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Unexpected Peering Connections: Identifying Distant Cloud Peering

Dr. Esteban Carisimo, AquaLab, Department of Computer Science, Northwestern University

Event Details

Monday, October 30, 2023
4 p.m.

The emergence of large cloud providers in the last decade has transformed the Internet that resulted in a growth of the number of datacenters, points of presence, and consequently network peers. Despite the availability of closer peering locations, networks continue to peer with cloud providers at distant locations, traveling thousands of kilometers. Through a cloud-based traceroute campaign, our findings show that networks travel an average of 8897 kilometers beyond the nearest computing facility to engage in such peering. This intercontinental peering trend is observed across all continents, with a significant portion of internet populations choosing to peer with cloud providers in North America, particularly the United States. We examine characteristics of networks engaged in distant peering, including the use of different Autonomous Systems (ASes) for peering and serving users and the involvement of state-owned providers. We discuss practical reasons for this practice, including factors such as cost-effective routing, improved peering opportunities, and access to  content. The implications of these findings extend to content delivery, digital sovereignty, cybersecurity, and the strategic value of submarine cable infrastructure.

Bio: Esteban Carisimo is a Postdoctoral Researcher at AquaLab, a group in the Department of Computer Science at Northwestern University. His research focuses on diverse aspects of the Internet topology, including IXPs, CDNs, transit diversity, network congestion and interdisciplinary approaches to these topics. Prior to joining Northwestern, he obtained Doctoral (2020) and Engineering (2014) degrees from Universidad de Buenos Aires, where he was also appointed as Adjunct Professor at the Department of Computer Science of the School of Engineering between 2020 and 2021.