The White Paper Process


This paper is about how the white papers have been developed over the years.

White Paper Creation Process

The Internet Peering white papers are based on information pulled from some of the smartest networking people in the world. These experts were absolutely essential to the creation of the documents - they contributed their time and knowledge by participating in the white paper process described next.

orking out white paper details

Creating an Internet Operations white paper involves the following stepwise refinement process, face-to-face, over lunches, dinners, socials and in some cases over beers at operations conferences around the world:

  1. Find an Internet operations issue related to peering that (a) is important and interesting, and (b) has not been specifically documented before.
  2. Discuss the issue with anyone who has insights to share, and document what is learned. [ Fact from Fiction? The early drafts are based on conversations with only a few individuals and as a result, early phase white papers are rough and have errors in them. The next stage in the process tends to weed out at least the larger errors. ]
  3. Walk folks through what the previous folks have shared. These folks either validate the points of view, correct them, or add data where it is important to add information. [ Fact from Fiction? Indeed, peering is a highly politicized and often heated topic, so there are sometimes "religious" and/or diametrically opposed view points. One person's fact may sometimes be another's fiction. Because of this, it is important for the white papers to either highlight these differences or focus on the commonalities. ]
  4. Return to Step 2, stepwise refining until no objections are raised. This tends to be about 100 walk-throughs and takes six to eighteen months. After one hundred walkthroughs, the best way to explain a complex topic simply and clearly can emerge.

The end result is a white paper on a particular Internet Operations topic that pretty much represents the broader community mindset on a particular issue.

5. Share back white paper to the community.

Finally, present the research to a broader group (NANOG, RIPE, APRICOT, etc.) to gain final feedback and share the information back to the community. After all, the community provided the content, so it makes sense that the broader community be provided free access to it as well.

All of the content collected for the white papers and the new white papers are still freely available at the web site.

Are the white papers Ghost Written? No, I alone wrote my Internet Peering white papers. It is important to note however that many of the underlying ideas are not my own -- the content is based on information collected from networking people around the world using the process described above.

Do the Ask.DrPeering Articles go through the same process? Unfortunately no, the white papers process doesn't work well for a monthly blog because there simply isn't enough time. These articles are based on conversations with networking folks, often at a private silicon valley lunches where techies get together to discuss such things. As with the early stage white papers, these articles are based on a few conversations, so are more prone to errors. So we continue to evolve this process as we move to a moderated DrPeering discussion area : group.

If bonafide errors are identified, we will and do fix them right away on-line -- in this way the articles have the advantage of being easier to update than when different versions of the white paper PDFs are floating around the net.

Expertise in Peering? My expertise comes from over twenty years working on the Internet, writing the business plan for NANOG and chairing NANOG from 1995-1998, and then ten plus years of additional research in the area, assimilating data points not just from one perspective but from the varying perspectives of hundreds of peering coordinators, network engineers and architects from around the world. Very few people in the world have researched the topic or have exposure to more different peering perspectives than I. These papers are cited by academics and taught in universities around the world. The challenge is working through all of the passionate opinions, fanaticism, etc. and in some cases highlighting both sides of a debate as in the "Great Debate - Private vs Public Peering" and "The Folly of Peering Ratios as a Discriminator" .

Throughout this time, my role has been that of a neutral facilitator. I brought the Peering Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF) sessions back to NANOG and chaired seventeen of them in a row. To highlight different views on emerging peering topics, we launched the "Great Peering Debates" as part of the event. These sessions were fun, informal, well attended, and served the needs of the Peering Community. I assisted with hundreds of peering introductions, helped pull together the aligned interests of the cable companies, the Tier 2 ISPs, and started the precursors to what eventually morphed into the PeeringDB and the Global Peering Forum. All of these activities required a neutral stance and an inclination to facilitate the discussions among the parties. Over the decade, these activities provided me with a bird's eye view of the Internet Peering Ecosystems that I have shared with the community in the form of the white papers.


Presentation Materials


  1. TBD


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Related Documents

  1. Internet Service Providers and Peering
  2. A Business Case for Peering
  3. About the White Paper Process
  4. The Art of Peering - The Peering Playbook
  5. The Art of Peering - The IX Playbook
  6. Chief Technical Liaison
  7. Ecosystems: 95th Percentile Measurement for Internet Transit
  8. Ecosystems: Asia Pacific Peering Guidebook
  9. Ecosystems: Evolution of the U.S. Peering Ecosystem
  10. Emerging Video Internet Ecosystems
  11. European vs US Internet Exchange Points
  12. Internet DataCenter Build vs Buy Decision
  13. Internet Service Providers and Peering
  14. Internet Transit Pricing Historical and Projections
  15. Modeling the value of an Internet Exchange Point
  16. NANOG History
  17. Peering: Motivations to Peer
  18. A Study of 28 Peering Policies
  19. Peering Policies
  20. Peering Simulation Game
  21. Peering: Top 10 Ways to Contact Peering Coordinators
  22. Peering: Top 10 Reasons NOT to peer
  23. Public vs Private Peering - the Great Debate
  24. The Folly of Peering Ratios
  25. Top 9 IX Selection Criteria
  26. Video Internet - The Next Wave of Massive Disruption to the U.S. Peering Ecosystem


Index of other white papers on peering

About the Author

Who is William B. Norton?

Executive Director, DrPeering International

Chief Strategy Officer, International Internet Exchange (IIX)

WIlliam B. Norton is the author of The Internet Peering Playbook: Connecting to the Core of the Internet, a highly sought after public speaker, and an international recognized expert on Internet Peering. He is currently employed as the Chief Strategy Officer and VP of Business Development for IIX, a peering solutions provider. He also maintains his position as Executive Director for, a leading Internet Peering portal. With over twenty years of experience in the Internet operations arena, Mr. Norton focuses his attention on sharing his knowledge with the broader community in the form of presentations, Internet white papers, and most recently, in book form.

From 1998-2008, Mr. Norton’s title was Co-Founder and Chief Technical Liaison for Equinix, a global Internet data center and colocation provider. From startup to IPO and until 2008 when the market cap for Equinix was $3.6B, Mr. Norton spent 90% of his time working closely with the peering coordinator community. As an established thought leader, his focus was on building a critical mass of carriers, ISPs and content providers. At the same time, he documented the core values that Internet Peering provides, specifically, the Peering Break-Even Point and Estimating the Value of an Internet Exchange.

To this end, he created the white paper process, identifying interesting and important Internet Peering operations topics, and documenting what he learned from the peering community. He published and presented his research white papers in over 100 international operations and research forums. These activities helped establish the relationships necessary to attract the set of Tier 1 ISPs, Tier 2 ISPs, Cable Companies, and Content Providers necessary for a healthy Internet Exchange Point ecosystem.

Mr. Norton developed the first business plan for the North American Network Operator's Group (NANOG), the Operations forum for the North American Internet. He was chair of NANOG from May 1995 to June 1998 and was elected to the first NANOG Steering Committee post-NANOG revolution.

William B. Norton received his Computer Science degree from State University of New York Potsdam in 1986 and his MBA from the Michigan Business School in 1998.

Read his monthly newsletter: or e-mail: wbn (at) TheCoreOfTheInter (dot) net

Click here for Industry Leadership and a reference list of public speaking engagements and here for a complete list of authored documents

About the White Papers...

The Peering White Papers are based on conversations with hundreds of Peering Coordinators and have gone through a validation process involving walking through the papers with hundreds of Peering Coordinators in public and private sessions.

While the price points cited in these papers are volatile and therefore out-of-date almost immediately, the definitions, the concepts and the logic remains valid.

If you have questions or comments, or would like a walk through any of the paper, please feel free to send email to consultants at DrPeering dot net

Please provide us with feedback on this white paper. Did you find it helpful? Were there errors or suggestions? Please tell us what you think using the form below.


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