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  1. #1

    Best transit approach? Tier 1/2 providers?

    Wanted to get some advice as transit isn't my knowledge area. We run a high volume consumer website where low latency is really important to us. Almost all of our traffic is from residential broadband and local to the UK where we're in colo.

    We have our own AS announced via two tier 1 networks. Is this a sensible strategy?

    Should we be looking at % of traffic from different networks and working out who to use for transit to ensure shortest path lengths?

    Should we be looking to work with partners who offload heavily at local public peering points?

    Getting into the IXPs and peering with the largest ISPs ourselves might be a possibility but I think could be a pain to manage for a small team.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Are the two tier 1 networks that you're connected to also broadband providers in the UK?

    It really depends on what you're offering as a hosted service as to whether or not it's worth it to peer with the local networks. If you are offering VoIP & other latency specific solutions or offering as service that is very bandwidth heavy and you suspect that you get more stability if you would connect to the local providers directly then it may be worth your while.

    Generally speaking, getting peering agreements done and connections setup is the biggest hassle. Especially if you need to backhaul to off-net locations. But once it's up, it's not that much harder to manage 5-6 upstreams vs 1 or 2.

    It may also be a better strategy to connect to a common public internet exchange as your peering point as then you'll be able to setup sessions with whoever you need to over the shared switch fabric rather than trying to get to each provider's facility individually.
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  3. #3
    Thanks for the quick response.

    Quote Originally Posted by media-hosts_com View Post
    Are the two tier 1 networks that you're connected to also broadband providers in the UK?
    Sadly not. I don't think any of the big three (Sky, Virgin or BT) are Tier 1 or 2.

    Quote Originally Posted by media-hosts_com View Post
    It really depends on what you're offering as a hosted service as to whether or not it's worth it to peer with the local networks. If you are offering VoIP & other latency specific solutions or offering as service that is very bandwidth heavy and you suspect that you get more stability if you would connect to the local providers directly then it may be worth your while.
    It's high volumes of small web requests, think ads, that we serve. Low latency is most important to us.

    Quote Originally Posted by media-hosts_com View Post
    Generally speaking, getting peering agreements done and connections setup is the biggest hassle. Especially if you need to backhaul to off-net locations. But once it's up, it's not that much harder to manage 5-6 upstreams vs 1 or 2.

    It may also be a better strategy to connect to a common public internet exchange as your peering point as then you'll be able to setup sessions with whoever you need to over the shared switch fabric rather than trying to get to each provider's facility individually.
    Sorry, I wasn't clear and probably didn't use the right terminology If we peered directly we would do that via public exchanges (probably LINX) but I'm wondering if it might be labour intensive, certainly compared to just having a couple of regular transit links. Is most of the work there just in setup/paperwork?

  4. #4
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    If you have the ability to connect to LINX and demarc it to your routers that already peer with the Tier 1 providers, it would be configured in the same way except you'd give them a slightly higher local preference so that your routers prefer the routes via the internet exchange. It wouldn't really add much more in terms of complexity to what you've already setup.

    You should probably touch base with other providers (or see if they have looking glasses available on their websites) to see how much latency you will save. If the two Tier1 providers peer directly with the broadband networks you're wanting to target, it's unlikely that you will save a significant amount of latency to those customers. Public looking glasses are your friend in this case. Try and find some that peer on that exchange and see what the latency is to some common destinations and compare to your current results.
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  5. #5
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    You're probably too small to directly peer with people at larger exchanges, and you only have a single geographical presence (larger eyeball networks want 2 or more).

    You're better off going with a route optimization product like Noction. It will help your outbound traffic, but inbound won't be optimized.

  6. #6
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    I'd recommend picking up partial transit from a couple of the more heavily peered networks. Goscomb/hSo and Netrino/Lynk come to mind.

    At an extremely discounted rate, they can provide solid throughput to major eyeball networks, without you having to deal with peering directly.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by fsckme View Post
    Wanted to get some advice as transit isn't my knowledge area. We run a high volume consumer website where low latency is really important to us. Almost all of our traffic is from residential broadband and local to the UK where we're in colo.

    We have our own AS announced via two tier 1 networks. Is this a sensible strategy?

    Should we be looking at % of traffic from different networks and working out who to use for transit to ensure shortest path lengths?

    Should we be looking to work with partners who offload heavily at local public peering points?

    Getting into the IXPs and peering with the largest ISPs ourselves might be a possibility but I think could be a pain to manage for a small team.

    Thanks
    Low latency plus extreme performance from residential/business broadband was also very important to us. So we went with Timico, based on the strength of http://www.timico.co.uk/about-timico/core-network

    The network footprint and diversity is really hard to beat

    Matt
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by fsckme View Post
    Getting into the IXPs and peering with the largest ISPs ourselves might be a possibility but I think could be a pain to manage for a small team.
    Given the above, and that you'd only be working with two different providers, I'd say you'd be better off using Tier 2's, but that also highly depends on who that Tier 2 is. Tier 2's have wider variability; you can end up with better routes than any of the Tier 1's, or you can end up with worse ones. Do your research and pick wisely. Different networks also have different geographical strengths, so be sure that the networks you pick are strong in your areas of interest i.e. the UK.

    The point behind going with Tier 1's directly is if you want to optimize your routing yourself, and working with the Tier 1's gives you more control on which routes you can choose, rather than have the Tier 2 pick for you. However, doing so is much less meaningful when you don't have your own backbone to work with. For example, provider A might have the lowest latency on a longhaul link between city B and city C, but you're coming from city A and provider A has congestion between A and B. If you only have one location, your only option is to router through another provider B, but who may have much higher latency between city B and city C. If you had your own transport from city A and city B though, you can simple direct traffic to provider A out of city B. The point being, the routing decisions that you would be able to make going directly with the Tier 1's is a small fraction of what is possible for a Tier 2 to optimize for. It's the same reason route science/optimization appliances are of little use for networks with backbones as there are too many permutations for them to account for.

    if you're looking to avoid that route optimization work, then just let a Tier 2 do it for you. They'll get you more direct routes through peering as well. You almost even only need 1 good one, with the other just for insurance/backup.

    Realistically though, AS or network hops don't really matter that much, so far as latency is involved. Yes, there is a higher risk as every hop is a potential point of failure, but the latency each router adds is inconsequential. Of much greater significance are the fibers paths and utilization rates. I'm not that familiar with fiber paths in the UK, but presumably as it's a relatively small geographical area, there won't be a significant different between different fiber paths connecting the same two locations, so it all comes down to utilization rates. Ideally, you want a provider who doesn't go above 50% of their capacity on any given link in their network, and is quick to route around any capacity issues that might pop up with their transit providers.
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  9. #9
    Thanks everyone for the insight

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by fsckme View Post
    We have our own AS announced via two tier 1 networks. Is this a sensible strategy?
    Yes, good start, as long as each of those pipes can handle 100% of your peak traffic. Now look at your traffic patterns, sources and destinations and figure out if you need to add anything like other providers or peering.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by fsckme View Post
    Should we be looking to work with partners who offload heavily at local public peering points?

    Getting into the IXPs and peering with the largest ISPs ourselves might be a possibility but I think could be a pain to manage for a small team.
    Bear in mind, depending on traffic levels, you may not even get peering with some of the networks you want that make those peering ports a worthwhile investment.

    If you want a no-hassle approach get a partial transit feed from someone to get closer and cheaper access to those networks. A few names were mentioned above, including us of course.
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  12. #12
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    BTW I have it on good authority that Goscomb's network is also excellent
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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by mdrussell View Post
    BTW I have it on good authority that Goscomb's network is also excellent
    But unfortunately not with presence in Equinix Slough (which is where we are)

  14. #14
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    TSOHost/Vidahost?

    I have some connectivity with them there. It's good too.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by fsckme View Post
    But unfortunately not with presence in Equinix Slough (which is where we are)
    FYI - we are coming to Equinix Slough in 1-2 months
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