VeriSign's goal: Bump up internet bandwidth 1,000 times

VeriSign's goal: Bump up internet bandwidth 1,000 times

Summary: CTO Ken Silva explains how the company will carry out Project Apollo, which aims to increase internet root server bandwidth to meet 4 quadrillion queries a day

TOPICS: Emerging Tech

To deal with the flow of information over the next 10 years, the capacity of the internet will need to increase by a factor of a thousand, according to US security company VeriSign. The company, which administers one of the root servers of the internet, has started a project to deal with the expected increase in bandwidth demand.

Project Apollo was announced by VeriSign in March, with the aim of strengthening the .com and .net domains. The company's chief technology officer Ken Silva talked to ZDNet UK to give details of how VeriSign plans to increase internet server bandwidth.

Q: Why was Project Apollo put in place?
A: Over the next decade, anything that informs or entertains will be connected to the network, delivering TV, telephony, video. We are seeing the genesis of digital entertainment. Every phone call will be made over the internet, as well as communications like GPS navigation data. We have to prepare the root zone for that much bandwidth.

[The US's] big infrastructure push is around the smart grid. The core power infrastructure will run across the network. [If bandwidth doesn't improve], we're not only talking about the internet [going down] — potentially, a doctor could be in the middle of surgery.

Looking forward to the next decade, even government private networks will become obsolete. The government will be running encrypted tunnels across the public net. It's going to be a tough challenge for any utility or corporation to justify a private network, when a public network exists that is reliable. Even Scada [supervisory control and data acquisition] systems will be over the public network. The [US] Department of Defense relies on private military communications, but they will still be tunnelled over a public network.

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What is the current capacity for VeriSign's root server, and where will it be in 10 years' time?
We are prepared for 4 trillion queries per day, and we're doing 60 billion per day right now. We expect given the dynamics, we'll have to add 1,000 [times] to that capability. We're looking at a capacity of 4 quadrillion queries per day.

The most important number is the number of queries per second. Right now, we're cruising around 1 million queries per second, and it's not uncommon to have 4, 5 or 6 million queries per second, depending on whether we are under denial-of-service attack or anomalies like the death of Michael Jackson — that caused a big spike. In the 10 years I've been associated with VeriSign, we've added 10,000 [times] capacity, and it's a footrace to stay ahead of demand.

What details can you give about Project Apollo?
We're trying to be in more locations around the world, so those countries can continue to grow. We're starting to rely on the internet more. The incident where the undersea cables were cut caused much of India to fall off the map temporarily. If sites are up, all queries have to leave the country to come back, so we're putting the servers in countries including India, Brazil and Argentina.

Do you have any plans to put a server in Estonia, after the cyberattacks there?
Ultimately, we are going into Estonia and placing servers in that country.

Another aspect of Apollo is there is a lot of effort in the labs to...

Topic: Emerging Tech

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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