The NOIA Network System And How It Stabilizes Network Performance with William B. Norton
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The NOIA Network System And How It Stabilizes Network Performance with William B. Norton
I’m here with Bill Norton, Cofounder of NOIA. Bill, thanks so much for joining us.
How’s it going? It’s fantastic to be here.
I’ve been hearing a little bit about NOIA. How does that work? What is that called?
It’s Network Optimize Internet Acceleration. All of us are using the public internet and it’s a way for us to share bandwidth in occasions when things aren’t working properly or in order to ensure a better internet path and what you get by default internet routing.
It’s like when you’re in an Uber and they use Waze. You’re like, “Why are you going this other way?” They’re like, “I’ve anticipated there’s a blockage up ahead. We’re going to hop over onto a side street.” Is it something like that?
That’s a very apt analogy. Waze gets all of this information by keeping track of where the cars are on the highway. When the cars aren’t moving on a highway, that’s a pretty good indication that there’s some congestion. The technology that we have will monitor the ongoing internet session and when we see a path that drops or congestion artifacts, we’ll take a look at the alternative paths to get there. As Waze will constantly measure where these cars are on the highway to detect that there’s congestion and alternative routes. We are monitoring the internet path that’s being used and the alternative paths that are available by constantly measuring every second or two. We’ll know in advance whether this is going to be a good path for you or not.
How long do you feel it’s going to be until you’re deploying this technology?
We have a couple of months of pipeline to go through. We’ll have a public release that people can download. It’s open-source software. It will download and run on a dock or on your machine. In that way, it will provide you the additional routing capabilities that aren’t inherent in the public internet. You see the public internet will send traffic along the shortest path regardless of whether there’s network congestion like we’re experiencing on this video call or not. A router will happily keep on sending that traffic as fast as it can across a congestive link. What we’re saying is we’re using a technology called segment routing that allows us to instead force traffic along a different path. Instead of going directly to you during times of congestion, we’ll send that traffic to a segment router that will find an alternative path to get to that final destination. In doing so, you can bypass congestion or if you prefer, you can simply send all of your traffic along with the best lowest latency, lowest packet loss path, which is different than how the public internet works now.Cryptocurrency is there to ensure fairness. Click To Tweet
How did you even think this up? You’ve been deep in tech for a long time, but how did this occur to you? Do you remember the moment where you were like, “This is a thing? I need to go make this or write about this?”
The technology was assumed to already exist. How does it work? Through a process of reverse engineering, how this type of system probably works? That’s how the genesis came up. I started modeling this using Cloud Virtual Machines around the world to see how often will these glitches pop up. When there are glitches where we would prefer to go through the segment routing path, how long of a duration will that last? That’s the math that we started doing. It starts looking like there are large periods of time, minutes to hours when traffic will be in this weird state. I’ll give you an example. I was measuring traffic between Tokyo and Ashburn, Virginia. I’m going to make up these numbers because I don’t remember the actual numbers. For the longest time, it was like 174 milliseconds and then it jumps up to 225 milliseconds and stayed there for an hour.
It came back down after a couple of hours to 174 milliseconds. I traced it down as to the core root cause. It turns out there’s some optimization happening by the Cloud providers that shifts traffic to load balance. Unfortunately, my traffic that diverted to a more secure path to get to the destination. This is a great example where our software can detect, “The latency got much worse. What are the other paths?” That will stabilize your network performance across the board. The coolest thing is that this is all happening, but all of us collectively leveraging the rich diversity than all of the transit providers in the world are providing to us. It’s the internet routing doesn’t always find all those alternative paths. That’s what we were providing.
You wrote this white paper. That was the big splash of this concept, even though you thought the concept had already been explored. It was being acted on. There’s a crypto aspect to this.
The idea is that you are sharing your spare capacity, your spare network bandwidth. By doing so, you’re earning coins by relaying the traffic for others. You can use those coins when your internet connectivity is not working out quite so well. You can spend those coins in order to use that better internet path. The cryptocurrency is there to ensure fairness. There are some companies that probably don’t want to relay traffic for others. Maybe there are security concerns. Maybe there are some compliance reasons. For those companies, they may buy NOIA coins and use those coins in the event when there’s a problem.
Another interesting application of this NOIA network system is for SLA credits. If you have a problem, you can contact your ISP and complain, maybe turn in some data, they’ll investigate it. Maybe they’ll give you some credit for the downtime, that’s not what you want. What you want is remediation. That’s what this thing provides. If the ISP gives you an SLA with escrowed NOIA coins that can be spent in the unlikely event that their ISP network is not providing you the connectivity you need, you can use those NOIA coins and get access to that better internet path during those times of there being problems.
Is there a way that people can get NOIA coins now if they can pre-purchase them ahead of time and become members or how does that work?
I don’t know the answer to that question.
Is that because it might border on the idea of an ICO and you don’t want to be pre-releasing coins in the event that somebody would think that that’s a security?
I understand the issues that you’re raising. I simply don’t know the logistics if you want to go and buy the coins. I know they were listed on KuCoin. My focus though is not so much on those coins, but on the underlying system that makes all this work. The coins are the utility token that enables the fairness and the sharing.
I’m in real estate. I’m launching a real estate technology company that’s securitizing real estate. We see that there’s a lot of opportunity in Opportunity Zones. This is a zone of real estate that was determined throughout the US and Puerto Rico to be areas that have economic depression of some sort. They’re trying to incentivize it. It came out of the administration and it is an incentivizing tool to bring capital investment into the real estate in depressed areas that need more investment. Also, it comes with a tax shelter for people that otherwise would be taxed heavily on short-term capital gains. They can transfer directly into opportunities on investment.
They have a shelter for up to fifteen years. Because of that, we are looking at how to deploy capital. They’re the best. One of the main incentives is that you have to make capital improvements. To turn homes into smart homes is a no-brainer. Partnering with other blockchain companies to not only securitize and tokenize real estate but also to make significant investments that bring blockchain technology into homes as an infrastructural capital investment is a big focus in our company. It’s interesting to see what you’re able to do for the individual consumer in their homes, making their internet smart internet. It’s smart speed.
The entire world is evaluating where cryptocurrency and blockchain fit into these old school types of inefficient systems. That sounds like a great way.
We’ve got to circle back and follow up on that because I’m putting together our partners and the partner coins that we can bring into our ecosystem so that people who are in tokenize real estate assets can also potentially use these coins in different ways. We can bring more value in circulation. This is a very cool concept. I had no idea that we would stumble into overlap like that. That’s very neat. You’ve been in tech for a long time though. This is not your first rodeo.
I started at Equinix in 1998. I was the Cofounder and Chief Technical Liaison for Equinix. We started with a 25,000 square-foot data center in Ashburn, Virginia. It was a cornfield and that turned into a large Equinix facility. The company took off and grew. The market cap is about $40 billion. I didn’t participate in the large chunk of that upswing by the way. When I cashed out, the company was worth $3.6 billion. Since then, the management team has done a great job of accelerating the growth and lots of acquisitions and lots of good work by those guys.
Where did you go to college?If you have the curiosity, you can learn a lot about how underlying systems work. Click To Tweet
I went to a small upstate New York college called Potsdam College where I studied computer science. I played in a band all through high school and all through college. We played out at the bar scene, pretty much gigged every weekend. I like to think of myself as having a computer science major with a minor in playing in a rock band.
I’ve heard that the musician’s mind works very much like the way the mathematician’s brain works. It’s the same structured organizing of information according to a rhythmic data set, but not in the same way. It’s like the same pathways that the mind needs, that the mind goes down to be able to solve basic equations and things like that too. It seems like those are two sides of the same interest in a weird way.
It’s a very similar analogy. In music, you have the repeat bars. In computer coding, you have loops. You have notifications on individual notes to accent them or do it softly the duration. They’re very similar.
You were always a hybrid musician and computer scientist.
I went to work at the University of Michigan for eleven years. I worked for the Merit Network, which operated the core of the internet called the NSFNet. My role there was to write network management and network monitoring tools. They made sure the core of the internet was working. This was back in ’88, ’89 timeframe.
Monitoring the internet is something you’ve been doing for a long time. It’s a matter of monetizing and also distributing that is the new blockchain add-on to the second wave of the internet that you’ve been able to capture, write about and launch around.
One of the great things about network management is there’s a lot of learning that happens. That learning is incredibly valuable because when you find things that are anomalies or weird and you dig a little deeper. If you have the curiosity, you can learn a lot about how the underlying system works. The things like predicting when a link is going to go down based upon seeing small numbers of errors turn into a larger number of errors over days. I was able to find microwave links that were about to degrade and go out. We were able to switch on to a different link before they kicked out. It’s very like in 2001.
If people were interested in getting more involved in NOIA and getting one of these boxes in their own homes and being a part of the network, how would they do that? What’s the timeline or the roadmap for consumer acquisition for you?
The best avenue forward is to keep tabs on NOIA Network. There’s a Telegram channel and there are a lot of active discussions about the technology, when things are going out, about coins, how the coins would be used, how they’re infused into the system, and how supply is limited. All that stuff is being discussed on that channel. This is by far the most open and transparent company I’ve ever worked for. As a company, everything that we’re doing is pretty much out there, shared with the community in response to the community. As a result, a lot of software is open-source. We expect that people will be building on top of this. This is a system that we all would like to have in place. If you think of us as a global internet community, the idea of us being able to share the resources of other people in order to get connected or so. It is a good public project.
I’m glad that you’re leveraging the open-source system as well because that’s the future of all of these, the blockchain systems especially. Everything is about sharing. It’s an open space that we don’t even have competitors in this space. We have collaborators, which is a lovely time to be involved in tech.
In addition, the open-source software allows everyone to see what is being installed and run on my machine. The kimono is open and you can look at the code. You can see how it works. That’s how bugs get fix and that’s how we maintain transparency and allow people to build and grow on top with the system.
You’re a few months from launching.
It’s a few months from the software being available for download and running. We’ve been doing the CDN for a long time now. There are thousands of nodes that are in the system already. This is an extension beyond that into a much broader vision that provides better internet for everybody.
I’m glad that you were able to come to this show and tell us a little bit about this. I feel like even though it’s deep tech, it was easy to hear with what is going on with you because a lot of times technicians gets so deep into their code state that I have to pull them out. I can tell your brain works in both halves. It must be the musician in you because you explain it in basic terms and it’s refreshing. Thank you so much for talking to us about NOIA and show us what we’re going to have as options in the future to not have glitches in our video or internet connections in the future.
Thanks for having me.
About William B. Norton
Bill was one of the original people to lay the foundations of Equinix. He understands the road from startup to IPO, all the way through an economic downturn, and then back to a $42B market cap. Today, Equinix is the world’s largest IBX data center & colocation provider and a market share leader — with 200 data centers in 24 countries on five continents.
Bill started his career in 1988, developing network management software for the Network Operations Center responsible for monitoring the precursor to the commercial Internet, the NSFNET.
During the transition to the commercial Internet, he wrote the business plan for NANOG (North American Network Operator’s Group) and served as its first chairman from 1995–1998.
He wrote the definitive book on the practice of Internet Peering, “The Internet Peering Playbook: Connecting to the Core of the Internet” and is an internationally recognized expert on Internet Peering and Internet Exchange Points. Bill consulted for governmental agencies, institutional investors, hardware and software vendors such as Cisco, Alcatel, LinkedIn, nVidia, Priceline, InterStream, etc. along dozens of transoceanic carriers, ISPs and IXPs across Africa.
Bill devotes part of his attention to sharing his knowledge with the broader community in the form of presentations and white papers. He developed 13 widely cited industry white papers on Internet interconnection that continue to be taught at universities around the world.