A lot of the current blogs, whitepapers, eBooks, and other marketing materials coming from IT service providers focus on things like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, edge computing, and distributed cloud systems. They’re exciting technologies and are changing the business world.
But for many in IT, their day-to-day needs and interests have to do with something far more elementary: the internet. That includes the choice of interconnection strategies on the internet.
Why Internet Interconnections Matter
As of April 2020, an estimated 4.57 billion people were active internet users. Many of them are business users that rely on the internet for powering websites, business communications, supply chain management, business research, and more. How fast data moves across the internet has a significant impact on their operations.
Transit speed is dictated by the interconnections between providers on the Internet, with IP peering and IP transit as the two primary means. Dedicated Internet Access (DIA), which is a private connection between a business and the web, is also an option.
An Overview of IP Peering
IP peering is a mutual exchange of data between two internet service providers (ISPs). The amount of data exchanged is typically close to equal. The ISPs don’t charge each other under an agreement known as settlement-free because both benefit under the arrangement.
Peering parties only exchange data that travels the paths of their networks and their downstream customers. Neither has visibility into the other’s upstream routes over the peering connection. Two networks directly connect and exchange traffic, which allows for the most optimal and efficient path.
There are two types of peering: private (direct) or public.
Private peering is an agreement between two or more networks to accept each other’s packets and forward them. The interchange is made at a common, private facility rather than at a public exchange point. Private peering interconnections make up most of the traffic on the Internet, especially between the large networks.
Among the advantages of private peering are that it’s easy to monitor and it’s more reliable and secure. It’s a good option for sending large volumes of traffic to a specific network, as it frees up capacity on public peering links for other traffic/peers.
One of the major disadvantages is that it takes time to setup new peering connections. However, the setup is extremely beneficial when a large quantity of data needs to be exchanged.
Public peering is used by large and small networks to aggregate groups of peers on an efficient, cost-effective service. Networks can connect using a single physical port or use multiple ports together to create large single virtual port. Once connected to a public peering exchange, networks can setup or remove interconnections to other networks without physically re-provisioning any circuits.
Among the benefits of public peering is that it keeps the traffic local in an Internet exchange point (IXP), which serves as an on-ramp to the Internet and a location for carriers to exchange traffic. This provides a more direct route between network operators. Data travels less distance, resulting in lower latency and less interruptions or content delays.
An Overview of IP Transit
With IP transit, one ISP pays another for the right to transit its upstream network and connect to other networks. The IP transit provider decides how traffic connects to the available routes across the Internet, including those of their downstream partners, other peers, and upstream providers.
Many of these network connections are indirect since most providers don’t have a global network footprint. As a result, the traffic travels through one or more third-party networks on the way to its final destination.
IP transit is easy to implement. Users pay for the service, and the ISP takes care of the provider’s traffic requirements. It also comes with guaranteed service level agreements (SLAs). If the ISP fails to deliver within the agreed-upon parameters, the customer has recourse.
Compared to a standard business Internet connection that’s dependent on routers with limited speed, an IP transit connection is faster. IP transit, delivered by an ISP with a strong peering network, eliminates extra hops in contrast with IP packets transiting through additional Tier 1 and Tier 2 networks.
An Overview of Dedicated Internet Access (DIA)
Because DIA is a private connection between a business and the internet, there’s no competition with other subscribers for bandwidth. It’s often described as an internet express lane with a particular business’ data the only traffic on the road. Upload speeds are as fast as download speeds. Even during peak times, data travels at a consistent speed.
Another benefit of DIA is security. Because a business doesn’t have to share an internet connection it has less risk from other networks. This allows for allocating resources toward other cybersecurity needs.
How Do You Make a Choice
Speed, security, and cost are three of the major criteria to consider when determining which type of internet access to choose. But ultimately what’s most important is what best meets your organization’s needs. What are the priorities? How important are things like latency? Could your organization benefit from multiple types of access? What are the use cases? Are you connecting to the cloud? Are you concerned about lengthy downtime?
US Signal offers a variety of switched and routed services, as well as direct transport. Our solution architects can help you assess your connectivity needs and the options to best meet them.