Fwd: Alternative to NetFlow for Measuring Traffic flows

William B. Norton wbn at equinix.com
Wed Dec 18 07:10:57 UTC 2002

At 04:36 AM 12/18/2002 +0000, Sean M.Doran wrote:

>>I have found peering to have additive value; a lot of 1-2 Mbps peering 
>>sessions can save as much money for you as a single large traffic peer. 
>>The more traffic, the stronger the case for peering.
>Sadly, this completely ignores the cost of implementing and maintaining 
>peerings.  BGP does not exactly configure itself, and current routing 
>technology is somewhat frail -- if it breaks, somebody has to pick up the 
>pieces; if suboptimal routing results from a peering, somebody will have 
>to go and tweak things.
>Since the Internet is not exactly static, these things creep up from time 
>to time even after a peering is established.

Agreed there is an incremental operational cost of peering.

I've heard differing views on the importance of peering. One view is that 
Peering is a "Local Routing Optimization" for which an ISP always has the 
fallback of transit. Others view the peering session as very important to 
both peers for capacity, cost and performance reasons. These two different 
views tend to lead to different levels of resources and overhead. Most 
peers minimally expect (or require in BLPAs) each other to have a 24/7 NOC 
that works diligently to fix a broken peering session. Generally, this is a 
(financially) small incremental expense since the NOC staff and facilities 
etc. are already in place.

>An exhaustive itemization of the costs of any given peering is a of vital 
>component of a cost-benefit analysis, particularly where much of the 
>benefit is a reduction in monthly usage based billing costs, or a deferral 
>of an upgrade of a flat rate contract, rather than installing new parallel 
>connectivity to meet the demands of traffic growth.  While such a list 
>will vary from organization to organization, and some organizations may be 
>tricky to complete, one can consider the primitive case of a transition 
>from being singly homed to a transit provider to bring up an initial peering.
>Among the things to be considered: PA address space, BGP (and making sure 
>that the routers can handle the load, and so can the people operating 
>them), avoidance of accidental transit, what happens to the peering 
>traffic when the peering fails from time to time (or fills up with growth 
>traffic over time), NOC-to-NOC coordination, impact on actual and 
>potential SLA offerings, and so on.  The immediately subsequent 
>peering  may not make much of an impact on many of these however there are 
>real incremental costs.  Some of these may not rise linearly in proportion 
>to the number of peers (e.g. there may be a step change),
>but rather may be a function of that number, the number of your routers 
>which talk eBGP, and your overall traffic load.

Here again I agree, all things considered equal, fewer sessions cost less 
to build and manage than more sessions. Thankfully, peering sessions 
generally tend to stay up, providing the benefits of peering 99.9..% of the 
time.  I haven't heard many Tier-2 ISP Peering Coordinators (yet) complain 
that the ongoing operational overhead of their peering sessions was overly 
burdensome compared to the benefit they derive from their peering sessions. 
I have heard a few of the Tier-1 ISPs make these complaints however... but 
this may lead to a different conversation.

>I know a handful of cases where a broad peering strategy had a fairly 
>clear negative impact on the bottom line even though the saving in transit 
>fees was both directly measurable and large.   Anecdotes are not general 
>proofs, but do underline the uncertainty in your statement: "a lot of ... 
>peering sessions CAN save as much money ... as a single large traffic 
>peer".  [emphasis mine]
>Unfortunately, discussions here seem to focus mostly on measuring the 
>reduction in transit fees.  Wouldn't it be nice if this could be coupled 
>with reasonable discussion about the increase in other costs, and how for 
>some networks these costs are much higher than for others?

Tough to measure and quantify these incremental costs whereas the 
improvement in performance and cost savings are relatively easily measured 
and calculated. I seem to remember reading a paper about that...

>         Sean.

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