October 16, 2009
The Earth Internet is Flat
"The Internet is a lot flatter today, more densely connected," said Danny McPherson, VP and CSO of Arbor Networks due to consolidation as fewer networks handle more online traffic according to the findings of Arbor Networks' Internet Observatory Report. Quoting from Thomas Claburn's Information Week story, Google Now Largest Source Of Internet Traffic. The Report is believed to be the largest study of global Internet traffic since the start of the commercial Internet in the mid-1990s. The report offers analysis of two years worth of detailed traffic statistics from 110 large and geographically diverse cable operators, international transit backbones, regional networks and content providers.
Key Findings from the press release for the Internet Observatory Report:
Evolution of the Internet Core: Over the last five years, Internet traffic has migrated away from the traditional Internet core of 10 to 12 Tier-1 international transit providers. Today, the majority of Internet traffic by volume flows directly between large content providers, datacenter / CDNs and consumer networks. Consequently, most Tier-1 networks have evolved their business models away from IP wholesale transit to focus on broader cloud / enterprise services, content hosting and VPNs.
Rise of the ‘Hyper Giants’: Five years ago, Internet traffic was proportionally distributed across tens of thousands of enterprise managed web sites and servers around the world. Today, most content has increasingly migrated to a small number of very large hosting, cloud and content providers. Out of the 40,000 routed end sites in the Internet, 30 large companies – “hyper giants” like Limelight, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and YouTube – now generate and consume a disproportionate 30% of all Internet traffic.
Applications Migrate to the Web: Historically, Internet applications communicated across a panoply of application specific protocols and communication stacks. Today, the majority of Internet application traffic has migrated to an increasingly small number of web and video protocols, including video over web and Adobe Flash. Other mechanisms for video and application distribution like P2P (peer-to-peer) have declined dramatically in the last two years.
A New Internet Ecosystem: Over the last five years, macroeconomic forces have radically transformed the global Internet commercial ecosystem. Economic changes, including the collapse of wholesale IP transit and the dramatic growth in advertisement-supported service, reversed decade-old business dynamics between transit providers, consumer networks and content providers. A wave of innovation is ongoing, with service providers now offering everything from triple play services to managed security services, VPNs and increasingly, CDNs. This change in the Internet business ecosystem has significant ongoing implications for backbone engineering, design of Internet scale applications and research.
So if this is the present, what lies ahead? In a recent speech about the Internet's uncertain future, Lee Rainie, Director, Pew Internet & American Life Project, said "the first area of critical uncertainty involves the kind of internet we have -- from the standpoint of the internet’s architecture and its adoption." See LLB's post, What We Don’t Know About the Internet's Future. [JH]