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Workshop on Internet Measurements at AFRINIC-29

The Research and Innovation department organised a full day workshop on Internet Measurements at AFRINIC-29, in Hammamet, Tunisia, in which 25 engineers and students from different African organisations and companies actively participated.The workshop was organised in two parts with a half day dedicated to presentations on previous and ongoing measurement research in Africa and the second half of the day was dedicated to tutorials on Measurement Lab and RIPE Atlas.

Roderick Fanou from CAIDA/UC San Diego, started by presenting his research work on the causes of Interdomain congestion in the African IXPs, paper which was previously published at ACM IMC 2017. The goal of this work is to investigate the prevalence, causes, and impact of congestion on the African IXP substrate. The study suggests the need for ISPs to carefully monitor the provision of their peering links, so as to avoid or quickly mitigate the occurrence of congestion. This presentation provided good insight on how congestion at an IXP can impact performance.

The second presentation from Musab Isah (AFRINIC), provided some details on the forthcoming AFRINIC Internet Measurement awareness survey, which intends to capture the Internet measurements needs of the different stakeholders on the African Internet community. It will also help to understand the state of Internet measurement platform deployment, availability and challenges such as “retainability”, bandwidth costs, etc. AFRINIC intends to launch the survey in the coming weeks and we expect network operators, regulators and end users to provide us their perspective. The end goal of the survey will be to redesign our platform distribution strategy, identify strategic partners/hosts and to develop the right training material to satisfy the needs of the community.

The third presentation was from Amreesh Phokeer (AFRINIC), on a recent research study that was done in collaboration with Research ICT Africa. The topic of the talk was about internet development in Africa (from a latency perspective) and the state of content use, hosting and distribution on the continent. It investigates how local content (new websites) popular in different African countries are mostly hosted remotely (85%), either in Europe or the US. With the exception of South Africa, where 50% of websites surveyed in South Africa were locally hosted. It was found that remote hosting adds considerable delay to the RTT because of the use of international links, but we also found that in certain cases, locally hosted websites have high delay characteristics mainly because of circuitous routing.

Following the above research work presentations, Johan ter Beest (RIPE NCC) introduced the RIPE Atlas platform and gave an overview of the latest features the RIPE Atlas team has been working on. A fourth version of probes are now available and the RIPE NCC will start to distribute them soon. The V4 probe would come without a USD disk, feature which will provide more stability and less failures. The RIPE NCC has also announced the launch of “VM Anchors” meaning that it would now be much easier to deploy Atlas anchors around Africa, as it would not be necessary to ship network equipment, should the hosts agree to offer VM capacity. From the backend side of things, the RIPE NCC is currently experimenting with the Google BigQuery platform.

After the above presentations, Georgio Bullen (Measurement-Lab) gave an introduction of the Measurement Lab (MLAB) platform from Google and how it can be leveraged to perform Open Internet Measurement. Google currently has 500+ servers in 130+ locations, which 32 servers in 9 locations in Africa. They explained the importance of such an open platform and how they have proved to be useful to companies, data journalists, academics, researchers and policy makers over the years. Currently most tests are run from end-user devices, for e.g. to measure the full route from consumer to content, to get the throughput and latency between the client and an MLAB server. Measurement data is saved on Google cloud and can be retrieved using the Google BigQuery platform. Georgia encouraged participants to subscribe to the MLAB discuss Google group so as to be able to access the BigQuery platform.

We wrapped up the day by running two short tutorials on both RIPE Atlas (ping and traceroute) and MLAB (BigQuery commands). For more information about the workshop and to have details about future workshops, please subscribe to the measurement-wg mailing list:

https://lists.afrinic.net/mailman/listinfo/measurement-wg

 

The recording of the workshop can be accessed from this link:

https://zoom.us/recording/share/xk2qpobqOFL3NiTPCrNy5nA9XYzDThkuWSc8Y547eYKwIumekTziMw

 

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