Ask Dr. Peering


Here are some of my favorite books on my bookshelf...


I like the John Moy OSPF book. You can really sit down and read this book cover to cover and have a good overview of this popular IGP.

For network management I have always been a fan of the Marshall Rose books, primarily because of the clarity of the writing. I have read the Simple Book cover to cover several times, in part for my consulting and training work, but also because I wrote network management apps for years. The Simple Book is a bit dated, only covers SNMP v1, but like most purists, I believe SNMPv1 was simplicity at its finest, a very lean and effective protocol. Bolting complicated security proved to be cumbersome to deploy. Anyway, The Simple Book is still a solid read.

For peering, you need to understand the protocol (Border Gateway Protocol, BGP) and a combination of the RFCs and the O’Reilly books do a good job covering the topic. Along with a Cisco IOS book like the O’Reilly one shown below, a network engineer can get by.

I am perhaps a bit old school with respect to programming and Unix tools, so it will not surprise you to know that I still like the original Kernighan and Ritchie “C” Programming Language as an introduction to programming. One nice thing about this book is that “C” will still work across all variants of Unix you might run into. As you can see by the Amazon link, used copies are available for only a few dollars. The Unix Programming Environment introduced me to programming the shell and the beginnings of “C” integration into those scripts, and much can be done without coding outside the shell.

I would consider the newer ANSI version of the book and maybe the new (2013) C++ by Stroustrup book if you want something published this year and a bit more modern. The other programming bible, for those late night shifts when nothing breaks, is Rochkind’s Advanced Unix Programming. I learned to program Unix system calls the way they were intended to be used, all through short and elegant sections of code from this book. My boss told me “this book will turn a first year Unix programmer into a third year Unix programmer,” and he was right.

For general books on the protocol stacks I would go with Comer, and the TCP/IP Illustrated series from Stevens, Wright and Fall.

I happen to like hacking javascript code, manipulating the DOM to do fun things like the on-line Peering Simulation Game. For this coding I like the Flanagan Javascript book, along with Nixon’s Learning PHP, MySql, Javascript and CSS book. There may be updates, but this is on my book shelf and helps with my LAMP or MAMP programming. I don’t do much with the Javascript libraries (Dojo, JQuery, etc.) but I tinkered with them. If the question is “What books should the NOC have?”, I would say these (JQuery in Action, Dojo The Definitive Guide) are some good ones to start with. For middle of the night NOC coding I would probably make use of the javascript libraries.

As for interesting business books, I have read a bunch of really good ones.  I like The Tipping Point, Predictably irrational, Good to Great, the Long Tail, Outliers for the same reasons - they are well written and bring forward an insightful premise. They were all recommended by peering people and I agree with their recommendation. Being in the peering space, the nature of interpersonal interconnections is described in Linked, and explains why our power within the community comes from all of those weak relationship links. Interesting.

Never eat alone is a good book that speaks to our people network, and taught me about the “networking jerk,” the guy that speaks to you but looks over your shoulder to see who he would rather speak with. We all have been guilty of this, failing to pay attention to the person in front of us. It takes a book like this to highlight things we need to do better.

For those that recognize that the value of peering professionals is proportionate to their personal relationships and the effectiveness of their interpersonal dynamic, read Emotional Intelligence and some of the Daniel Goleman follow-on books. It will improve the way you work with others and help you be successful moving forward with your external and internal teams.

If you are thinking about going for your MBA (like I did, Michigan Business School ’98) consider reading “What they don’t teach you at the Harvard Business School.” It will give you a sense of the value of an MBA, something that many of my techie friends dismiss. My friends are wrong by the way - an MBA is a helpful degree in that it will allow you to understand the various disciplines that are essential to building a successful business. Without it, you may hire the right people, build the right product, address the right market, you be successful, but why not improve your odds?

One book you will read in business school is the Discipline of Market Leaders which argues that leaders dominate two of the three dimensions: Innovation, Customer Intimacy, operational excellence. You should read this book and determine which two of the disciplines your firm intends to dominate.

I also like Happier, a book that focuses your attention on those things that make you a happier person. Read this next time you fall victim to a flame war.

Another area where people seek my advice is on writing books. I wrote The Internet Peering Playbook and made just about every mistake one can make. There are many pitfalls, and the direct payoff is not great, but the indirect payoff is great. People are affected by your book and tell you when they meet you. People are thankful that you shared your insights, data points, stories, etc. and the reader is better for it. I don’t think my ego swells more than when I meet a people like this and we have a conversation about this narrow micro niche topic I wrote about. The credibility that you gain when you published a book is also pretty compelling.

To this end...

I like EPub: Straight to the Point because it effectively tells you the steps needed to make your word document an ePub. Ultimately though, I found the Dan Poyntner Self-Publishing Manual to be the richest and most practical book about publishing, why you should or should not self-publish. It is a wonderfully prescriptive book on self-publishing.

Also, there is much good free information about self-publishing. Apple and Amazon have really good free publishing guides on their sites. I started with SmashWords Style Guide as I went down the entirely free self-publishing channel. Ultimately, I published my book under DrPeering Press so I would retain control and sell directly to Apple and Amazon.

So there you have it, a select set of the books on my bookshelf. I have a bunch of these and more as eBooks mostly from the iBookStore. But when it comes down to it, I am one of those old people that like physical books. The physical books beckon me to revisit them when I see them on the shelf, and I get to remember what the book was about. Like the old LP Album Cases of yester year being replaced with CDs and digital downloads, I think with the digital version of books, we lose something. So I still buy physical books.

I am sure to add more, but these are all books I have read and I think they will help start a NOC/Peering Bookshelf. Send me your favorites!


There are many other books I have on my programming shelf, from subversion to HTML5 and CSS3 by Hogan, from the Big Nerd Ranch books on IOS to the Pragmatic Programmer’s books on Objective “C” and Ruby. But I am getting a little lazy here. The other thing I notice when I code is that I find on-line snippets of code more often then look things up in books.

Public Speaking Books

For public speaking, I went through the Dale Carnegie class, and I would recommend it to anyone. He teaches the natural speaking technique, speaking about something you know about, and the use of stories to convey a point. Many of the stories we learned from were in his best seller “How to win friends and influence people.” But I also like good books on style, and the social dynamics involved when giving and receiving presentations, like Presentation Secrets by Kapterev.

The 2014 Internet Peering Playbook

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