Provider Relationships: Peers and the Trail of Tiers in Visual Studio .NET

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Provider Relationships: Peers and the Trail of Tiers
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One service provider may be a customer of another, higher-tier provider In such cases, the router at the lower-level provider is a border router with respect to its own autonomous system (AS), but is a provider access router with respect to the higher-level provider One confusion in BGP is the word peer It is confusing because there really are two distinct usages of the same word, one at the protocol level and one at the policy level At the protocol level, two routers that are BGP peers simply have a BGP session running between them over a TCP connection This is an important level, because if you don t have session-level connectivity, the higherlayer things in BGP cannot happen BGP protocol peering is at the level of pairs of routers The other meaning is at the policy level, and refers to a business relationship between entire ASs In policy level peering, pairs of ASs decide either that they have the same status or that one AS is at a higher level in the food chain When two ASs decide they are peers in the sense that they have comparable customer bases and routing infrastructure, they also assume there is a roughly equal relationship in which they have approximately the same number of customers They decide it is to their mutual benefit that their customers reach one another They do not pay one another for routing information, but simply advertise their customers routes to one another They emphatically do not exchange their full Internet routing tables In contrast, when an enterprise buys transit from a service provider, there is an unequal consumer-provider relationship The consumer pays the service provider for Internet access The consumer may choose to receive the full Internet routing table from the service provider Another option, quite commonly used in load sharing, is to have the service provider send only those routing table entries that go to the ISP s directly connected customers
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The Service Provider Landscape
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Interprovider relationships often are stated with respect to tiers While there are no formal definitions of a tier, and salespeople often and meaninglessly harp on their elite tier status, there is utility to the basic idea, which places the largest providers at tier 1 Marketers for one provider whose business is interprovider connectivity and brokerage have elected themselves tier 0, but the industry, thankfully, has ignored this term There is a regrettable tendency for the sales team of one provider to try to convince the consumer that whatever their competitor s tier, they are at a higher one Emphasizing that the distinctions have not been formalized, the usual definition of a tier 1 provider includes the following:
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The provider obtains all its route information from bilateral peering or its own internal routing system It never buys transit The provider either owns or operates a high-speed continental or intercontinental backbone When the term tier 1 emerged, such backbones needed DS3 speed, but OC-3 or faster is more appropriate today Recently, Cable and Wireless raised industry eyebrows by requiring their peers to have a minimum backbone speed of OC-48 The provider has 24-h routing engineering/operation support available, at least to peer providers The provider is present in at least two major exchange points, and preferably five or more This does not preclude additional bilateral peering
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A practical, although unfortunately circular, definition is that tier 1 providers principally connect to other tier 1 providers, or to their own customers Tier 2 providers have largely been absorbed into tier 1 providers, but they typically are regional networks differing from tier 1 providers principally with respect to geographic scope The classical tier 2 provider was one of the original NSFNET regional networks Things become much less clear below tier 2, although tier 3 is sometimes considered a metropolitan or similar local area provider that does have multihomed uplinks, while tier 4 is an access provider without multihomed uplinks
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