June 9, 2007 Imagine trying to explain the Internet to someone who had been in a cave for the last 30 years - it has no shape, no single clearly defined purpose and no beginning or end. In short, it's hard to visualize. Add "what's going on?" to the question and it becomes almost impossible to answer, hence the rise of Internet monitoring as a science in its own right. One impressive attempt to visualize the Web has just been announced by Global service provider Akamai which has created an interactive "Virtual Weather Map" that for the first time provides the public with a picture of what it calls the "real-time well being of the Internet". The map provides insight into why Web traffic may be slow or unstable and points out potential trouble spots by measuring a range of Internet conditions including attack traffic and traffic volume.
Akamai gathers the data from its more than 25,000 servers in over 750 cities and at times handles 20 percent of the world's total Web traffic. This data from billions of Internet transactions has been used to provide a set of visual tools, formerly only available to its customers, that show the status of traffic worldwide.
"Its easy to take for granted that the Internet will always be on, and always working," said Tom Leighton, co-founder and chief scientist of Akamai. “Reality shows us that there are many factors, on any given day, degrading the Internet’s performance. Some are malicious, and some are the result of the incredible amount of content being requested at any one time. Akamai is in a unique position to monitor the Internet in real-time, identifying where and when the Internet is being taxed. The services we provide, leveraging this data, are geared toward helping our customers overcome the challenges of the Internet so they can effectively conduct business online.”
Akamai is introducing three different data visualization tools:
Real-Time Web Monitor The Real-Time Web Monitor identifies the global regions with the greatest attack traffic, cities with the slowest Web connections (latency), and geographic areas with the most Web traffic (traffic density).
Attack Traffic: Displays real-time attack traffic by geo-region (state, province or country) based on data collected that includes the number of connections that are attempted, the source IP address, the destination IP address and the source and destination ports. The packets captured are generally from automated scanning trojans and worms looking to infect new computers scanning randomly generated IP addresses.
Latency/Speed: Measures network latency between most major cities via regularly automated tests and displays the current top ten worst performing cities.
Network Traffic: Monitors the amount of data being requested and delivered by geography at any given moment in time and displays the top ten regions with the current highest traffic volumes.
Visualizing Akamai This tool provides insight into the world's online behavior at any given moment including how much rich media is on the move, the sheer volume of data being requested, the number and concentration of worldwide visitors, and average connection speeds worldwide. At the time if writing the data showed an amazing 1.4 million hits per second globally.
Network Performance Comparison This tool is designed to show how Akamai identifies the fastest and most reliable path available between an Akamai edge server and an enterprise's origin data center to retrieve dynamic content.
Net Usage Indices These data visualization tools accompany Akamai’s existing Net Usage Indices measuring real-time online consumption of News, Retail and Music. The Indices do not release specific customer data, but show an aggregate view of web traffic to the sites that Akamai supports.