Researchers from U-M, Arbor Networks, and Merit Network Present Findings from Two-Year Internet Traffic Study   Bookmark and Share

Researchers at the University of Michigan, Arbor Networks, and Merit Network have released results from the Internet Observatory Report, a landmark two-year study of global Internet traffic that offers detailed trend data and analysis. Findings from the report were presented at the 47th North American Network Operators Group (NANOG47) conference in Dearborn, MI on October 19, 2009.

This study is believed to be the largest study of global Internet traffic since the birth of the commercial Internet in the mid-1990s. The report offers analysis of two years' worth of detailed traffic statistics from 110 large and geographically diverse cable operators, international transit backbones, regional networks, and content providers. At its peak, the study monitored more than 12 terabits per second for a total of more than 256 exabytes of Internet traffic over the two-year life of the study.

Key findings include:

Evolution of the Internet Core: Over the last five years, Internet traffic has migrated away from the traditional Internet core of 10 to 12 Tier-1 international transit providers. Today, the majority of Internet traffic by volume flows directly between large content providers, datacenter / CDNs and consumer networks. Consequently, most Tier-1 networks have evolved their business models away from IP wholesale transit to focus on broader cloud / enterprise services, content hosting and VPNs.

Rise of the "Hyper Giants": Five years ago, Internet traffic was proportionally distributed across tens of thousands of enterprise managed web sites and servers around the world. Today, most content has increasingly migrated to a small number of very large hosting, cloud, and content providers. Out of the 40,000 routed end sites in the Internet, 30 large companies "hyper giants" like Limelight, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and YouTube now generate and consume a disproportionate 30% of all Internet traffic.

Applications Migrate to the Web: Historically, Internet applications communicated across a panoply of application-specific protocols and communication stacks. Today, the majority of Internet application traffic has migrated to an increasingly small number of web and video protocols, including video over web and Adobe Flash. Other mechanisms for video and application distribution like P2P (peer-to-peer) have declined dramatically in the last two years.

A New Internet Ecosystem: Over the last five years, macroeconomic forces have radically transformed the global Internet commercial ecosystem. Economic changes, including the collapse of wholesale IP transit and the dramatic growth in advertisement-supported service, reversed decade-old business dynamics between transit providers, consumer networks, and content providers. A wave of innovation is ongoing, with service providers now offering everything from triple play services to managed security services, VPNs, and increasingly, CDNs. This change in the Internet business ecosystem has significant ongoing implications for backbone engineering, design of Internet scale applications and research.

About the Researchers:

The Internet Observatory Report is the result of a two-year collaboration between the University of Michigan, Arbor Networks, and Merit Network. At the U-M, research was led by Prof. Farnam Jahanian, Chair of CSE and co-founder of Arbor Networks, and graduate student Jon Oberheide. Both have research interests in network security.