18 May

Joining the board of E2E

This week I worked on the paperwork to get on the board of E2E Networks Ltd as one of the Independent Director. It was quite an interesting process as this is the first time I am joining the board of directors of an organisation.

About E2E

Not to be confused by the “Networks” in the name, E2E is in the business of selling high powered, low cost compute (Virtual machines) hosted in India targeted towards Indian organisations. It’s one of the very few organisations of its kind which is listed at the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) since 15th May 2018. E2E was started by Tarun Dua and Mohammed Imran. I know Tarun since a really long time (if I remember correctly, probably since 2010). It has been good to see the organisation grow from a very small team to where it stands now. While AWS, Azure and now Google Cloud are helping to grow the market of Cloud Computing, there’s still a gap of providers who can offer much more competitive pricing for the monster machines for lesser overbuild which large cloud providers do.

Quick links about E2E

  • List of other board members here
  • List of E2E’s team members here
  • E2E has its own ASN but relies on Netmagic’s AS17439 for originating pools. HE’s BGP toolkit for E2E’s prefixes here
  • News on listing here

Thoughts on DSC, DIN and OS X!

Director of an organisation (private or listed) have to maintain a DIN i.e Director Identification Number in India. Now to get a DIN, one needs a DSC which is Digital Signing Certificate. DSC uses RSA keys and Government of India has recognised around 9 Certifying authorities for it (listed here). So one gets key loaded in a physical device. As soon as you have a physical device in the picture and Mac OS X cannot recognise it, it’s a problem. Most of the driver packages offered by the vendors are unsigned and I personally don’t like installing those packages on the base machine I use. Besides those drivers, one also needs the emsigner package to associated DSC with DIN which again happens to be another package to make the whole stack work.
Thus to make it all work securely, I ended up in putting a Windows VM on Virtualbox locally, thus in an isolated instance for such tasks only.

My involvement…

I will be on the board to contribute as an independent director. It’s a non-executive role and thus I won’t have any involvement in the day to day things but just macro level picture of the things and involvement in board meetings. I continue with my full-time job at Hurricane Electric. It would be great to learn corporate governance by looking at how things work at the board of a company.

Well, so that’s all for now. Time to get back to work! 🙂

05 Apr

Tata – Airtel domestic peering IRR filtering and OpenDNS latency!

Last month I noticed quite high latency with Cisco’s OpenDNS from my home fibre connection. The provider at home is IAXN (AS134316) which is peering with content folks in Delhi besides transit from Airtel.

This is bit on the higher side as from Haryana to Mumbai (OpenDNS locations list here). My ISP is backhauling from Faridabad which is probably 6-8ms away from my city and 2-3ms further to Delhi and from there to Mumbai around 30ms. Thus latency should be around ~40-45ms.

Here’s how forward trace looked like

Forward trace looks fine except that latency jumps as soon as we hit Tata AS4755 backbone. OpenDNS connects with Tata AS4755 inside India and announces their anycast prefixes to them. If the forward trace is logically correct but has high latency, it often reflects the case of bad return path. Thus I requested friends at OpenDNS to share the return path towards me. As expected, it was via Tata AS6453 Singapore.

Here’s what Tata AS4755 Mumbai router had for IAXN prefix:

Thus what was happening is this:

Forward path: IAXN (AS134316) > Airtel (AS9498) > Tata (AS4755) > OpenDNS (AS36692)

Return path: OpenDNS (AS36692) > Tata (AS4755) > Tata (AS6453) > Airtel (AS9498) > IAXN (AS134316)

While this may seem like a Tata – Airtel routing issue but it wasn’t. I could see some of the prefixes with a direct path as well. Here’s a trace from Tata AS4755 Mumbai PoP to an IP from a different pool of IAXN:

This clearly was fine. So why Tata was treating 103.87.46.0/24 different from 14.102.188.0/22? The reason for that lies in following:

  • Airtel (AS9498) very likely peers with Tata (AS4755). They do interconnect for sure as we see in traceroutes and my understanding is that it’s based on settlement-free peering for Indian traffic.
  • Airtel (AS9498) buys IP transit from Tata (AS6453) (besides a few others). Tata AS6453 is carrying the routing announcements to other networks in the transit free zone and that confirms that Airtel (at least technically) has a downstream customer relationship here.
  • Tata (AS4755) has IRR based filters on peering but not the Tata (AS6453) for it’s downstream. Hence while Tata rejected the route in India, they did accept that in Singapore PoP.
  • My IP was from prefix 14.102.188.0/22 and there was no valid route object for it at any of key IRRs like ATLDB, APNIC or RADB. But other prefix 103.87.46.0/24 did had a valid route object on APNIC.

Now after almost 10 days of it, my ISP has changed the BGP announcement and announcing 14.102.189.0/24 (which does a valid route object on APNIC). This fixes the routing problem and give me pretty decent latency with OpenDNS:

So if you are a network operator and originating prefixes, please do document them in any of the IRRs. You can do that via IRR of your RIR (APNIC, ARIN etc) or a free IRR like ALTDB. If you have downstreams, make sure to create AS SET, add downstreams ASNs in your AS SET and also include that AS SET on peeringdb for the world to see!

Misc Notes

  • Posted strictly in my personal capacity and has nothing to do with my employrer.
  • Thanks for folks from Cisco/OpenDNS for quick replies with relevant data which helped in troubleshooting. 🙂
21 Mar

Why elections are less exciting this time?

(Warning: Post is about Indian politics and International readers can likely skip the post unless interested in Indian politics)

After the recent announcement of General Elections as well as tensions on relations with Pakistan, the whole environment is getting so political. News channels are full of people screaming about the party, the leader they support while the level of discourse has got to a very low level.

I must admit I was much more excited about elections back in 2014 as compared to now and I feel that is the case with many other people around me.

Some thoughts

  1. BJP Performed really well in 2014 elections and it’s very likely they will get fewer seats as compared to 2014. The NDA Govt in 2014 was the first govt I saw in my lifetime which had a full majority in the Lok Sabha and it was first non-Congress full majority Govt. country has ever seen. Whether or not BJP gets a majority again and Prime Minister Modi continues is to be seen but in terms of the direction of the things, it’s unlikely that they will get the same level of seats as they had in past.
  2. It was amazing to see someone (non-Congress) related Govt. coming to power but it disappointed as still a lot of things did not work well. Thus we are forced to ask ourselves if a ring wing govt. in full majority with their choice of the President of India, cannot solve the Kashmir issue and end article 370, who else will? Likely no one.
  3. The high stress on building Ram Mandir on disputed land does not add anything substantial.
  4. BJP did play like Congress on issues of loan waivers. There’s still no clear policy on the farming sector distress.
  5. BJP Govt. in the centre did overall okish (and good by the standards of the previous govt) but their leadership in my state (Haryana) was a total failure. In a safe and secure state like Haryana, we faced incidents of riot or riot-like situation. First the Rampal arrest case, next Jat reservation riots and lastly Ram Rahim’s arrest and burning of Panchkula as part of it. Though there have been allegations of issues being related to mismanagement by the previous Govt. as well as certain leaders but BJP cannot run away from its responsibility of running administration in a state. They performed really poorly in Haryana and that caused loss of life as well as damage worth billions of dollars.
  6. BJP did handle the Uri attack as well as Pulwama attack quite well with responses such as Surgical strike as well as targetted attacks at terrorist posts recently but they totally screwed up the whole thing by turning it to political. Why now in 2019 we are even talking so much about war, nuclear power and what not? The focus should have been on isolating our borders and fence them + add smart tech to take care of places where fencing can’t be done. Last news was that it would be finished by Dec 2018. No update so far on this project. Thus in all the noise of “teaching Pakistan a lesson,” we are missing on key issues which matter.
  7. A large section of our population fails to understand that war is not the ultimate solution because if war happens it’s likely that we will win (with a lot of collateral damages). What next? Well, nothing. Both leaders will sit on a table and will do a Tashkent like agreement. If one goes super aggressive and assuming takes down the leadership of Pakistan (including army leadership) what next? Again, nothing. What will you do with 19 crore population? Do we really want that? Thus there are limited options we have – keep our land safe (keep borders protected), hope & work towards ensuring that democratic institutions become stronger in Pakistan and the incentive for a section of leadership to take an aggressive stand with India are being cut down. Are we working on that? Can’t say. Our home minister recently said in a political rally that our forces crossed LoC thrice and he cannot talk about the third case (news here). Why this is even a subject of a political rally? A large section of leaders around Prime Minister Modi are sounding as arrogant as ministers used to sound in the UPA time.
  8. BJP did a nice job on roads, power infrastructure, railways as well as few other key points. Some nationwide projects like UPI and promoting Rupay are visionary. Projects like One Nation One Card are need of this time but I fear of very poor implementation of these like they did for FastTag. NOFN/BBNL is a total mess besides the poor state of BSNL and MTNL.
  9. BJP did end the red beacon culture which was a great move.
  10. Govt. digitalised a large set of processes. Between 2014 to 2019 – I got the ability to pay electricity bills online, water supply bills online, launch complaints online, request for changes in driving license & voter card online, got my new passport in less than 5 days, got copies of all key documents via Digital Locker platform, got option of payments at various outlets via inter-operable QR code, got option to open any kind of financial account via Aadhar (and mostly online!). Thus the vision of delivering services online was quite nice and definitely picked up. Aadhar did backfire a little bit but that was mostly due to the foolishness of various state governments of asking for aadhar on everything and then leaking that data. A lot of new things though still slightly buggy and with their own set of challenges.

After all this I gotta ask myself – what is the alternative? Congress is clearly not a solution to any of these problems. They are corrupt and revolve completely around the Gandhi family. I would find it hard to vote for Congress in my life until it’s out of the grip of one family.

But then what?

Is AAP even an option? Hell NO!. Delhi is simply a mess and a party which was formed on the basis of anti-corruption is now ready to shake hands with BSP, RJD, INLD and even Congress. That’s the extent hypocrisy and as the popular saying goes in Hindi – Prime Minister Modi / BJP are अंधों में काना राजा (In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king).