Ashburn, VA: Internet Infrastructure Resilience

Internet InfrastructureWe recently published our high level summary of work done in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security’s Regional Resiliency Assessment Program. The project was centered on the Ashburn, VA area’s Internet Infrastructure. You can read the full summary here.

Internet infrastructure is highly distributed among different private and public sector entities. Networks using TCP are highly resistant to failures when multiple paths from sender to receiver exist. TCP’s resilience has the potential to fail if a concentration of high-capacity routes between a particular sender and receiver become unavailable.

The geographical locality of such a large quantity of data centers and network routes in the Ashburn, VA area makes this concentration a concern. The New York Times recently published an article on the vulnerabilities and importance of the physical infrastructure that the Internet comprises. As Internet access increasingly becomes a critical dependency, the public is becoming more aware of its physical vulnerabilities. This recognition has made it imperative to study these vulnerabilities and develop strategies to improve their resilience.

Argonne National Laboratory supported the Department of Homeland Security’s Regional Resiliency Assessment Program (RRAP in its study of data center and internet resilience in Ashburn during its FY 2015 series of projects.  The properties that make this infrastructure resilient also make it difficult to gather data and conduct data-driven analysis of potential failures. It is in part owing to this difficulty in data collection that the Ashburn, VA project’s Key Findings focus on improving communication and information sharing. One thing is certain: as government and other critical infrastructure sectors begin to rely more heavily on data and network infrastructure for daily operations, studies of this type will only become more important. Read the full summary here.


This post was written by: Mike Thompson