ISP Column - September 2023

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2023-09-15 05:30:02

AUSNOG’23 was held in September. As usual, the meeting had a diverse collection of presentations on network technology, operational practices, engineering, and experiences. One of these presentations, by Cloudflare’s Tom Peseka, was on the subject of service routing, highlighting the ways in which today’s service platform attempt to optimise the user experience through service routing.

The classical model of the Internet (yes, I think the Internet is now old enough to have a "classical" model that refers to the original design and operational practices from some time back before, say, the year 2000!) was that you looked up the DNS with the name of the service or resource you wanted to connect to, the DNS duly returned an IP address, and then you opened an IP transport connection with that IP address. The quality of the service that ensued between you as the user and the service point was largely a network issue, which was influenced by the quality of the network path. That, in turn, was an outcome of the routing process. BGP was not just a reachability protocol, but also a traffic engineering protocol. Connecting customers to services was a BGP problem!

One of the big changes within the Internet over the last decade or so has been the shift to replicated services. Rather than operating a single service delivery point and use the network to connect the service’s users to this delivery point, this service replication allows each individual service point to be positioned closer to clusters of users. The question now becomes who (and how) selects the "best" service point to use in response to each user's service request.

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