Keynote/Boardwatch Internet Backbone Index A better test!!!

lhoward at UU.NET lhoward at UU.NET
Fri Jun 27 21:30:29 UTC 1997

The following should be attributed to Gene Shklar:

Please set for 80 columns.
> Thanks for the suggestions. We're considering doing a follow-up and perhaps making
> this a regular feature every 2 or 4 months thereafter. We've received a few suggestions
> for methodology changes/enhancements, and also several emails so far denouncing our
> methodology but not explaining why (which is typical of people in many areas -- politics,
> the environment, economics, whatever -- who disagree emotionally but not intellectually
> with the conclusions of a study).
> The current methodology generally shows how a web site connected to a particular
> backbone appears to the general internet population of users. The results are intended 
> to be a guide (but not the only one) for helping web sites select or evaluate a collocation, 
> hosting, or access provider.

Fine, I will point out a few specific problems with your methodology:

1.  Although a variety of backbones is used, the study does not say
which ones.  Also, even though the study does point out the assymetrical
routing of a web transavtion (hot-potato), it doesn't point out that
the traffic being measured is a brief web request (which is dumped to
the web server's backbone ASAP) answered by a long response (10KB in
this case, dumped to the querier's backbone).

2.  The test used measures the responsiveness of a company's web servers,
which is not necessarily reflective of the response their customers get.
This test specifically measures traffic going "outbound", but suggests 
that this information is useful in determining a carrier for "inbound"
traffic.  This could be misleading; a web farm will have a lot more 
outbound traffic than inbound, and a dial-up only provider will have more
inbound traffic than out.

3.  The results show an average taken over 24 hours, ignoring the important
"time of day" factor.  Compuserve, for example, may be dog slow
for three hours per day, and greatly over-provisioned for the rest of the
day.  In other words, if over a three-hour period samples took 15 seconds,
but only took 2 seconds for the rest of the day, it would score better
than a provider with a consistent 6-7 second rate.  

4.  The transfer rate of 10KB x 5 is not the same as the transfer rate
of a 50KB file.  If one backbone is significantly "burstier" than 
another, this could dramatically affect throughput.  For instance, a
10KB file might easily go through a bursty or bouncy backbone in just
a few seconds, while larger files require greater consistency.

5.  Some companies have more popular web pages than others.  Few major
providers hang servers directly off their backbone (whatever that might
mean in this context), but rather have a lobe or two attaching their farm.
Just because a provider's web farm is saturated or busy or slow, does not
indicate that the rest of their backbone is.

Looking back, some of these errors reflect a misinterpretation of mine
that the results were intended for consumers looking for a connection, as
opposed to a place to host their web server.  Most of these points still
apply, however.  And people will use the study results this way; if I can
make that mistake, J. Random LUser could, too.

Also, the links from the page to the graphs were diappointing.  What 
units are measured in the "Best Value" chart?  What does the price of a
T1 have to do with web hosting?  

All of the previous notwithstanding, I would be interested in a better
version of this study.  Even more interesting would be to track how
providers do over the course of several studies--who responds well to
backbone congestion?

> Gene Shklar			GeneShklar at
> Keynote Systems, Inc.		voice	(415) 524-3011


Lee Howard      	Internet Systems Engineer
(703)208-5231		UUNET High-speed Install         
lhoward at		Do I speak for UUNET? [NOT IN ANY WAY]

> "A great Internet application experience is all a matter 
> of customer perspective."
> ----------
> From: 	Peter Cole[SMTP:Peter.Cole at]
> Sent: 	Friday, June 27, 1997 10:57 AM
> To: 	nanog at
> Cc: 	marketing at
> Subject: 	RE: Keynote/Boardwatch Internet Backbone Index  A better test!!!
> I would like to see the test run again with the following change.  
> From each provider test the response time of the other 28 sites and not
> the providers own web server.  Then average the response times for these
> other 28 web servers and report that average response time from that
> provider.  The providers with good connectivity to the rest of the net
> should have lower average response time.  
> P.S. One might also be interested in the top one hundred web sites
> average response time.
> Peter Cole   of   Telescan, Inc.       (281)588-9155
> Better computing through lack of sleep.
> > ----------
> > From: 	Golan Ben-Oni[SMTP:bnite at]
> > Sent: 	Thursday, June 26, 1997 3:53 PM
> > To: 	nanog at
> > Subject: 	Keynote/Boardwatch Internet Backbone Index
> > 
> > For shits and grins:
> > 
> >
> > 
> > -Golan
> > 

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