The faster the better: How we assess network performance for end-users all around the world

NetworkMap2015_LSW_Web740Moving from your on-prem IT infrastructure to the cloud is a challenge but picking the right cloud hosting partner is even a bigger challenge.  How do you find a provider that recommends “the right stuff” and helps you migrate but who also runs a cloud infrastructure in which your applications run really well? At Leaseweb we have a laser sharp focus on finding the right balance between performance, security and the economics of our services. This blog focuses on how we improve the performance and end user experience of Leaseweb hosted services by pro-actively monitoring network performance as perceived by eyeballs and ISPs around the world. At the end of the day, platform performance is important but network performance has an even bigger impact on the end-user experience.

To connect Leaseweb’s dedicated/virtual servers, private clouds and CDN services to the Internet we connect to multiple global Internet backbones in the Leaseweb data centers (by buying “IP Transit” services from these “carriers”) and we connect directly to a large number of “eyeball networks” (Internet Services Providers connecting consumer and business users – “eyeballs” – to the Internet) and other cloud and hosting providers by “peering” with these networks. With some of these networks we have dedicated connections between our network equipment and theirs (“Private Peering”), with others we connect via an Internet Exchange (“Public Peering”). Some of these peerings are in the same city as the Leaseweb data center (“local peering”), others are in other cities (“remote peering”). Having these “peerings” gives us more control over the capacity and routing of traffic to those eyeball networks and therefore has a positive impact on network performance (latency, packet loss) – and thereby on the experience of the end-user. To establish remote peering we have deployed the Leaseweb Global Network which allows us to connect “peers” in over 50 locations (“Points of Presence” – PoPs) in Europe, USA and Asia and we are connected to over 30 Internet Exchanges. The Global Network comprises hundreds of 10Gbps links from the Leaseweb data centers to the remote peering locations in combination with Colocation services (racks in remote PoPs which host our equipment), Internet Exchange ports and Cross Connects (cabling in those data centers). See if you want to know more. The combination of being connected to these global Internet backbones and running our own global network enables us to always find the best route at the best cost level. But how do we measure how eyeballs perceive the performance of our services? And how do we compare to other cloud hosting providers?

Early 2015 we decided to step up our traffic performance monitoring capabilities and to evaluate providers and platforms that could help us. We evaluated various commercial services but, as we had been participating in the RIPE atlas Project since 2011 (, we decided to utilize those capabilities. RIPE is the European Internet Registrar, serving members by delivering a high quality registry and supporting the core Internet infrastructure in the region. The RIPE NCC (Network Coordination Centre) is building the largest Internet measurement network ever made. RIPE Atlas employs a global network of over 9000 probes in almost every country in the world (“dongles” connected to computers) that measure Internet connectivity and reachability, providing an unprecedented understanding of the state of the Internet in real time. We decided to support the project by deploying RIPE Atlas Anchors (“super probes”) in all Leaseweb Data Centers around the world – making these available to RIPE and to all users of the Atlas platform.

We are committed to supporting the RIPE Atlas project further and to use the platform to continuously monitor and improve network performance. Why? Firstly, of course, to ensure that end-users of Leaseweb customers perceive a great service but also because we like speed and we like competition.

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