For enterprises and consumers around the world, the Internet has never been more important. Last week, we held our inaugural State of the Internet virtual summit, which brought together experts and leaders in Internet and application delivery to discuss topics related to the health and future of the Internet. Covering Internet, cloud network, and application delivery performance, this year’s inaugural summit focused on the impact COVID-19 and how network operators continue to adjust to a “new normal.” In this blog, we will cover some highlights from each of the sessions.
Panel Discussion on Internet Resiliency During COVID-19
While there was a lot of speculation about whether or not the Internet would “break” under the increased usage during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internet has proven to be incredibly resilient overall. In his opening remarks, panel moderator David Belson of the Internet Society reminded us that the Internet is a vast “network of networks” by its very nature and not a monolithic entity, which allows for a certain amount of redundancy and load balancing. The panelists in this session, in fact, represent organizations that play critical roles in the Internet ecosystem, including last-mile service providers, content delivery networks (CDNs), and Internet exchange providers (IXPs).
During their discussion, each of the providers shared personal anecdotes on the traffic shifts that they observed on their networks and platforms, the challenges that came along with that, and how they are working to remain resilient in this “new normal.” We learned that, for the most part, all providers saw a sudden and large uptick in usage correlated with the start of shelter-in-place orders. NEENIX, for example, saw a 2X increase in traffic, and NYC Mesh saw 2X daily usage on its network during the first week or two of the pandemic. To accommodate this sudden change in traffic, both companies worked quickly to upgrade infrastructure and deploy new resources.
Jana Iyengar of Fastly shared an interesting example of how the CDN saw its typical traffic curve begin to flatten out around this time. Rather than seeing the expected spikes in traffic at certain times of the day when people are streaming television or playing games at night, the demand for the Internet seemed to remain relatively consistent throughout the day. Despite the sharp increases in traffic and changes to regular usage patterns, these providers were able to scale and adapt their infrastructure to easily absorb the impact and deliver consistent and reliable service. Interested? Watch the session below to hear more about it!
Rescuing Game Delivery Under Internet Duress
The global pandemic has profoundly altered how we work and increased the global economy’s dependence on sustaining high levels of Internet performance. Across the gaming industry, in particular, delivering a fast and reliable experience to end-users is core to their value proposition. In the next session of the day, Bill Wohnoutka of CenturyLink shared how his team worked closely with partners and game producers to rapidly optimize game delivery over constrained networks.
Going into the pandemic, governments called on game distributors, CDNs and ISPs to collaborate on solutions to minimize network congestion and offered guidelines they should follow when possible—such as avoiding large downloads at certain times of the day, avoiding peak times, allowing rolling downloads with rate limits in place, and by giving advanced warning of significant releases. Of course, adhering to these guidelines require some creative problem solving for providers who need to manage both customer experience and regulatory concerns. Watch the recording of Bill’s session below to hear how they tackled this challenge.
Taming Anycast in the Wild Internet
The fast and efficient delivery of content and services is critical to digital experience. In our next session, Marcel Flores from Verizon Digital Media Services shares some of the challenges of running a large, multi-provider anycast CDN. Rather than making a deliberate choice around where to route user traffic, BGP anycast enables their network to take on the burden of choosing where to send users by taking advantage of BGP routing tables. However, as Flores notes, sometimes the network may not what you want it to do because of a policy that they cannot see or control that might conflict with the intended routing behavior. So they devised a tool to deal with these scenarios, called DailyCatch—which measures and analyzes global anycast. Catch his full session below.
Tales from the Security and NetOps Trenches
While the Internet is incredibly important for the delivery of digital services, enterprises also need to ensure security vulnerabilities are detected and mitigated as quickly as possible. Being able to block out malicious activity while, at the same time, allowing good traffic is incredibly complex, however. In this session on Internet security trends, Roger Barranco from Akamai shared recent experiences servicing Tier 1 customers, focusing on upstream Internet challenges and cyber-attack trends. Barranco asserts that organizations can best prepare for security events by knowing their traffic and what looks normal, building a defensive posture during peacetime, and practicing their routine cyber hygiene. Catch the full session below to hear more best-practices and trends on security vulnerabilities.
Darwin Reinvented On the Evolution of Protocols
In this final talk, Geoff Huston from the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) discussed the evolution of the TCP protocol, his thoughts on BBR and why it is such an important protocol for the Internet at this time. He then presents his broader observation that the application and the content world are now the evolved agile mammal in the Internet’s ecosystem and the lower layers of platform and transmission are playing the role of the reptiles. Don’t miss Geoff’s full presentation below!