up to anti-competitive howls from incumbent carriers.

Industry pundits wondered what is Google up to? What will the search giant do with 1Gbps to the home? And more ominously, is Google getting too big?

While this blog post won’t explore the politics / strategy behind Google’s FTTH initiative (except to suggest Google should choose Ann Arbor), we will share some data on Google’s relative size and growth from a global Internet perspective.

Google is big.

And by “big”, I mean really big. If Google were an ISP, it would be the fastest growing and third largest global carrier. Only two other providers (both of whom carry significant volumes of Google transit) contribute more inter-domain traffic. But unlike most global carriers (i.e. the “tier1s”), Google’s backbone does not deliver traffic on behalf of millions of subscribers nor thousands of regional networks and large enterprises. Google’s infrastructure supports, well, only Google.

Based on anonymous data from 110 ISPs around the world, we estimate Google contributes somewhere between 6-10% of all Internet traffic globally as of the of summer of 2009.

The below graph shows the weighted average percentage of all Internet traffic contributed by Google ASNs between June 2007 and July 2009. Most of Google’s rapid growth comes after the acquisition of YouTube in 2007.


Google's Contribution to Global Internet Traffic

Before getting much further, a few words about what we’re measuring. Traffic volumes provide only the most indirect measure of a network’s size or popularity (for example, it takes tens of thousands of Tweets to match the bandwidth of a single HD video). Our anonymous data also does not include internal provider services (e.g. IPTV or VPN) nor data served from co-located caches within provider data centers. Rather, we’re measuring inter-domain traffic, i.e. the traffic between providers (the “inter” in “Internet”).

With all of the above said, inter-domain traffic volumes provide a key metric for understanding Internet topology and the evolution of Internet traffic patterns.

But even traffic volumes tell only part of the story.

The competition between Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and other large content players has long since moved beyond just who has the better videos or search. The competition for Internet dominance is now as much about infrastructure — raw data center computing power and about how efficiently (i.e. quickly and cheaply) you can deliver content to the consumer.

And here again, Google is at the head of the pack.

In 2007, Google used transit providers for the majority of their Internet traffic (including Level(3)). But over the last three years, Google both built out their global data center and content distribution capability as well as aggressively pursued direct interconnection with most consumer networks.

The graph below shows an estimate of the average percentage of Google traffic per month using direct interconnection (i.e. not using a transit provider). As before, this estimate is based on anonymous statistics from 110 providers. In 2007, Google required transit for the majority of their traffic. Today, most Google traffic (more than 60%) flows directly between Google and consumer networks.


google_peering

But even building out millions of square feet of global data center space, turning up hundreds of peering sessions and co-locating at more than 60 public exchanges is not the end of the story.

Over the last year, Google deployed large numbers of Google Global Cache (GGC) servers within consumer networks around the world. Anecdotal discussions with providers, suggests more than half of all large consumer networks in North America and Europe now have a rack or more of GGC servers.

So, after billions of dollars of data center construction, acquisitions, and creation of a global backbone to deliver content to consumer networks, what’s next for Google?

Well, I’m hoping for delivery of content directly to the consumer via a nice, fat 1 Gbps FTTH pipe.

Google, please choose Ann Arbor.

Trick or Treat: A Halloween Peering Surprise

By: Craig Labovitz -

Yesterday, tens of thousands of Sprint and Cogent customers got an early Halloween surprise. At 4pm EDT, Sprint and Cogent terminated their direct peering relationship.

The below graph shows traffic from the perspective of 25 tier2 ISPs around the world. All of these ISPs are direct customers of either Sprint or Cogent. And all lost transit connectivity from Cogent to Sprint (or vice versa). The graph shows all ASPaths matching “174 1239″ and “174 1239″ across these 25 providers. One minute several Gbps of traffic and then, well, poof.

Sprint - Cogent Traffic

For all but a couple of these ISPs, traffic quickly moved to alternative paths. Other ISPs like Verizon, Qwest, BT, and Level3 (who had their own peering dispute with Cogent last year) provided transit paths between the now partitioned two ISPs. Though, at least one ISP anonymously participating in the Internet Observatory lost connectivity to Sprint customers (and continues to drop traffic as of this blog posting). It pays to be multi-homed.

Why did Cogent and Sprint pull the plug on their peering relationship? I have no direct information, but money, traffic ratios, and maybe even egos are always a good guess. Cogent sent out a press releasing blaming Sprint for the termination.

The Internet has always had holes and strange partitions (e.g. see Dark and Murky Internet Address Space). The Sprint – Cogent dispute is just one more in a decade long line of business and policy issues disrupting Internet connectivity.

In the unregulated ISP interconnect industry, peering is a lot like trick or treating. Sometimes the competitive industry drives down prices and gives customers a treat. But today some Sprint and Cogent customers definitely got tricked.

Trick of Treat: A Halloween Peering Suprise

By: Craig Labovitz -

Yesterday, tens of thousands of Sprint and Cogent customers got an early
Halloween surprise. At 4pm EDT, Sprint and Cogent terminated
their direct peering relationship.

The below graph shows traffic from the perspective of 25 tier2 ISPs
around the world. All of these ISPs were direct customers of either
Sprint or Cogent. And all lost transit connectivity from Cogent to
Sprint (or vice versa).

Sprint - Cogent Traffic

For about all but a couple of these ISPs, traffic quickly moved to
alternative paths. Other ISPs like Verizon, Qwest, BT, Level3 (who had
their own peering dispute with Cogent last year) provided transit
paths between the now partitioned two ISPs. Though, at least one ISP
anonymously participating in the Internet Observatory lost
connectivity to Sprint customers (and continues to drop traffic as of
this blog posting). It pays to be multi-homed.

Why did Cogent and Sprint pull the plug on their peering relationship?
I have no direct information, but money, traffic ratios, and maybe
even egos are always a good guess.

In the unregulated ISP interconnect industry, peering is a lot like
trick or treating. Sometimes the competitive industry drives down
prices and gives customers a treat. But today some Sprint and Cogent
customers definitely got tricked.