Manager of Google's Asia-based Network Deployment Team Lectures on the Internet Backbone

David Ulrich, Asia-Pacific Regional Manager at Google spoke with Dr. Sean Burns' ICT 390: Systems Administration with Linux class about fiber optics and the internet backbone. Ulrich oversees all Asia-based Network Deployment teams that are responsible for building the Google network across India, Asia, and Australia. 

His team builds Google's Internet, connecting over 4 billion people to the web each day.  

In his presentation, Ulrich discussed the following: 1) the state of the Internet as it relates to Google and the industry, 2) technical aspects about building networks, and 3) competition among the big players regarding cloud computing. 

The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we've ever had. -Eric Schmidt 

Ulrich explained the basics of acquiring network connections. For example, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) like Windstream and Time Warner Telecommunications take electrical signal and convert it into light. See below for the full flowchart from user to datacenter. 

Google has one of the largest networks in the world. Ulrich explained that Google's mission is to drive network connections to consumers faster than any other competitor. The organization does not want to rely on a competing network to deliver good performance. If you are on YouTube and your video stutters, then you are going to log off. 

Logging off means no money. So by getting you on to our [Google] network as soon as possible we can provide you a guaranteed network connection that will give you what you need instantly and a better experience. 

Terrestrial Cable Systems

There are two ways to move information - by land and by ocean. The latter involves network facilities like In Line Amplifier Huts (ILA), and data centers. Collocations are a peering location for ISPs and content providers to house core routing and transport add/drop or end point equipment. ILAs house equipment that amplifies the optical signal of long haul fiber networks. Data centers primarily house servers and all terminal equipment like core routers. 

The aforementioned network facilities mentioned above are represented by all red and yellow dots in the right-hand photo. The red lines connecting each of the network facilities are representative of the "Level 3" fiber network. 

Types of underground installation that involve outside plant fiber (OPF) include trenching, plowing, and boring. Aerial fibers are the preferred method as its both fast and cost-effective. Types of aerial fiber installation include self-supporting, lashing, wrapping, and aerial ducts. 

Submarine Cable Systems

On the other hand, information can be moved via submarine cable systems. Google is currently managing 26 projects that involve submarine cable systems. 

Submarine cable can span as long as 13,000 miles under water. 

Submarine cables are usually armored, so that even animals like sharks can not bring down the Internet. Some common failure types for aerial, underground, and submarine fiber installations include things like gunshots, rodents, digging, dredging, and earthquakes. 

Check out this video of a shark attack on a subcable. 

The Internet is brittle and fragile and too easy to take down. It's a conduit for criminal activity. We need international treaties to prosecute the bad guys, but we don't have them. - Vint Cerf 

The future of the Internet, as explained by Ulrich is the cloud. He said that the cloud can provide better application performance since it acts like a home desktop for users to store information. 

According to Synergy Research, Amazon owns a third of the cloud market share. To that end, Google has less than 5 percent, but has doubled its capacity spending for cloud infrastructure since 2015. 

  • The total cloud market is estimated to be a $1 trillion industry.
  • Amazon is approaching $10 billion yearly revenue. 
  • About $1 trillion is untapped! 


About ICT 390: Systems Administration with Linux 

The course provides an introduction to the installation, administration, and maintenance of a Linux server within an information technology environment and for the purposes of providing user, email, web, and network services for an organization. Students will learn how to use the Linux command line and manage system users, install and configure new services and software, upgrade the system, and maintain good security policies. To take this course, students are required to own their own laptop or desktop (no more than five years old) and have full administration rights of their systems. The professor of this course is Dr. Sean Burns. Click to view his profile in our faculty directory