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The Kolkata L-Root Instance Journey

23 August 2017

Anupam Agrawal

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The deployment of the L-Root Instance in Kolkata was initiated as part of the Critical Internet Infrastructure support program. The Internet Society (ISOC) Kolkata Chapter launched in 2013. ISOC Kolkata Chapter’s philosophy has been to facilitate the technical capacity development of people working at the core and edge of the Internet in India.

At the time, one key question of the program was whether India should have more root server instances to help support routing traffic. We realised there was a need for additional root server instances by calculating the average number of Internet users in a region by root instance. America and European regions had 4-5 million users per instance. Whereas, in India it was approximately 100 million users per instance. Though a crude method, it gave us a clear objective to move ahead.

Having gained support from the Indian community, we began to approach various Root instance operators and we spoke with ICANN, the L-Root operator. At the time, ICANN did not operate a L-Root server instance in India. The arrangement with ICANN is simple, ICANN charges the host nothing for hosting the instance, and ICANN staff look after the software and the administrative management. ISOC Kolkata arranges for a server, bandwidth, and supporting cost for the maintenance of the server.

Supplying hardware, preparing necessary security arrangements, and acquiring bandwidth may be routine for an Internet Service Provider (ISP) hosting a root instance, but for our chapter it was a new and first-hand experience.

The process of providing the server to Kolkata required multiple meetings with our sponsors and the suppliers. Presenting the purpose of a server in Kolkata for not-for-profit use versus business needs had to be explained to the taxman.

We also needed to find a location to house the server. It currently sits in one of ISOC Kolkata’s office buildings. Security access systems needed to be established, including installing window grills. This is the responsibility of supporting critical Internet infrastructure!

Our most essential challenge was bringing high speed bandwidth to the server’s connection. We found it difficult to receive sponsorship support, even from some of the not-for-profit organisations created to serve the Internet community of India. This delayed the start of the L-Root instance operations. Finally, a telco agreed to sponsor at a reasonable cost with a condition: the chapter would take the responsibility of completing the final steps of connectivity. These final steps included handling pole climbing, drilling holes, and splicing wires. Volunteer effort and community support made it possible to make the L-Root instance operational.

The technical team working under Anand Raje’s (ISOC Kolkata Vice President) leadership was able to make the connection and the ICANN DNS Engineering team completed the setup. We are now live.

Over the next two days the traffic increased and the bandwidth was unable to handle the traffic. After another series of presentations and approaching local ISPs, an ISP was roped in to support the extra bandwidth.

There was a sense of satisfaction once the issues of bandwidth were resolved. I would like to thank our community and sponsors for working together towards this cause, as well as the ICANN team including Champika Wijayatunga and Samiran Gupta from the ICANN APAC Regional Office, Chris Mondini, and the DNS Engineering team.

 

This is the 2nd instalment of our 3-part APAC Regional Office 4th Anniversary series. If you missed the 1st instalment, you can read it here. Our 3rd instalment is coming soon.

Anupam Agrawal