A Journey to the Center of the Internet: A Network of Networks


Part 1 of a 4-part video series

These days, it seems just about everyone on Earth is connected to the Internet. We’re wired. And wireless. 24/7/365.

Journalist, Andrew Blum, took a two year journey exploring all the hotspots around the world to chronicle the development of the Internet and how it actually works Tentes gonflables.

Blum’s book “Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet” came out earlier this year… and in it he explains the physical nature of the Internet.

In a videotaped interview here at Equinix (see below), Blum says the Internet should be viewed as a network of networks, and he reveals some of the most important connected buildings in the world.


[flv:https://blog.equinix.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/2_DC_Security.flv 544 306]

The video is also available for viewing on YouTube

Read the Transcript

“What was so striking to me was to understand first that the internet is a network of networks. That is just a very basic top level idea.

And then to recognize that those networks had to connect physically, one router to another, a Google to a Facebook, a Comcast to a Time-Warner.

And to recognize that not only was that a physical process that was most easily done in a single building, you know, most likely will be yellow fiber optic cable from one router to another cross connect but also that it was a social process.

That it was about two network engineers maybe at a place like NANOG, North American Network Operators Group drinking a lot of beer and earning each other’s trust and recognizing that there was a benefit to connecting my network to your network perhaps, as well, with some payment involved becoming a customer, but just fundamentally that idea that there had to be this physical connection between networks. And there had to be a place where that can happen.

What was striking to me was to recognize how few places there were where that happened more than most anywhere else. And I use this sort of somewhat fuzzy number of about a dozen buildings in the world that are more important than all the rest.

And when you look at the numbers of how many networks are in each building it’s really quite striking that there really is a sort of top tier that is in order of magnitude more important than the next tier.

So if you have 400 networks in one building in that sort of second tier of buildings there might be 40 or 50 networks.

And it’s amazing to me how clearly defined that relatively short list of buildings is around the world.

When I think about what the most important buildings of the world are, the sort of biggest monuments of the Internet, the places where the most networks connect, the buildings that I focused on in Tubes that I visited and explored most definitely, and the top of the list, certainly, is Equinix’s campus in Ashburn, 60 Hudson St. in New York, Telehouse in London.

In Frankfurt and Amsterdam it’s based on the interexchanges so it’s a bit of a different framework, but certainly that’s not quite buildings but more certain collections of a handful of buildings. So Frankfurt and Amsterdam, 1 Wilshire in Los Angeles, here in Silicon Valley the building formerly known as the PAIX (Peering and Internet eXchange) and SV1.

And then I didn’t make it to Asia, but certainly it would seem quite clear that a couple facilities in Singapore, some Equinix’s, and Hong Kong and Tokyo were all sort of these key places where the networks of the Internet connect to each other.”

Coming up in part 2: Just how secure are data centers?

Buy the Book: “Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet”