Thinking About Network Diagrams For the Internet

Recently the Telco 2.0 guys provided a biz model map which I found very interesting. The map has 2 dimensions: Technical Vertical Integration (y-axis) vs Commercial Vertical Integration (x-axis). The first thing I noticed was the big Broadband bubble “firmly” placed on (0,0). Ouch ❗ The next thing I noticed were all the possibilities for “Vertical Integration”. This is great news for those in the telco food chain. I sincerely hope that network operator’s can tap into these “verticals”.

Telco 2.0 blog operator biz model map (Figure 1: source Telco 2.0)

This “abstract” diagram also gave me a little ego booster ’cause I’ve long advocated a shift in how to draw network diagrams for the Internet. Around five years ago I started drawing the Internet as a stack (figure 2), the old style physical network diagrams (figure 3) gave too much importance to the “Physical Network”. I knew then that I was on to something because many of my colleagues really really hated it 👿 They kept telling me that telco’s will never let that happen. As the Telco 2.0 guys show with their diagram …. this has happened — Broadband is a horizontal market and it sits at (0,0) on their map. Most of the telco initiatives have been along the lines of “big QoS” level vertical segmentation (shown in Figure 4). I think this won’t work. I do believe that there are room for many “vertical” slivers that the telco 2.0 guys illustrate so well.

Figure 2: Basic Internet as Logical Stack | source: me


Here I note that few Application providers own their own transport and/or access networks. I think this is really changing fast with all the “rumours” about Google’s NOCs and Core Networks. Of course Cringely went right over the top with his speculation on this.

Being the Middle is not good for anyone. This is true for operators and equipment providers. Notice that most of Cisco’s recent acquistions ( WebEx, NeoPath, Reactivity, Five Across, and IronPort )have been focussed on “hosting applications” or “hosted applications”. They are actively moving to operate on the top layer of the stack.

Figure 3: Old Style Physical Network Diagram | source: me


Figure 4: Example: Vertical Segmentation via Qos | source: me

— The stack diagram is very useful in describing the current issues. Think “Network Neutrality” using the diagram below. Pretty easy.



4 thoughts on “Thinking About Network Diagrams For the Internet”

  1. * Exactly — No one cares about the Network … the “user” really wants a Giant LAN or even better the “George Gilder” or “Bill St Arnaude” fiber to your nervous system network.
    * This is why the middle will become more “fibrous” with progressively less “packet processing” ( more stupid )… but the “edge gear” in Data Center and Appliances will become monstrously complicated ( example iPhone has 5+processors)

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