Internet Stack

What is the Internet Stack?

In today’s globally distributed, interconnected, service-oriented world, every business depends on the Internet. But the Internet is much more fragile and complex than most people realize. The functionality we rely on was designed a long time ago for a different vision of the Internet, and many of the foundational systems underpinning it are based on trust-based networks that pose risks for mission-critical applications today. Modern applications are a collection of multiple interdependent services, hosted across the globe, connected via standard protocols.  

The Internet Stack is the collection of technologies, systems, and services that make possible and impact every digital user experience – from the core Internet systems like BGP, network technologies like TCP/IP, security technologies like SASE, protocols like QUIC or POP, cloud services, third party dependencies including APIs and web services, and SaaS applications. The term refers to all IP-based networks including the public Internet, private networks, and everything in between.

Catchpoint Internet Stack Diagram

Critical Layers of the Internet Stack

The essential tiers that work together to deliver seamless digital services from businesses to end-users, from the application layer down to the network foundation.

  • Application Layer - The topmost layer of the Internet Stack, where users connect with digital services. It's your direct line to engaging with web-based activities, from shopping online to managing reservations.
  • Media and Advertising Layer - The mix of content and advertising that make online experiences enjoyable and profitable. Think of all the images, videos, and customer experiences, along with the behind-the-scenes analytics and ad delivery.
  • Cloud Services Layer - The powerhouse of modern computing, providing essential tools and services from the cloud. These include hosting, APIs, security, and recovery solutions, all accessible remotely to empower businesses and users alike.
  • Internet Core Layer - The backbone of the Internet, ensuring data travels where it needs to go. It includes the domain name system (DNS), content delivery network (CDN), border gateway protocol (BGP), and edge computing.
  • Protocol Layer - The rulebook for Internet communication, allowing devices to talk to each other smoothly. These protocols make sure that, despite different technologies, data is exchanged in an orderly way.
  • Network Layer - The vast web of connections that forms the Internet. It includes everything from your local Wi-Fi to the broader connections that link cities and countries.

Monitoring the Internet Stack

Making sure the entire Internet Stack is reliable and performant is not just a matter of routine maintenance; it's a strategic imperative. A Forrester Consulting report stated, “The Internet is the life force of e-commerce, and monitoring performance to identify and fix disruptions quickly should be a top priority.” Any aspect of the Internet Stack can impact revenue, operations, and brand – ultimately impacting trust. Workforce productivity, eCommerce revenue, payment processing, remote office locations, connected systems, and even building access require a performant Internet Stack.

Monitoring the Internet Stack requires a new set of technologies. The ideal monitoring system must meet three critical requirements:

  1. Internet-specific monitoring – a proper IPM system must support and provide deep visibility into evert relevant protocol, technology, and Internet system – from BGP to MQTT.
  1. Broad observability network – to ensure a distributed system works, monitoring vantage points must also be distributed, covering the same geographic areas, and provide information specific to real access devices, browsers, ISPs, and connectivity that users will utilize. Monitoring from cloud locations is insufficient in this context. Just as important, these vantage points must be single-homed to ensure data quality, consistency, and reliability of benchmarks.
  1. History, analysis and correlation – with so many data points from so many locations, it is important for a proper IPM system to be able to analyze high-resolution data with over one year of history, and to be able to compare, correlate, and analyze multiple streams of data at the same time.

Catchpoint Internet Performance Monitoring (IPM) proactively detects critical outages impacting your entire Internet Stack – issues that traditional APM tools, which typically focus on web and API monitoring, often miss. With visibility into the entire Internet Stack, you can manage complex, distributed architectures and observe the impact of changes on the user experience.

Learn more about APM vs IPM ->

APM vs IPM Diagram

Visualize and model your Internet Stack with Catchpoint Internet Stack Map

Catchpoint’s Internet Stack Map lets you see what’s impacting your application’s performance in real time at a glance.  

Powered by our industry leading IPM platform, organizations can map the entire Internet Stack from the outside-in so their IT teams can track every step of each user’s journey across the digital service delivery chain. This advancement marks a significant shift in how organizations can ensure the reliability and performance of their most critical services.  

Key benefits of Internet Stack Map:

  • Real-time monitoring: Proactively detect and resolve issues with a live operational dashboard that provides visibility into all critical service experiences. This helps minimize downtime and illustrates the severity of issues over time.
  • Better decision-making. Powered by Catchpoint's Internet Sonar, which monitors third-party services, cloud providers, ISPs, SaaS providers, and more, you’ll quickly answer the question, “Is it us or is something else,” eliminating the need for costly war rooms and slashing MTTI/MTTR.  
  • Enhanced control. Better visibility means better digital experiences.  

By viewing all your application’s dependencies in a simple, interactive, and real-time status map, you can immediately diagnose issues and slash MTTR.

Learn more about Internet Stack Map ->