...Dr Peering and the White Paper Process

Dear DrPeering -

Where do you get the information for the peering white papers ?  

How do you distinguish fact and fiction ? 

Are the white papers ghost written ? 

Do the Ask.DrPeering articles go through the same process as the white papers? 

Does writing the white papers make you an authority on peering?

--- interested parties

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Thanks for asking these questions.  Many of you have graciously contributed data points and insights to the Internet Peering white paper series --- let’s talk about how the information gets assimilated into the final white papers and peering articles for the community. 

White Paper Creation Process

The Internet Peering white papers are based on information pulled from some of the smartest networking people in the world.   These experts were absolutely essential to the creation of the documents - they contributed their time and knowledge by participating in the white paper process described next.

Creating an Internet Operations white paper involves the following stepwise refinement process, face-to-face, over lunches, dinners, socials and in some cases over beers at operations conferences around the world:

1) Find an Internet operations issue related to peering that (a) is important and interesting, and (b) has not been specifically documented before.

2) Discuss the issue with anyone who has insights to share, and document what is learned.  [ Fact from Fiction? The early drafts are based on conversations with only a few individuals and as a result, early phase white papers are rough and have errors in them. The next stage in the process tends to weed out at least the larger errors. 

3) Walk folks through what the previous folks have shared. These folks either validate the points of view, correct them, or add data where it is important to add information.  [ Fact from Fiction?  Indeed, peering is a highly politicized and often heated topic, so there are sometimes “religious” and/or diametrically opposed view points.  One person’s fact may sometimes be another’s fiction.  Because of this, it is important for the white papers to either highlight these differences or focus on the commonalities. ] 

4) Return to Step 2, stepwise refining until no objections are raised. This tends to be about 100 walk-throughs and takes six to eighteen months. After one hundred walkthroughs, the best way to explain a complex topic simply and clearly can emerge.

The end result is a white paper on a particular Internet Operations topic that pretty much represents the broader community mindset on a particular issue.  

5) Share back white paper to the community

Finally, present the research to a broader group (NANOG, RIPE, APRICOT, etc.) to gain final feedback and share the information back to the community.  After all, the community provided the content, so it makes sense that the broader community be provided free access to it as well. 

All of the content collected for the white papers is still freely available at the http://wwwDrPeering.net web site. 

Are the white papers Ghost Written? No,  I alone wrote my Internet Peering white papers.  It is important to note however that many of the underlying ideas are not my own -- the content is based on information collected from networking people around the world using the process described above.  

Do the Ask.DrPeering Articles go through the same process? Unfortunately no, the white papers process doesn’t work well for a monthly blog because there simply isn’t enough time.  These articles are based on conversations with networking folks, often at a private silicon valley lunches where techies get together to discuss such things.  As with the early stage white papers, these articles are based on a few conversations, so are more prone to errors.   So we continue to evolve this  process as we move to a moderated DrPeering discussion area and an advisors [at] DrPeering [dot] net support group. 

If bonafide errors are identified, we will and do fix them right away on-line -- in this way the articles have the advantage of being easier to update than when different versions of the white paper PDFs are floating around the net.

Expertise in Peering?  My expertise comes from over twenty years working on the Internet, writing the business plan for NANOG and chairing NANOG from 1995-1998, and then ten plus years of additional research in the area, assimilating data points not just from one perspective but from the varying perspectives of hundreds of peering coordinators, network engineers and architects from around the world.  Very few people in the world have researched the topic or have exposure to more different peering perspectives than I.  These papers are cited by academics and taught in universities around the world.  The challenge is working through all of the passionate opinions, fanaticism, etc. and in some cases highlighting both sides of a debate as in the “Great Debate - Private vs Public Peering” and “The Folly of Peering Ratios as a Discriminator” .  

Throughout this time, my role has been that of a neutral facilitator. I brought the Peering Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF) sessions back to NANOG and chaired seventeen of them in a row. To highlight different views on emerging peering topics, we launched the “Great Peering Debates” as part of the event. These sessions were fun, informal, well attended, and served the needs of the Peering Community.  I assisted with hundreds of peering introductions, helped pull together the aligned interests of the cable companies, the Tier 2 ISPs, and started the precursors to what eventually morphed into the PeeringDB and the Global Peering Forum. All of these activities required a neutral stance and an inclination to facilitate the discussions among the parties.  Over the decade, these activities provided me with a bird’s eye view of the Internet Peering Ecosystems that I have shared with the community in the form of the white papers.

I hope this helps -

Dr Peering 

DrPeering [at] DrPeering [dot] net


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