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Introducing RIPE Atlas Anchors - Pilot Phase

Daniel Karrenberg — 31 Aug 2012
Contributors: Vesna Manojlovic
Bringing high-quality independent measurements to your network!

 

UPDATE: RIPE Atlas anchors became a production service in October 2013. You can find the most up-to-date information on the RIPE Atlas website . Please email atlas _at_ ripe _dot_ net for any feedback or questions about RIPE Atlas anchors.

Introduction

  • What path do real packets take from the edge towards my network? How is my network visible from the Internet edge?
  • Can I monitor this 24/7?
  • Can I get the measurement results published by a well-recognised and neutral organisation?

If these questions are interesting to you, read on!

RIPE Atlas Anchor Tattoo

Anchoring Probes

RIPE Atlas now consists of more than 1700 active small probes located mostly at the edge of the Internet. We are looking to expand that system with a number of fixed measurement targets, the RIPE Atlas Anchors. In the first instance the anchors would be willing and cooperating targets for measurements from the probes.

Currently all probes perform base-line measurements to global targets that provide information about the general health of a probe's own connection to the Internet. Root name servers are for instance such global targets. In order for RIPE Atlas to scale, the plan is to have all probes perform base-line measurements to a number of regional or local targets that are relatively close to them in the topology. In most cases it is not necessary to send a ping or traceroute around the entire globe in order to identify problems in local connectivity. Local connectivity is usually sufficient.

The results of these measurements will "anchor" the probe in the topology and show us any changes for that probe in relation to the anchoring point. In other words, anchor measurements will help us to understand individual disturbances of connectivity close to each probe and also disturbances of connectivity in the areas served by the anchors. RIPE Atlas anchors will also be well-known and cooperating targets for any other RIPE Atlas measurements, because they will be well-placed at hosts with sufficient bandwidth to support many incoming measurements. For this service to the community of other probe hosts, RIPE Atlas Anchors hosts will be earning additional credits.

Possible RIPE Atlas Anchors in Europe

Figure 1: Possible locations of RIPE Atlas Anchors

Jumbo Probes

Soon after initial deployment, the RIPE Atlas Anchors will also become RIPE Atlas probes themselves. They will have a much higher capacity to perform measurements than the small probes. These so called jumbo probes will be available for scheduling outgoing measurements to all the other users that can perform User Defined Measurements (UDMs). But they will also be useful to all other probe hosts and RIPE NCC members, because everyone, not only RIPE Atlas anchor hosts, will be able to use these anchors to perform measurements. This way anchors will complement the small probes at the network edge with bigger probes inside the network.

Why host a RIPE Atlas Anchor?

Hosting a RIPE Atlas Anchor will direct the power of entire RIPE Atlas measurement service towards your location: by using the RIPE Atlas Anchor as the regional target, your organisation will benefit from all the probes that are topologically close to you performing base-line measurements towards your network. You can use this to show to your customers that the quality of your Internet reachability is good.

The benefit is greater since the measurements are performed by an neutral organisation. The RIPE NCC will be operating all the services on the RIPE Atlas Anchor, thus guaranteeing the measurements are executed by an independent entity; all results of those measurements carry the credibility of an impartial institution.

By using the RIPE Atlas Anchor as a jumbo probe, the anchor host will be able to perform significantly more customised measurements (UDMs) from the anchor towards targets of your choice - since hosting a RIPE Atlas Anchor will earn the host many more credits.

Implementation

RIPE Atlas Anchors will be available to RIPE NCC members only. The RIPE Atlas Anchor services will be operated by the RIPE NCC on hardware supplied, owned and hosted by the member. In order to limit complexity and to save operating costs this hardware will have to meet very specific specifications, especially regarding out-of band access and manageability. For the pilot deployment we will specify one specific server configuration with the idea to replace the hardware after 36 months of operation. The current configuration is estimated to cost around 3000 EUR. The division of responsibilities between the member and the RIPE NCC will be covered by a formal agreement that builds on the experience we gained with the operation of K-root instances, Test Traffic Measurement (TTM) boxes and Routing Information Service (RIS) route collectors.

Other RIPE NCC Services

Other RIPE NCC services can be made available on the same hardware on request of the member. Initially we will offer a k.root-servers.net instance serving queries from the member network. Other such services will be developed later; examples we are considering are local instances of the RIPE whois service (near real time mirroring or NRTM) and local presentations of network measurement data. Once the hardware is deployed and operated, the incremental cost of bringing more RIPE NCC services closer to the member will be low.

How to get a RIPE Atlas Anchor?

We are looking for a small number of pilot hosts from the RIPE NCC membership for deployment to begin in October 2012. This is then expected to become a regular service in the second quarter of 2013. You will provide the hardware according to our specifications, install it and provide remote hands. We will install and operate the RIPE Atlas Anchor service and provide you with access to the measurement results to and from the anchor. We will also provide RIPE Atlas credits to you, so that you can run your own measurements from all RIPE Atlas probes.

Japanese Garden Figure 2: RIPE Atlas Anchors are like rocks in an ocean of RIPE Atlas probes

If you are interested to participate in the pilot deployment and if you are a RIPE NCC member already, please contact Vesna Manojlovic at becha _at_ ripe _dot_ net or Daniel Karrenberg at daniel.karrenberg _at_ ripe _dot_ net . Please also don't hesitate to leave any comments or questions under the article.

1 Comment

Vesna Manojlovic says:
26 Sep, 2012 09:45 AM
For those who are interested in following the updates on the Atlas Anchors pilot, there is a publicly archived mailing list. The list is also open for subscription, please join: https://www.ripe.net/mailman/listinfo/atlas-anchors-pilot
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