Robert Kisteleki

The Role of Aggregators in RIPE Atlas

Robert Kisteleki

3 min read


To enable organisations to provide value to the wider community by incorporating RIPE Atlas to their offerings, we’d like to introduce the concept of RIPE Atlas “aggregators”. In this article, we explain why and call on the community for feedback.

A recent discussion on the MAT mailing list highlighted the fact that some users of RIPE Atlas “channel” measurement requests from their own clients to RIPE Atlas, and then present the results back to their clients. This may happen for commercial reasons, both in for-profit and non-profit cases.

According to the RIPE Atlas Terms and Conditions:

“Measurements can be requested either by using the RIPE Atlas Portal or the Atlas API command, authenticated with the key generated by the User”. (art 1).

A user is defined as “a person who has access through their personal credentials to the RIPE Atlas Portal and API and may perform Measurements…” (art 1). This means that “hiding” one’s clients behind a single account of an organisation is not allowed.

RIPE Atlas aggregators

We recognise that asking for all the clients of a RIPE Atlas partner to have RIPE Atlas credentials (and credits) when they are only using RIPE Atlas indirectly is impractical, if not impossible. However, these organisations can also provide value to the wider community by incorporating RIPE Atlas to their offerings. In its current form the system cannot differentiate between regular users and aggregators.

Therefore we’d like to introduce the explicit concept of “aggregators” to the service. Aggregators would be understood as RIPE Atlas users who provide the means for third-parties to conduct measurements using our measurement network. There would be some requirements associated with this:

  • They would need to explicitly identify the account they use for this purpose.
  • They would need to separate their “own use” of RIPE Atlas from the aggregator role - i.e. if an organisation uses RIPE Atlas for their own NOC staff as well as offer services to their clients, these would need to be separate accounts in the service.
  • They would need to provide identification of their clients towards RIPE Atlas. The exact form of this needs to be defined, but it should be unique to their clients (some ID, hash of an email address, obfuscated IP address, …)
  • Perhaps (TBD) they should even step up as official sponsors of RIPE Atlas.

This does not affect other properties of the commercial use rules (e.g. the need for attribution).

With this change, we expect that:

  • The role of an aggregator is clarified, and we can consistently apply the conditions this implies.
  • The community can be made aware of this feature and its users.
  • RIPE Atlas can keep accurate statistics about the real number of its users, including clients of aggregators, and the amount of activity these cause in the system.

Please send us your feedback

We are interested in hearing from the RIPE community on this idea of allowing aggregators to use RIPE Atlas. Please share your thoughts on the RIPE NCC Forum or the RIPE Measurements and Tools Working Group mailing list.


You may also like

View more

About the author

For many years I have been the leader of the Research and Development team at the RIPE NCC leading a dedicated team of thinkers to support the RIPE community by providing network research, data analysis and prototype tool development and services including RIPE Atlas and RIPEstat. As of 2023, I'm working as a principal engineer in order to assist the CTO and the RIPE NCC's information services.

Comments 0