Preface - A Note to the Reader

Excerpts from The Internet Peering Playbook: Connecting to the Core of the Internet

This is an exciting time to be working on the Internet. Today hundreds of millions of users are connected to this global network, using it as part of their daily workflow. Many of the most innovative applications reach viral popularity literally overnight, and multi-millionaires are being made every day.

Many of these emerging services grow to require better than commodity Internet services purchased at the edge of the Internet. To continue the wave of mass adoption, these services require flawless performance at massive scale, achievable only by connecting directly to the core of the Internet. Massive volumes of Internet traffic are exchanged at the core of the Internet in a sort of open Internet transit marketplace. This area is where the largest Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the world interconnect, where the largest content providers interconnect with the largest regional ISPs, where the content delivery networks offload their traffic directly onto the broadband networks. The information and strategies described in this book will enable the next generation of Internet services companies to connect to and leverage the performance benefits at the core of the Internet as well.

This book is the assimilation of thousands of discussions with hundreds of the smartest peering coordinators in the world. I spent over a decade on the road, travelled to almost every continent, racking up over 500,000 air miles and spending over $500,000 in travel budget. I attended every Internet Operations conference so I could understand how Internet interconnection worked and document what I learned. I documented what I learned, citing the sources when allowed, and then walked others through the white paper to see if I got it right. After about 100 walkthroughs, I had a white paper that documented a particular aspect of Internet interconnection. Over 10 years I went through this process to produce 12 peering white papers. This base research is the raw source material for this book.

The information contained in this book is valuable. As a consultant, I help executive teams build effective peering and transit strategies. I also advise investors on the core Internet industries (ISPs, carriers, colocation centers, IXPs, CDNs, etc.). For these engagements I am paid quite a bit, and about 70% of the information I provide during these consulting engagements is information contained within this book. The rest of the information is provided on-site as the teams develop their strategies and investment theses. On-site consulting costs a lot of money, but to these teams, collectively, their time is worth a lot more money. They prefer a two-day on-site consulting engagement where they learn together and develop a strategy based on the information I collected during the last couple of decades. Internet interconnection and colocation is a highly specialized area of expertise, and there are only a few of us that can deliver this type of on-site consulting. This book provides this proven valuable information in a much more cost-effective package.

My hope and expectation is that this material will help the next generation of peering coordinators, network engineers, network architects, and business leaders understand and leverage the power of peering at the core of the Internet.

Notes from the field.

Stories and Anecdotes to Make a Point

Throughout this book I include stories and anecdotes that illustrate a particular point. I will format them as I do here to set them apart from the generalizations made in the book. When I consult with clients and when I present peering workshops, I have found that these stories help bring to life the points presented in the material.

Much of this information was previously documented in my peering white papers and remains freely available on the DrPeering website.  This research has been used at universities around the world. The research has been updated and the text rewritten and edited for clarity and readability.

In The Grand Design, Stephen Hawkings says that a model is a good model if it is “1) elegant, 2) contains few arbitrary or adjustable elements, 3) agrees with and explains all existing observations, and 4) makes detailed predictions about future observations that can prove or disprove the model if they are not borne out”.

While the modeling of the Internet core as an ecosystem is not of the scale or importance of his work, I believe the Global Internet Peering Ecosystem model is a good model. The model is 1) simple, 2) contains few variables, 3) agrees with the observations made around the world, and 4) provides detailed predictions on the behavior of the parties involved at the Internet core.

The Global Internet Peering Ecosystem has many characteristics of a living ecosystem. There are individual identifiable species that hold power positions within the ecosystem, complete with motivations and predictable behaviors consistent with their position. The ecosystem itself has morphed over time to adjust to the stimulus placed upon it by the customers and their applications at the edge.  The scope of this Internet ecosystem is global, so the stakes are very high, and information has been hard to gather. This book uncovers perhaps the most important topics on the Internet today—the evolution of the Global Internet Peering Ecosystem, and are we going in the right direction?

Tell me what you think

All of this work is based on extensive primary research in the field. The previous white papers were discussed with the population, and comments, refinements, and adjustments were made as a result of the feedback. Through this stepwise refinement process, the research more or less accurately reflected the views of the population, or at least the population studied.

Feedback from readers will be a natural part of the process for this book as well. If you have any comments regarding how we could better improve the quality of this book, please send an e-mail to and be sure to include the book title and ISBN number in the e-mail subject field.

Thank you for your feedback and suggestions.


Palo Alto, California

August 2011



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The 2014 Internet Peering Playbook is now available on the iPad at the Apple Store and for the Amazon Kindle. The Kindle, ePub and PDF form are also perpetually updated on the DrPeering DropBox share.