We at LIRNEasia have always emphasized the significance of the physical infrastructure that makes the Internet possible. That is possibly because we work in parts of the world where the infrastructure is still being built up. Our long engagement with ESCAP on the Asia Pacific Information Superhighway (APIS) is testimony to this. It is in this context that this piece about the data centers that support much of the “cloud” caught my attention.
This led to an outcropping of office parks that housed not only defense contractors, but also government IT and time-sharing services and, later, companies like MCI, AOL, and UUNet. Thanks to that concentration of network companies and a whole lot of support from the National Science Foundation, Tysons Corner became home to MAE-East, one of the earliest Internet exchanges and home to the foundation of what would become that Internet backbone. Networks build atop networks, and the presence of this backbone in Tysons Corner led to more backbone, more tech companies, and more data centers. Today, up to 70 percent of Internet traffic worldwide travels through this region, as the Loudon county economic-development board cheerfully notes in its marketing materials.
I seriously doubt the claim that 70 percent of all the world’s Internet traffic runs through Northern Virginia. Hope someone will provide the correct, and lower, figure with a reliable source.