Events and Internal Communication Manager
October 28, 2020
Last week, Euro-IX and AMS-IX hosted their second webinar in the series ‘Is the Internet broken?’ Missed it? Here is a wrap-up report to get you up to speed.
The first webinar focused on the role of Internet exchanges when addressing the flaws of the Internet. In this second discussion, it was up to Thomas King (DE-CIX), Narelle Clark (Internet Association Australia), Brad Raymo (Stackpath and Open-IX) and Kevin Maynell (ISOC) to share their thoughts on the topic. After a short introduction by host and internet researcher Marc Bruyere, the group started to bring in their ideas.
The first one to take the floor was Kevin Meynell from ISOC who mainly stressed that we’re here to discuss the flaws of the Internet, but that there are good things as well. Protocols that were designed 30 to 40 years ago work remarkably well until this day, and new technologies are developed every day to address specific networking problems. The main issue with the Internet - as far as Meynell is concerned - is that a lot of solutions haven’t been implemented yet. He considers the SCION architecture that is currently reviewed in the 2STiC program a very interesting concept, but it cannot replace the Internet as it is.
Thomas King states that there is a shift in requirements for companies who work at the heart of the Internet. “In the early years, we were just happy that it worked. Now we have different requirements.” The new requirements not only focus on security and privacy but scale as well. Companies like Google and Facebook see more traffic every day. How do you cope with their tremendous growth? According to King, solutions for specific problems will appear and pick up as soon as the market feels that there is a need to implement them. The lack of uptake for IPv6 is an excellent example of that. “IPv4 still works pretty well, and that’s why we still use it.”
Some fundamental good things
Narelle Clark has a lot of experience with implementing new technologies in the core of the Internet. She is one of the driving forces to get IPv6 adopted and says it has been though trying to get there. One of the reasons why it so though is the fact that we are still building this Internet as it is. “We are still in the process of connecting everybody,” she says. “The problem of ‘the last mile’ and access for everyone has not yet been solved.” According to Clark, the Internet is not broken, but she is a bit on the fence if we would have designed it like this if we could go back in time. There are some fundamental good things about the Internet.
Brad Raymo stated “We are talking about the future of the Internet, but we haven’t even solved full deployment of IPv6 yet. There are far more pressing issues before we can move to the next level.” He sees the technologies under review with 2STiC as complementary to what we have today.
The group also discussed the market forces currently shaping and expanding the Internet. Raymo points out that large CDNs like Google, Microsoft and Facebook are privatising their global network infrastructure backbone and that this is a natural development. It is possible to start with alternatives by building infrastructure that is governed by an association or a government, but several panellists foresee problems. Clark has experience with this with the National Broadband Network and considers it a mild success, although specific steps could have been different. King recalls the slow broadband connection and a large bill from his childhood and certainly does not feel much for a government-run network. “It requires a deeper discussion,” says Raymo.