the Internet Backbone

Jim Fleming JimFleming at
Sat Apr 6 21:47:04 UTC 1996

On Saturday, April 06, 1996 8:29 AM, Tim Bass (@NANOG-LIST)[SMTP:nanog at] wrote:
@As Vadim corrected pointed out in a earlier post, the Internet
@is a routing hierarchy.  This hierarchy is *dynamic* and not
@static.  Hence, a 'Tier 4' (as Micheal suggests) maybe a 'Tier 6'
@in two years... 
@It is not practical to define numerical based Tiers, any more than
@it is practical to say  200/2=100, 100/2=50, 50/2=25.... okay lets
@stop now, cause NANOG defined fractional division 'tier 4' as 
@the end user in a press release (?) and told the world that
@you cannot divide 25 by 2... *not allowed*. 
@FYI, 'a backbone' is not a completely definable entity. Is it
@an abstraction.  Discussing the exact defination of an abstraction
@is much like playing with a Rubic's cube, a nice way to kill
@time.... BTW.
@Abstract concepts allow for creative thinking, growth, and 
@other conceptual events.  Taking abstractions and trying to
@turn them into strict constructs and structures limits
@the creative processes,  ad infinitum.
@Oh well, now back to another round of..... "Name that Abstraction".

You make some very good points...the term "backbone" conjures up
certain simple images that allow people to better understand a complex system...

I prefer to think of the entire system as a series of concentric rings...
the "legacy" Internet is near the center and provides "transport"...this
core area can also be viewed like a castle surrounded by a is
good that we have many Cats and Dogs guarding the castle...:-)

moving out from the "core/center/castle", the Galaxy Network is the next ring
and acts like a moat...this is where the Dolphins swim...:-)

the subscribers are in the Outer Network on the other side of the moat...this
is where the Cats and Dogs spend most of their time...running around the hills
and deploying servers in hamlets...

"logical traffic" flows between subscribers (and servers) in the outer ring...the
average subscriber does not care about the path taken by the traffic as long as
the service is perceived to be good...
	...good = (fast, cheap, reliable, cheap, secure, cheap,...etc.)

logical traffic flows by transiting to and fro across the moat and in and out
of the castle(s)....some castles have better service than others...some
subscribers prefer to have their traffic handled by certain
those cases, the subscriber does care about the transport path...but they
only pick their draw-bridges every so often...

to transition from the "backbone" view of the world to the concentric circle view
one has to turn their brain 90 degrees...If you slice a large fish at a 90 degree
angle to the "backbone" see the backbone surrounded by layers of meat...
the skin is the outer that view, the backbone is like the core or the
castles...the moat is like the organs and guts surrounding the backbone and
the subscribers (and servers) are the "meat"...

I think God provides the skin that keeps the meat, guts and backbone together...:-)

...without the skin...everything falls apart...and we have a mess...the backbone
is one small part of the puzzle...

...if people want to move "closer" to God...they should move away from the
backbone...not closer to it...unfortunately, most Cats and Dogs build their houses
as close to the moat and castle as they can....this crowds the Dolphins...
the Dolphins do not care...they just make the moat bigger...

Jim Fleming
UNETY Systems, Inc.
Naperville, IL 60563

e-mail: JimFleming at

More information about the NANOG mailing list