Tubes: Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Bloom is a fascinating book which describes fully the evolution of the internet, as well as the inner workings comprised of major data centers, data warehouses, fiber optics cables, terminals, routers and switches. Tubes literally goes into the internet inner workings and flips on the lights.
Bloom gets into the details of the architecture. For instance, there is a ten thousand mile undersea cable about two thumbs wide connecting Africa to Europe. The transpacific cables link Singapore Telecom, Swisscom, Qatar telecom and New Zealand Telecom to mention just a few of the linkages. These internet exchanges transport packets of information to delivery destinations as cheaply as possible. The scope of the internet branched out from university environments to computer companies, law firms, manufacturers and small businesses. The author explains that the data centers are kept cold because of the tremendous heat generated by the computer equipment.
Now, the internet connections are on multiple levels according to Bloom. Connectivity is global; however, the infrastructure is connected locally. This architecture has created a phenomenon called "peering". Peering is the arrangement of traffic exchange between Internet service providers (ISPs). Peering is more cost effective because networks have common relationships amongst themselves due to the tremendous growth in local traffic. Speeds have increased tremendously. For instance, a bit crosses a three foot cube router in five nanoseconds.
Tubes: Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Bloom explains how the internet got started and where the technology is headed. The presentation is understandable for a general readership. A strength of the work is that readers develop a more in depth understanding of the technological capabilities of the internet and the infrastructure necessary to process large volumes of traffic expeditiously.
As I write this, The New York Times has been off-line for about 18 hours here. Some stories are being posted on the newspaper's Facebook page, but because of a hacker attack the main website remains down. This is a warning shot, according to some observers. Syrian hackers or hackers sympathic to the Syrian regime (and who call themselves the Syrian Electronic Army) are demonstrating what havoc they could wreak if Western powers follow through … more