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Globally Distributed Content
(Using BGP to Take Over the World)

Horms (Simon Horman)

November 2001

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror-
The wide brown land for me!
Dorothea McKellar -- My Country


I would like to acknowledge my employer VA Linux Systems, without whose help this work would not have been possible. Special thanks goes to Ben Buxton for his valuable assistance.


This paper is copyright 2000 Simon Horman and is released under the terms of the GNU General Public Licence, a copy of which is distributed with the source for this document.

All trademarks and software are the property of their respective owners.

Version Information

Version Date Description
0.0.0 5th December 2000 Initial release
0.0.1 8th November 2001 Minor Revisions

17th - 20th January 2001
University of New South Wales
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

LinuxWorld Conrerence and Expo
30th January - 2nd February 2001
Jacob Javits Center
New York, New York, United States of America

Open Source and Free Software Developers Meeting
3rd - 4th February 2001
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Campus de la Plaine
Bruxelles, Belgium

LinuxWorld Expo/Tokyo
30th May - 1st June 2001
Tokyo Big Sight (Tokyo International Exhibition Centre)
Tokyo, Japan

Ottowa Linux Symposium
25th - 28th July 2001
Ottowa Congress Centre
Ottowa, Ontario, Canada

Linux Kongress
28th - 30th November 2001
University of Twente
Enschede, The Netherlands


Electronic content made available over the Internet is becoming increasingly important for providers and users alike. To provide the best possible service to end users it is desirable for content to be network-wise as close to client hosts as possible.

Static mirrors of sites are one means of distributing traffic between sites and giving users the opportunity to connect to a site that will give them a fast response. However, manually selecting sites, which may or may not be available, from a list of mirrors is a tedious process. The sites at the top of the list are a tempting choice -- economy of choice in lieu of the possibility of faster access.

Instead of expecting users to manually select a mirror, it makes sense for the service provider to automatically direct clients to a site that will offer them good performance, that is to have a global load balancing algorithm in place. One such algorithm is to use BGP to select which site has the least cost path to a given client. This paper will examine the implementation of such an load balancing scheme.

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Horms 2001-11-08