As of 2006, This doccument is entirely out of date. The servers are all different, the locations are all different, the network is all different. However, I decided to leave it up just in case anyone was exploring and trying to gain an insight in to the operations of a small ISP. -Jerry This is a work in progress. It changes as Netconnect adds/changes its equipment/systems.
Netconnect Technical Frequently Asked Questions
Q:What makes Netconnect work anyway?
A: Electricity, lots and lots of electricity.
Q:Where do you get your internet service from?
A:Backbone internet service is provided by UU.Net. They have the strictest uptime agreement in the industry, and have strict guarantees assuring throughput, and low latency.
Backbone service is also provided by Sprint. By having two independant backbone connections, we are able to bring the higest level of service to our users. This is called Multihoming
Q: What's latency?
A: The time it takes for one packet to transverse it¹s path over the internet. For a really good explanation of latency, please see:
http://future.futureone.com/~opeth/latency.txt AND http://future.futureone.com/~opeth/latency2.txt
Q:What is Multihoming?
A: Multihomingis the ability to use two independant internet connections, provided by two independant backbone providers. This allows us to have two separate backbone connections, should one provider experience problems. Also, it greatly improves performance for our customers, because our Cisco router is able to contain a routing table that allways contains the most direct route to any point on the entire internet. Every packet that travels though this router is delivered to it's destination via the most direct route. Also, any packets coming in from the internet will find their way via the most direct route.
Q:What happens when one of your internet connections fail?
A: Multihomingalso provides the ability to re-route internet traffic arround any points of failure. Once a failure has been detected, traffic outbound traffic instantly starts to re-route. As news of the failure travels from router to router on the global internet, all inbound internet traffic eventually re-routes. The entire process takes about 15-45 secconds to compleately re-route 100% of all internet traffic inbound to our network.
Q:What kind of server do you use?
A: There is no One internet server. An Internet Service Provider is a collection of many different servers, all specializing in one or two tasks, and interacting with each other, and end users, to provide a collection of services. For example, to view this web page, 4 different Netconnect servers had to work together to deliver this page to your computer screen.
Netconnect's internal backbone is powered by a core of Cisco Routers. Every Router used by Netconnect has a Cisco logo on it. Our smallest Cisco router is a 2511, our largest, a 7507. Data routes internally on a fully meshed network between all of our POPs, so if any connection fails, data can be rerouted in a matter of milliseconds. Once the problem that caused the failure is corrected, data then assumes the optimal route again.
Cisco 2900 Fast Ethernet Switches keeps all the Ethernet traffic moving freely and without congestion. All routers, internet servers, and co-located servers are directly connected to this high-performance switch, via 100Mbps full-duplex Fast Ethernet.
56K V.90 Dial in service is provided by Lucent Portmaster 3's
56K V.92 is provided by Cisco AS5300s.
33.6 Dial in Service is provided by Livingston/Lucent Portmaster 2's
WWW, FTP, DNS, SMTP/POP3 is all conducted on RISC based PowerPC Macintosh Servers.
Q:Do you backup the computers that store my web pages, and Email?
A: Yes, however, backups aren't enough, and when uptime it essential, RAID is needed to insure the availability and integrity of data, even when hard disks have failed.
Every server that has user data on it uses a full RAID subsystem.
A:RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. It's essentially several hard disks that are tied together by a controller, to act as one large hard drive. If one of the individual hard disks fail, the entire RAID unit continues to function normally, and the failed drive can be replaced without causing downtime, or data loss.
Q:What do you do when the power goes out?
A: Make more power, of course! Power Protection is provided by APC, and SmartUPS 2200s. Workstations are protected by smaller individual APC backups. In areas where generators arn't on site, runtimes in the 5-8 hour range allow us plenty of time to bring a standby generator on site.
Q:What about when your APC's batteries' run out?
A: Protection against prolonged power outages is provided by TWO on site generators. One installed, one portable. We take no chances with power outages. The generators easily keep the servers, and the air conditioning operating indefinitely.
Q:How do you know when one of your servers/routers/internet lines/power backups/modem servers stops working?
A:The Network Operations Center is monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, internally, as well as from an external source. A technician is on call at all times. (Even at 3AM, on Christmas Day)
Q:What is the Network Operations Center?
A:That is the heart of Netconnect. All the main servers are located there. It's currently located at 117 East First St., in Monticello, Iowa. The only things not located there, are the remote modem servers that Netconnect uses to serve other towns.
Q:Why don't you have a local dailup number for my town?
A: Check the list of local dial up numbers to make sure. It is very expensive to bring internet service into an area. It's what prevents any Tom, Dick, or Harry (No offense if your name is Tom, Dick, or Harry) from bringing really bad internet service into every town in the USA.
Q:What if I have more questions?
A: Email me. info at n-connect.net.
Q:Why isn't the above email listed with an @ synbol in it?
A:To prevent email harvesters from picking up that email address, and using it to send me SPAM.
Q:When was the last time you updated this web page?
A: This web page was last updated on 5/3/2002, at 18:37, when it was 57 degrees outside.
Q:How many people have seen this page?
A:As of 2/20/2000, have seen this page.