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Improve network availability with Fastly Precision Path

Just over a year ago, we introduced our Fast Path Failover technology as a way to improve connectivity for users requesting content from Fastly’s edge cloud platform. We are currently supplementing this solution with technology designed to improve performance on all Internet paths between your origin server and the Fastly network.
Taken together, the enhancements that Precision Path brings encompass the connections between the user and Fastly, and between the source and Fastly. Precision Path deployment across the Fastly platform and to all customers provides the following:
Better protection against provider transient issues with respect to requests to the origin server.
A more robust content distribution for your end users.
But best of all, Precision Path offers fully automated, self-healing, real-time fault detection and mitigation for all Fastly network traffic. Not that it fixes every single problem, but it gets us pretty close to that goal.
Let’s see how it works below.

The challenge: the “inclementities” of the Internet

Interruptions of different sizes occur on the Internet. Some are important enough to attract global attention, but often these are events that, despite happening quickly, deteriorate performance in their wake. This may affect Fastly’s (or any content delivery provider’s) ability to access Customer’s origin services and obtain new or updated content as required. And this, in turn, can present 5xx HTTP server errors to end users.
On any given day, any internet transit provider anywhere in the world may experience a few to a few hundred of those short-lived, transient episodes that degrade performance or connectivity, known as “internet outages.” . From analysis of our global network traffic, we estimate that a significant portion of the source recovery failures that end up being passed on to end users are due to those transient provider issues that occur between us and the origin of our services. customers. Current industry techniques such as BGP routing changes are often the equivalent of shooting flies with a cannonball, and many times problems get through before BGP changes are even propagated.

The Solution: Precision Path to the Rescue

With Precision Path, Fastly can now automatically detect connection problems in real time at the source and divert them to other paths to dramatically reduce errors and improve the end user experience. Precision Path is now included in our distribution platform for all customers.
Ok, but how does it work? To address transient path degradation, Precision Path:
Detects source connection problems.

Trigger real-time mitigation tools, such as automatic provider redirection to affected origins.
Provides timely visibility into events and mitigation results.
Specifically, Precision Path now constantly monitors all origin connections at each and every Fastly POP in the world. As soon as it detects a poorly performing source connection, it automatically identifies all possible alternative paths to the affected source and redirects the connection to the best option. All of this happens in real time and often allows us to successfully re-establish the source connection before 5xx errors are presented to end users.

If we imagine distribution on the Internet as a typical supply chain, then Precision Path’s fast route rerouting would be the equivalent of using road navigation software that diverts us to avoid a traffic jam on the highway, but always guides us to the best possible route. to our destination (solving congestion from the edge to the user). The new rerouting of Precision Path origin connections would be the equivalent of opening a new loading and unloading area on an alternate highway at your transportation facility (the POP).

Precision Path ensures automated end-to-end selection of the best Internet paths to deliver content to users from origin servers. We have been testing this new technology since March 2020 and have seen some impressive results in specific provider network events, such as significant volumes of traffic being diverted from affected data centers to alternate routes during a recent brief service outage that affected one of our suppliers. We realize that Precision Path cannot solve every problem, but we are very pleased to continue to improve the reliability and performance of our infrastructure beyond the edge for our customers.

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