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Thread: Highwinds-Media Shrinking?

  1. #1
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    Many usenet folks know that the 'Highwinds-Media' group, headquartered out of Winter Park, FL., has (had??) several news-server plant scattered around the US, and was (is??) the outsourced choice of many news-group operations.

    In the last couple of weeks, I've noticed that at least two of their plants, in New York and Phoenix, have, when running a simple trace-route, actually moved/concentrated their operations to somewhere around Chicago. At least that's where the IP addresses are currently pointed to.

    I noticed when the throughput to their systems dropped about 10% or so, perhaps due to the serpentine routes the data is taking; usually, routing tables tend to keep one's data within the systems it originates from (in my case, Verizon), until it either gets fairly close to where it's going, or to a 'hub' where the recipient has a major ingress point (for instance, say the recipient contracts with Level3, and Level3 has a major ingress point to it's network, where in cross-connects with Verizon, then the data would 'jump' onto Level3's network at that point and ride their system in an 'express lane' to the recipient).

    At least, that's kinda the way things work, generally.

    But to get back to Highwinds-Media, it appears tha perhaps they've shut down their NYC/Phoenix operations. The question is, why(?). Are they upgrading the plants there, shifting the traffic to their Chicago plant, or....??

    BTW, the Atlanta plant still seems to be up and running, handling a couple of major clients (Usenetserver et. al.?).

    Just kinda wondered if anyone else had noticed this. I keep fairly well close watch on this 'stuff', having worked in my last job before retirement on worldwide internet links, where I never touched anything lower than around 2.4Gb/s (OC48/STM16) and the lion share at 10Gb/s (OC192/STM64) and greater. Somethings going on with Highwinds, that's for sure.

  2. Newsgroups   -   #2
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    About a year ago, one Highwinds provider, Ngroups/Usenet-News, changed their server addresses. They previously used two US-based backend server farms, one in New York and one in Phoenix Arizona. The new server address routed to Atlanta. This server was apparently the UNS server, as Highwinds had bought Usenetserver earlier that year. The existing Amsterdam server appeared unchanged.

    Highwinds had bought Newshosting around late 2005/early 2006. I think that Newshosting's existing server farm was located in Florida.

    It would seem to make financial sense for Highwinds to close down two or three of their five (at least) US-based server farms that they ended up owning after buying Newshosting and UNS.

    I understand that some NSPs, like Giganews, use dynamic URLs instead of issuing dedicated server addresses, allowing them to load-balance by automatically rerouting the users' connections to the appropriate server.

    I don't know anything about the apparent Chicago routing "hub". Could it be possible that this is the location of a front-end server, that then redirects requests, using dedicated lines, to their back-end server locations?

    It's unfortunately true that Highwinds has become the 800# gorilla in the (non-Dutch) back-end usenet provider business, as the vast majority of newsgroup "service providers" are actually reselling Highwinds service. The downside is that Highwinds has been lagging behind most other NSP as their retention has not kept up with other back-end providers.

    Because of Highwinds below-grade retention (currently a tad over 100 days), I'm giving Astraweb (138d ret) a try. There are also several quality Dutch providers with retentions in the 120-160 day range. With the weak US dollar, the Dutch news providers are sadly no longer the bargain they would otherwise be.

  3. Newsgroups   -   #3
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    I've got a few 'olde tyme' accounts, left over from the days before I 'bit the bullet' and paid Giganews; still have about 200MB left on Astraweb, for instance, and a couple smaller buckets of bits from others, one of which was reselling Highwinds.

    I had d/l'ed something that was just barely able to be repaired with the pars, and went searching for a couple of the missing parts, with one of those old accounts. The company, btw, is out-of-business now, but the account was still active, and was very slow to respond. So, tracert, and found that both the Phoenix and NY servers IP actually went to Chicago.

    I think that quite a few 'start-ups' that were simply reselling Highwinds 'bit the dust', and now Highwinds themselves is getting weak. Everyone's up against the behemoth, Giganews. and don't really have the resources to go one on one with them (I wonder how long Astraweb will be able to give it a go).

    I guess we shall see.

  4. Newsgroups   -   #4
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    The Highwinds-Media Servers (used by several usenet resellers as noted in my messages above) has further concentrated their server plant to a company called Servercentral.net, or scnet.net, somewhere outside of Washington, DC, either in or around Reston/Herndon/Leesburg Virginia, although they continue to maintain servers in Atlanta, GA, apparently eliminated server plants in Phoenix, AZ, Chicago, IL, and New York, NY.

    Some additional changes in routing sometime in the last week or two (don't know exactly when, haven't been watching that closely), has rendered throughput to this particular location right down in the dumper.

    Anyone thinking of paying good money to any reseller that utilizes their systems (easily figured out by running a simple tracert (trace-route) to the company in question, is well advised to keep away, certainly on any 'plan' that is reoccurring and advertises 'unlimited' use.

    The current system simply can barely sustain 1Mb/s throughput, no matter how many connections is established. Although the Atlanta servers are still running, they apparently service ONLY Usenetserver.com, and no others I can figure out. But who knows how long that will stay in service at this rate.

    Went back and re-figured all this out after Giganews started acting 'funny' yesterday, as noted in other threads.

    BTW, one of my super-old 'standbys', AstraWeb of Santa Clara, CA (San Jose, Silicon Valley) was solid as a rock all during these 'events'.
    Last edited by Beck38; 08-17-2008 at 02:41 PM.

  5. Newsgroups   -   #5
    I have an account from a highwinds reseller and I am having no issues, I am consistenly downloading at 20-25 Megs/sec. I agree their retention is pretty static at roughly 100 days, but I have been using the Atlanta server for as long as I have been with these guys(about 1.5 years now).

    Astranews has a new block plan which is basically priced at the same level as my highwinds resller. I signed up there too and I am quite happy with that also. I am getting about 28-32 Megs/sec and the 150 day retention rocks.

  6. Newsgroups   -   #6
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    Spent a bit more time today looking at the routing, throughput, etc., and it appears that Highwinds has made some 'adjustments' in both their main transmission vendor (an outfit named NLayer), and their server plant in Virginia.

    In short, it's MUCH improved as of today; will have to see what gives over time.

    It's always interesting to me, trying to explain 'route miles' to folks, especially Europeans. I lived in Europe (Germany) for 4 years way back when, and People didn't get the SIZE of the US (or North America for that matter, as Canada has the same distances, especially east to west).

    The 'route miles' from say, San Fransisco to Washington, DC, is over 1000miles FURTHER than London, UK, to Moscow, RU. Convert to kilometers, if you will. Now, one would think that it would be a straight piece of fiber from A to B, but it's not. It may be a 'one hop' as far as the routers are concerned, but at the physical level it's at least 10-20 'segments'.

    The delay, of course, is additive. And most systems are still based on 'rings', not 'meshed', and actual packets can take circuitous routes from that point A to B. Good router techs/engineers need to sit down and think a bit before putting in the route tables; and relying on dynamic routing is another no-no.

    So yes, one can get away from having servers on 'both coasts', but one had better keep an eye on that vendor you chose to carry that traffic, and your 'eggs in one basket' server plant as well.

    But we're all down at the user level, don't have much to go on in the way of good tools to hack away at any problems. Simply note they exist, and hopefully move on. If you're paying good coin on a monthly basis, though, it may be hard to move.

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