Networking Pendulum

What was once old, is new again


One of the benefits of age is perspective. You notice that many of the “new” ideas are simply old ones that have come back into vogue, like the swing of the pendulum. The aptness of the metaphor is clear, as history demonstrates a tendency for human events to swing back and forth from one extreme to another.

We see this in politics (conservative vs liberal), we see this in fashion and in telecom networking. Early in my career, while still a systems engineer, I remember one of my first published articles being about the swing from companies using public networks based on X.25 packet protocol (like Datapac) to private networks using their own multiplexors and leased lines. (Note I had just moved from Bell Canada where I supported Datapac to General DataComm where we were selling muxes)

We’ve seen this pendulum swing between using public and private networks for a company WAN many times over the years. Leased private lines gave way to X.25 packet networks, which ceded ground to T1 or T3 networks (or fractional T1 like Megastream). Frame Relay, ATM and then the rise of MPLS, “Multiprotocol Label Switching”. Now we are seeing a challenger in the corporate networking world, SD-WAN, which uses the public Internet and extensive software to try to mimic and replace MPLS.

MPLS can be slow to implement, especially internationally, as it takes time to order and connect all of the connections, especially the final local Ethernet connections at each country. MPLS can also be expensive compared to DIA, Direct Internet Access. In MPLS’s favour, as with most private networks, is it’s inherent security, consistent latency, and guaranteed service levels and Quality of Service (QoS). For overseas voice circuits and critical enterprise data that is essential.

SD-WAN, based on the now ubiquitous public Internet, is now widely available, quickly deployable and seemingly less expensive. By using multiple business grade Internet connections (DIA which should be contention free) and some fancy software , it can approach the level of consistency of MPLS. Is it less expensive ? Well, vendors will make that case based on pure network costs, but soft costs of running and maintaining the equipment and connections have to be factored in.

The tension between secure and reliable private networks and less expensive shared public networks (like X.25, Internet and cloud) is one that has been going on for years, and watching this pendulum swing back and forth is something I find fascinating.

2019 Canadian ISP Summit – Day 1

I was looking forward to this event for months and Day 1 did not disappoint. Met up with many friends and customers within the first few minutes of arriving on Monday. And made new friends and contacts throughout the day . Thanks to TekSavvy for sponsoring my “office” at the show.

The keynotes on innovation and disruption in our Internet industry were very interesting. The talk about women in tech by Maryna Ivus of ICTC was very eye opening. She outlined StatCan numbers that show the number of women working in telecom fell from 35% in 1999 to 25% in 2019. Those numbers surprised and disappointed me as someone who has been in telecom all my adult life.

There was ample networking at this sold-out event; a cocktail reception sponsored by TorIX and QIX, a superb dinner at the CRAFT Beer Market by MBSI WAV and Cambium Networks and an after party by ADTRAN that I was smart enough to not attend . There are times I have to acknowledge my own limits ! Thank you to all the sponsors for making this event so special.

Day 2 has a full agenda with keynotes and panels on both the business of ISP’s and technical discussions. I will blog the highlights tomorrow after the Gala Dinner.

2019 Canadian ISP Summit

The Registration Desk for the 2108 Canadian ISP Summit

Monday, November 4th is the start of the 2019 Canadian ISP Summit to be held at the Toronto Mariott Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel. Designed for Internet Service Providers (large and small) from across the country, the Canadian ISP Summit is a conference that allows attendees to learn, grow and network.

It is put on by CNOC, The Canadian Network Operators Consortium Inc. There are three days filled with keynotes, panels, general sessions and lightening talks. There will be technical sessions, business related sessions and always some superb regulatory discussions. There are plenty of opportunities to network before and after sessions, during coffee breaks and meals as well as cocktail receptions and fabulous dinners.

Caught holding court at the TekSavvy booth, networking during the 2018 Summit

This show is one of my favourites. I have attended three of the last four ISP Summits and will be attending again this year. It gives me an opportunity to focus on the data side of AurorA’s business. International telecommunications is more than just voice termination; AurorA also provides international data services such as MPLS, Cloud Connectivity, SD-WAN and even Tier 1 Internet. The Amitel side has partnerships that can help ISP’s with merchant service and payment processing, billing systems, colocation at 151 Front Street and even business process outsourcing. The Summit energizes me, educates me and introduces me to industry people from all across Canada.

Once again we’ll be blogging from the conference. My goal is to post a summary each night of some of the more significant talks, discussion and events of the Summit that I feel would be relevant to you, my readers, specifically from an international telecom perspective.

Hopefully, I will see you live at the Canadian ISP Summit. If not, then check in here in November for my updates from #ISPSummit. If there is something specific you would like me to cover then leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter (@TimoVainionpaa)

SecTor 2019 Conference

Today I attended the Expo portion of the SecTor 2019 Conference.
It was a bit of a stretch for me, and it got me out of my comfort zone as it was not part of the usual telecom or ISP service provider type of show that I normally attend.

SecTor is Canada’s premier IT Security Conference. You may have heard of events like DefCon and Black Hat in the USA. SecTor brings the latest in information technology security to Canada, to showcase Canadian talent and perspective in InfoSec.

There were some Waterloo region companies present like eSentire and Blackberry. There were some companies that I do direct business with like Datex, showing their award winning DataStealth technology. And there were tons of other companies showcasing their wares and expertise at the Expo.

Timo with Mariann Utrosa, Business Development at Datex and DataStealth

Although I wasn’t able to attend the sessions, there were some fascinating ones in the guide including a live car hacking simulation . Apparently it is quite sobering to see how quickly and easily an automobile can be hacked !

If this sounds interesting to you, make plans to attend the SecTor 2020 conference. You can find more details here

Global Internet Phenomena

Sandvine produces the Global Internet Phenomena Report

It seems that each year that I went to the Canadian Telecom Summit, one of the highlights was Dave Caputo, the former CEO of Sandvine, giving a presentation with pearls of wisdom from their Global Internet Phenomena Report. That annual report was also then quoted in many other presentations as the authoritative source for what was happening on broadband networks around the world.

For example, back in 2012, Sandvine focussed on Social Networking and reported that Facebook was one of the top 4 applications on the Web and that over 50% of mobile devices communicated with Facebook each hour !

The 2019 Global Internet Phenomena Report was just released by Sandvine on Sept 10. Sandvine, a Waterloo company (forgive me some local cheerleading) has unparalleled visibility into the Internet industry with an installed base of over 2.5 billion subscribers worldwide across over 160 Tier 1 and Tier 2 fixed, mobile, WiFi and satellite operators. (note that China and India are not included in this data set)

So what is changing in how the world uses the Internet ? A lot !

Video is obviously king, but in ways that keep changing and evolving. Netflix led the way with streaming but now we are seeing more and more competitive streaming services; Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube and new ones coming from Disney, Apple, CBS and others. The big traditional cable and telco companies have been fighting back, trying to stop cord cutting with their own streaming offerings and video on demand.

How many different services will a consumer buy to replace their cable ? What do they do if the content they want is not on the services they are buying ? Well, the answer may be in this report as Sandvine is seeing a resurgence in BitTorrent traffic. The release of the final season of Game of Thrones on HBO , or the blockbuster movie Avengers:Endgame could be seen in the increase in BitTorrent traffic.

The big players in Web 2.0, the ones whose shares currently dominate the global stock markets are the FAANG ; Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google. Would it really be a surprise to find out that they also dominate the traffic on the Internet ?

Some other highlights from this edition of the report include:

  • Video is over 60% of the total downstream volume of traffic on the internet.
  • Netflix is 12.60% of the total downstream volume of traffic across the entire internet
  • Google is 12% of overall internet traffic, driven by YouTube, search, and the Android ecosystem.
  • Gaming traffic and gaming-related bandwidth consumption is increasing as gaming downloads, Twitch streaming, and eSports go mainstream.
  • BitTorrent is over 27% of total upstream volume of traffic
  • Facebook applications make up over 15% of the total internet traffic in APAC.

The report includes spotlights on the traffic share leaders for video, social networking, messaging, audio streaming, and gaming.

If you are interested, you can get a download of the report here

Co-Location versus the Cloud

Data Centre

Have you ever wondered “What exactly is Colocation”


The short answer is that a colocation centre is a data centre that provides shared space for network storage and interconnection. Rather than trying to build your own on-site facility to house all of your computing equipment, servers, routers etc. you house them in a colo centre to save the expense and hassles.


A colocation facility provides storage for your own equipment. The facility typically provides power, cooling, security, and intra-site connectivity, among other offerings.


So how does colocation differ from cloud computing?


Cloud computing is essentially dynamic hosting, where you share computing resources with other users that are allocated on-demand from the cloud provider’s servers.


Colocation, on the other hand, is the physical space in which you may operate your company-owned software and hardware. In the cloud computing scenario, the servers and other infrastructure are provided by the cloud provider (ie Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft’s Azure, Google, IBM etc)


In the coming weeks we will be blogging more about data networking, international MPLS circuits, virtual networks like SD-WAN and accessing cloud computing on demand globally.