Vice President and General Manager, DE-CIX North America
Access to high-quality, reliable, and fast Internet is more important than ever. From gamers to businesses adopting digital transformation, people, companies, and networks themselves continue to transform and expand the need for high-speed Internet. Enabling this change is the infrastructure that supports, drives, and powers connectivity. One of the most vital ways companies can transform their business is through the use of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs or IXs). IXPs serve as the place where networks can connect to optimize Internet performance and to ensure their data can reach the most end users possible. Through a connection to an IXP, networks can share local traffic outside of their respective networks, minimizing the amount of data that typically relies on upstream transit providers.
As networks look for more ways to seamlessly deliver value to customers in the face of expanding global network demands, IXPs may hold the secret to enhancing the global flow of information in the most cost-effective and efficient way.
Assessing the Benefits
As a vital component of the global Internet’s ecosystem, IXPs deliver the opportunity for any network operator (carrier, content, enterprise, ISPs, private, and others) to interconnect directly to exchange data traffic. This provides optimal routing that reaches end users quicker, more cost effectively, and more reliably. By creating a more dispersed network topology, these convenient exchange points are critical for their ability to avert “tromboning” – a situation that can occur when relying on backbone ISPs to bring traffic from its source to a destination. Tromboning occurs when traffic traverses vast distances to be exchanged before traveling to its eventual destination, causing congestion and poor application performance. Think of it this way: when you don’t have control of your network routing, you don’t know where the traffic goes. It could go west first before going south to its final end point. This type of process can undermine the success of next-generation applications or cloud computing strategies, holding businesses back in a highly competitive marketplace. Similar to tromboning – which is the worst case of suboptimal routing – zig-zag pathing or generally poor routing adds latency, jitter, and hop counts and hinders network performance in the same way.
With more widespread and comprehensive coverage, IXPs also allow users to leverage minimized latency paths that the contemporary digital world demands. Additionally, by keeping local traffic local and avoiding unnecessary long-distance trips, IXPs play an important part in keeping the Internet’s many channels unclogged, leading to better network performance and reduced delays for all networks. IXPs even lower overall costs for end users and ISPs by avoiding payments for transit – which could be costly on top of a transport network connection.
In a world of digital globalization, the exchange of data traffic at these peering points allows for a single connection to hundreds of networks. This delivers route flexibility, reliable and resilient connectivity, redundancy, and increased network quality and control, while reaching strategic international markets and ecosystems from a convenient location that can be monetized and optimized.
In the past, IXPs were owned and operated by data center companies or telecommunications providers. In today’s era, data center-agnostic (neutral) IXPs unlock new potential and open up the opportunity to all network operators to peer, eliminating expensive colocation requirements, as well as the need to buy and manage remote equipment and remote cross-connect fees.
With edge compute requirements demanding closer aggregation points and access to end users, there’s no doubt that IXPs will continue to play an increasingly crucial part in the development and betterment of networks both in major metro areas and beyond. By enabling the networks of today to more efficiently route traffic, achieve lower latency, reduce costs, and increase coverage and reach, IXPs are providing the foundation for a more capable global ecosystem of networks and applications for tomorrow.