IP traffic has migrated away from telco backbones in the last five years and is now mostly carried by just 30 internet content and data center players, says a new study by Arbor Networks.
In what it says is the largest study ever of global commercial internet traffic, Arbor says traffic patterns have changed radically over the period of the report.
Five years ago, IP traffic was proportionally distributed across tens of thousands of enterprise-managed web sites and servers worldwide. Since then content has migrated to a “small number of very large hosting, cloud and content providers,” Arbor says.
Out of the 40,000 routed end sites in the internet, 30 large companies like Limelight, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and YouTube “now generate and consume a disproportionate 30% of all Internet traffic.”
The collapse of wholesale IP transit and the growth in advertisement-supported service have reversed the business dynamics between transit providers, consumer networks and content providers.
“Over the last five years, internet traffic has migrated away from the traditional internet core of 10 to 12 Tier-1 international transit providers. Today, the majority of internet traffic by volume flows directly between large content providers, datacenter/CDNs and consumer networks,” Arbor said.
As a result most Tier-1 networks have evolved their business models away from IP wholesale transit to focus on broader cloud and enterprise services, content hosting and VPNs and CDNs.
“This change in the internet business ecosystem has significant ongoing implications for backbone engineering, design of internet scale applications and research.”
Nicolas Fischbach, director of network architecture at US carrier COLT, said the changed IP interconnection environment had been evident to operators for some time.
He said “densely interconnected edge networks” meant more localized traffic exchange, but also means that “traffic passed to traditional transit networks is quite likely to be destined for non-local destinations – often escalating costs for the transit network and negatively impacting operating margins.”
Arbor said it would present its report in full on October 19.