It’s common knowledge that “the Internet” is actually a set of networks belonging to a diverse range of independent organizations such as content providers, ISPs, corporations, and universities. These networks create the Internet by interconnecting. Without these interconnections there would be no path for data originating in one network to travel to a destination in another network. But the fact that traffic can get from any Internet location to any other doesn’t mean that all networks are directly connected. Instead, each network operator chooses which other networks to connect with. With that in mind, it’s worth thinking a bit about the business and technical considerations involved when networks interconnect.
The first thing to know about a relationship between two networks is the form of interconnection. Two main types are common:
Compared to transit connections, peering can be advantageous to networks on both business and technical levels. Let’s suppose, for example, that you’ve been going through network B to get traffic to and from network C, and you then discover that it would be possible to connect with network C directly. Why would you want to do so? The benefits of peering typically boil down to three primary areas:
So now we understand why you might want to peer. But it doesn’t make sense to peer with just anyone; you have to find a network with whom peering would be mutually beneficial. How do you do that?
It turns out that when network flow records (e.g. NetFlow, IPFIX, sFlow, etc.) are correlated with BGP routing data in a datastore that’s optimized for traffic analytics it’s relatively easy to discover the best peering opportunities for your network. Presented within a well-designed query and visualization interface, BGP analytics will help you see your prime peering candidates, which are the remote ASNs that terminate or originate the majority of the traffic flowing into and out of your network.
An added benefit of applying correlated Flow-BGP analytics is that you can find additional insights that don’t fall squarely into the category of peering:
The common thread of the examples above is that better understanding — based on flow and BGP analytics — leads to better business and technical outcomes. And the key to better understanding is to recognize that flow data plus BGP data makes Big Data. It’s not uncommon for a multi-homed network to generate billions of flow records per day. Until recently, however, traffic analysis solutions were severely limited in compute and storage capacity. That meant that they could provide summary reports, but not the kind of deep, path-aware analyses that offer the insights outlined above. Only a big data solution can handle the required data at the required scale.
Kentik has introduced the industry’s first purpose-built big data engine, built around a distributed post-Hadoop core, for network traffic and BGP analytics. Offered as a cost-effective SaaS, Kentik Detect includes key features such as real-time ad-hoc querying, alerting and DDoS detection, and intuitive, multi-dimensional flow visualizations.
Learn more about using Kentik for network peering and interconnection.