The landscape for business and work activities has been changed forever. With remote-working and distributed workforces set to be the norm, the demand for low-latency network connectivity has already exploded.
Just before the global pandemic, there was already a 9.1 percent growth in internet users to 4.39 billion. By 2022, internet gaming traffic and video streaming demands on internet bandwidth are expected to surge by two times or more. Stability and speed in accessing crucial digital services for e-commerce, cloud computing, e-services and remote-working will continue to lead the surge trend.
Obviously, Over-The-Top providers, media companies and digital service providers are scrambling to establish global local network or data centre presences to exchange traffic with local internet service providers (ISPs). Many are opting for a more cost-effective way by peering at internet exchanges (IXs).
The benefits of peering are clear:
- Unlike transit, peering is usually free. The ISP shares the circuit cost with peers, or runs the circuit to public-steering point for a one-off cost.
- There is better control over the traffic routing. The IX keeps traffic local.
- The end-user experience is improved. Packet loss, queued packets and packet latencies are eliminated when peering traffic between the ISP/content providers and eyeballs.
- Flexible cost management. With usage-based billing, network service providers pay only for the capacity used for settlement-free peering.
However, in the new normal, the challenges and economic hurdles will begin to take a toll on scarce resources. This happens when connecting to a much higher number of internet exchange points (IXPs).
Traditional peering is achieved via IXs where networks peer at an IXP to connect directly between the nodes without having to transit and peer via third-party internet service providers (ISP). It reduces the need for upstream transit, thus reducing costs and increasing the number of peering options.
To get started, a network service provider joins as an IX member and install hardware at its enabled site and then buy connections at the IXP. Before the pandemic caused an internet surge, increasing bandwidth via traditional peering was still manageable.
However, its complexities can stand in the way when large-scale connectivity across multiple locations demands bear down on the service providers:
- The need to install hardware at IX-enabled sites
- Having to manage multiple suppliers (IX, colocation providers and vendors)
- The IXP facilitates peering but peering arrangements are not automatic. Basic tech requirements need to be agreed upon
- Flat fees are not economical if the bandwidth is not fully utilised
The good news is that these challenges of traditional IXP access can now be simplified and addressed via remote peering.
Remote Peering vs Traditional Peering
Instead of having to set up a point of presence (PoP) in order to access IXs, wouldn’t it be great to directly connect to them using existing infrastructure?
Not only will such an arrangement reduce CAPEX and complexities when connecting to multiple IXs around the world; all deployments can be achieved in minutes instead of months. That, in a nutshell, is remote peering: “peering without requiring the setup of a PoP at peering points”.
Using a remote peering provider or an IX’s reseller partner, any organisation can add scalable bandwidth capacity on flexible terms to access a variety of IXs. The organisation will still need its own autonomous systems number (ASN) for peering with other members, while retaining control over peering and routing policies.
Without remote peering, organisations will be more involved in managing these aspects:
Traditional peering involves expenditure for engaging multiple suppliers to manage an organisation’s own hardware and colocation at the PoP where the IX is present. With remote peering, a specialist provider that already has hundreds of PoPs in place can set up global peering points within minutes.
- Buying your own connection
If the organisation is not present at the same PoP, it will have to buy interconnection between its data centre and the IXP. This also includes managing their own cross-connect.
IX membership and technical requirements, such as ANS, public IP addresses and configuring edge router.
- Network performance visibility
Traditional peering offers little to no visibility. A remote peering provider can offer better visibility over the network performance with real-time analytics.
- Deployment speed
While traditional peering can take weeks or longer to set up, a remote peering provider will achieve this for organisations within minutes. This kind of orchestrated remote peering service hinges on a control platform that has already established links with global IXs.
The use of remote peering paves the way for more organisations to peer at IXs globally. It is a faster and more cost-efficient method to access multiple IXPs, reducing the number of suppliers and overall network costs. Connectivity can be managed easily without the need to buy a physical port or deploy equipment at every exchange point.
Just to cite the growing adoption of remote peering – 130 of the 630 peers at AMS-IX are using this next-generation pathway. At DE-CIX, half of new entrants have selected remote peering.
Finally, in terms of cost-comparative advantages, the one-time capital expenditure to set up four PoPs is around US$1.1m. The operational expenditure for these four PoPs is a further US$15,000 per month. Factor-in the circuit costs for them at another monthly cost of US$6,000.
Yet, for the price of transport alone, an organisation can just pay about US$6,000 per month for remote peering across four PoPs at 1Gbps.
That means, organisations can deploy remote peering at a fraction of traditional peering with more scalability, flexibility, routing control and deployment speed to boot!
The Right Remote Peering Partner
- Peering 101: Experts from LINX and AMS-IX explain how internet exchanges work and the benefits of remote peering in the new normal.
- Peering Roundtable Discussion: Find out how the peering landscape will look like in the future.