10-11-2015 Author: Rajat Category: BGP AND PROBLEM OF ARBITRARY NUMBERS
Technical trouble immobilized major websites like eBay.com and telegraph.co.uk in second week of August to be more precise 12-Aug-2014, as the global number of "routes" through the internet hit 512,000, this number has been set as the arbitrary upper limit by many previous commercial routers.
BGP or Border Gateway Protocol :
After investigating the scenario, Analysts have zeroed on the problem to a little-known, but very critical part of the `nuts and bolts` of the web called the BGP or Border Gateway Protocol. BGP allows large networks and internet firms to propel information to each other via hundreds of thousands of compound paths; therefore Border Gateway Protocol or BGP is fundamentally the `route map` of the web.
Experts have warned tribulations, which brought down websites such as eBay and other major sites including telegraph.co.uk and password manager service LastPass (due to which customers were locked out of their accounts), could become a regular occurrence, as the internet effectively runs out of space. eBay was flooded with grievance and complaint call from traders, with many asking for compensation as traders relied completely on eBay for their business.
It is estimated; Technical faults possibly can cost the economy millions in lost sales, because of the reason that parts of the web are either principally "full" or out-of-date.
Routers and Arbitrary Numbers:
When we visit a website, data from that site bounces all over the world, through machines belonging to different type of organizations and companies. To make this happen, machines which are called routers (huge commercial versions of what we have at home) maintain a table of known, trusted routes through the ever-expanding tangled web.
Now we have come to the point where several older routers are struggling to manage. Their processors are not powerful enough and memory is also too small. As use of tablets and smart-phones increases, allowing more people to access the web, most of the times. That means routers need to be upgraded so that they can cope with the extra traffic. Older hardware was not at all designed with bigger tables in mind. Numerous of them have a strict 512,000 route limit, which was put in place by programmers many years ago. These machines reached arbitrary upper limit of 512,000 different routes, in second week of August i.e. on 12-Aug-2014.
As these machines struggle when they reach their upper route limit, the consequence is that ISPs faces recurring outages, hosting companies have to tackle with major issues and websites either slow down or go down.
James Gill, chief executive of internet traffic monitoring firm GoSquared, said: "This definitely won`t be the last we hear of BGP outages." The problem is partly to do with computers relying on out-dated IP addresses - the unique code given to each computer – Mr. Gill added, with the old, numbers-only system only gradually being replaced by the alpha-numeric IPv6 system which allows more combinations. "In that sense, it would be right to describe the internet as full because they are running out of IP addresses to go round," he said.
Dr Joss Wright, a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, said: "It`s really a case of the routers being over-loaded due to more and more devices, and more and more fragmented internet landscape of lots of little networks." Routers were increasingly unable to cope with the increased traffic, Dr Wright said, in the same way as a human brain would not cope with remembering "all the back streets" on a long journey.
To Sum it Up It will cost huge firms such as eBay, millions of pounds for upgrading all of their hardware. Business analysts, say that a recurrence of such network concern might cost millions in lost trade for other businesses and online retailers that depend heavily on the internet. This crisis has been projected for years, but substituting these machines is very substantial and expensive task. It will take place as time has come now, as the BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) issues are causing such large problems- but not overnight.