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With around 900 members from the United Kingdom, Europe, United States, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa, the London Internet Exchange (LINX) is one of the largest neutral Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) in the world.

It is our pleasure to have Jennifer Holmes, Chief Commercial Officer, LINX, talk to us about LINX’s journey and share her opinions on the future of peering.

Epsilon: LINX has seen various phases of transformation since the beginning of the decade. From upgrading your network infrastructure to launching the ConneXions reseller programme. What would you say are the main highlights and why?

Jennifer: Highlights have definitely been the relaunch of our LON2 network in London as a disaggregated peering platform, which was a huge engineering advancement for the industry. The platform now uses Edgecore Networks and IP Infusion as the hardware and software solution instead of using a traditional single switch provider. This has allowed us to significantly reduce our running costs for the LON2 network and pass those savings onto our members.

Another highlight, looking further back, was the upgrades in 2012 before the Olympics and introduction of 100GE ports. Both were effectively delivered to a strict timeline and the peering Local Area Networks (LAN) managed to handle the massive increase in traffic over the Olympics with ease.

Epsilon: It has been more than five years since LINX expanded to the United States with LINX NoVA. How different is it to operate an IXP in Europe vs the US?

Jennifer: The way IXPs traditionally operate in the US is completely different to IXPs in Europe. They tend to be run by the data centre operators themselves as profit-making enterprises. In Europe, IXPs are typically non-profit, membership organisations that operate to benefit their members.

The exchange that we opened in North America five years ago was designed on the European model. Our day to day running of the exchange has been very similar to our other IXPs. The difference would be communicating the benefits of our model to our potential members there, as they are used to the US model. By far, the results have been extremely positive.

Epsilon: It’s great to hear how LINX making great strides in the US! Let’s look at something more recent. In September 2019, LINX together with DE-CIX and AMS-IX launched the common API to automate the ordering and provisioning of peering and remote peering services. Could you tell us a little more about the project?

Jennifer: The project started in 2018 and we formally announced it at the European Peering Forum in September 2019. The key motivation came from the fact that all three of the large Internet Exchanges (IX) were looking to develop APIs for their partners to use when connecting remote members. Across the board, we share a number of common resellers, Epsilon for instance, so it made sense to work together to create a common API which could be implemented across the three IXs.
The idea is to make it as easy as possible for our partners to connect remote members to the IXPs. Connecting more remote members will increase the Autonomous System Number (ASN) count and traffic at the exchanges, which is beneficial to all of our members. It has been a pleasure to work alongside our European friends to make this project a reality!
Epsilon: Collaboration is indeed an important factor in innovating and moving the industry forward. On the other hand, what do you think will be the biggest IX trends in 2020? Especially with the upward trend in IoT and more people being connected globally in recent years.
Jennifer: I think that the introduction of the 400G port will be an interesting development over the next year or so as our members upgrade their equipment and start to ask for this as a product requirement. The IXs will have to test new equipment and create new products to enable this new level of capacity for their members.
There is an increasing trend with the Content Delivery Networks (CDN) to move traffic to the edge in order to deliver their traffic to where it needs to be more effectively. We may see a need for the large IXs to continue their initiatives to open smaller exchange points in regional locations to serve this traffic at the edge.
We also expect that IXs will see an increase in the less traditional networks joining to exchange their traffic. More FinTech and enterprise companies are digitalising their networks, and IXs will play a large part in this digitalisation. It will create a need for the IXs to create new ways to communicate with their members and potential members, as they see their membership base growth moving slightly away from more traditional network providers.
Epsilon: Looks like the peering landscape is only going to get bigger and we are very excited to hear that!
Service experience is critical today as consumers demand digital services to be always available. In the next 18-24 months, which sectors do you think will see more demands for peering at IXs and how does LINX plan to meet those needs?
Jennifer: I believe payment gateway providers, banks and building societies, government departments as well as oil, gas and automotive industries are all looking to redesign their networks to include IXPs and peering. IoT is also obviously a huge sector that will become much more involved in peering, taking larger capacity connections at peering exchange platforms.
Organisations across these industries often need more information when establishing peering connections, such as security questionnaires and guidance on how to get the most out of their peering relationships.
LINX is currently developing new products to assist these sectors with their peering requirements to ensure that they are getting the most out of their membership at the exchange. We are also continually updating and creating new literature and online help for networks who are venturing into the peering community for the first time.
Epsilon: We began our partnership with LINX in 2016. How do you see this partnership grow and where does Epsilon fit into LINX’s future plans?
Jennifer: Epsilon is one of LINX’s most successful reseller partners, bringing large members from all over the world to London so that they can access the peering platform in the simplest way. I’m also excited to have Epsilon as one of the pilot partners for the API project, positioning the company at the forefront of being able to connect new remote peers with ease. LINX relies on all of our partners to be an advocate for peering in the UK. We look forward to continuing working with Epsilon to make peering for existing and potential members as smooth a process as possible.
Epsilon: Thank you, Jennifer!
Get in touch with us today to learn how you can peer remotely at LINX using our Remote Peering solution
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