Tubes: Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Bloom is a fascinating book which describes fully the evolution of the internet, as well as the inner workings comprised of major data centers, data warehouses, fiber optics cables, terminals, routers and switches. Tubes literally goes into the internet inner workings and flips on the lights.
Bloom gets into the details of the architecture. For instance, there is a ten thousand mile undersea cable about two thumbs wide connecting Africa to Europe. The transpacific cables link Singapore Telecom, Swisscom, Qatar Telecom and New Zealand Telecom to mention just a few of the linkages. These internet exchanges transport packets of information to delivery destinations as cheaply as possible. The scope of the internet branches out from university environments to computer companies, law firms, manufacturers and small businesses. The author explains that the data centers are kept cold because of the tremendous heat generated by the computer equipment. For this reason, environmental controls are so important in engineering facility operations.
Now, the internet connections are on multiple levels according to Bloom. Connectivity is global; however, the infrastructure is connected locally. This architecture has created a phenomenon called peering. Peering is the arrangement of traffic exchange between internet service providers (ISPs). Peering is more cost effective because networks have common relationships amongst themselves due to the tremendous growth in traffic. Speeds have increased tremendously. For instance, a bit crosses a three foot cube router in just five nanoseconds.
Tubes explains how the internet got started and where the technology is headed. The presentation is understandable for a general readership. A strength of the work is that readers develop a more in depth understanding of the technological capabilities of the internet and the infrastructure necessary to process large volumes of traffic expeditiously.