Shortest path to the world

Leo Bicknell bicknell at
Thu Jul 16 13:58:10 UTC 2009

In a message written on Thu, Jul 16, 2009 at 02:07:12AM -0400, Sean Donelan wrote:
> Unless you were Federal Express, and wanted to understand where the 
> "center" of your service area was to help pick better airport hub 
> locations. Add in some offsets for time zones, weather, and even more 
> complexity and your hub ends up in Memphis.  Optimal can sometimes mean 
> its good enough, even the momument at the center of the United States 
> isn't actually located at the precise center.

The center of FedEx's world has nothing to do with geography, it
has to do with flight times.  JFK's prennial 1 hour delays make
that flight an hour longer, even though it is no further away.
Also, if I had 20 flights to the east coast, and 1 flight to the
west coast, I may well "shift my center" east choosing to burn more
fuel and time on one flight to save fuel on 20.  Oh yeah, and then
there are the other hubs in Indianapolis, Fort Worth, Oakland,
Newark, Anchorage, Paris, Guangzhou, Toronto and Miami.  Guess
Memphis isn't the best, all by itself.

Anchorage you might say?  That's odd.  Well, turns out a fully
loaded freight aircraft have trouble making it from many Asian
countries to the US on one tank of fuel.  If you have to stop to
refuel you might as well sort some packages while your waiting for
it to pump into the plane.

> Operations research is filled with people trying to figure out the optimal 
> number of hubs, hub locations, routes between them for all sorts of stuff.
> So where are the operations research people studying the Internet?

At every ISP and content provider out there.  The answer is different
for every company.  FedEx and UPS don't have the same hubs, because
they don't serve the same customer base.  Akamai, NTT, and DTAG all
have different points of presense based on their customer bases.
Each one has the "optimal" network for their customer base.

Your question is akin to tell me the best car, house, boat, airline,
ISP, operating system.  Magazines love to crown the king, but we
all know making the right choice has orders of magnitude more to
do with your specific situation than it does with the product or
service in the abstract.

       Leo Bicknell - bicknell at - CCIE 3440
        PGP keys at
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