Among Internet users, it is probably the most frequently asked question. Not just by consumers who want to browse to their Facebook page, but also by enterprise users sending packets to different servers. When we receive a comment like this, the Fusix NOC will be certain to ask: ‘Well, how is your routing?’
Every packet sent, is following a specific route. Your router steers it into a specific direction, the next router does the same, and so on, until the packet reaches the destination. The receiving party sends back an answer through the route that they choose: sometimes that’s simply the reverse route of the one that your packet took, but most of the time it isn’t. The longer a packet is under way, the ‘slower’ the Internet seems. How do you know what route the packet is taking?
A few days ago, we held a session about traceroute in the Fusix office, free of charge for all customers. All of the visitors had used the utility called ‘traceroute’ before. With this you can see the path a packet takes across the Internet and the latency (“ping time”) the packet experiences doing so. But few visitors knew exactly how to interpret the results of traceroute. In order to explain, we first looked at how traceroute actually works: it sends packets with increasing TTLs, observing where the ICMP TTL Exceeded messages come from.
It keeps sending these packets until the final destination sends back something other than ICMP TTL Exceeded, and the traceroute is finished. So with traceroute you can check how long a packet takes to reach its destination and which route it takes. That tells you a lot about how routers are configured and why your connection seems slow.
To be honest, interpreting a traceroute requires a lot of experience. In order to share our networking experience with our customers, we organize sessions in our office. We just had one on traceroute the other week and it was a big success. Using examples from our NOC tickets, we showed our customers what latencies to expect between Amsterdam and London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt, or Amsterdam and Hong Kong. More importantly, we showed our customers how to use our tools to optimize things.
Since we have so much experience dealing with network operations and one afternoon is hardly enough, we will be hosting more of these sessions. If you’re interested in joining our next session (which will be about anti-DDOS), just let us know.
This way you will be able to answer one of the most asked questions ever when it comes to the Internet. Even better: you will be able to show your customers and friends why and offer a solution to improve your connections and services. That is what we all want, right?