Open Internet Exchange Movement Organizing

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Role for Data Centers

The Open IX initiative has conducted surveys of U.S. providers and held several meetings to outline their plans, including one at a recent meeting of the North American Network Operators’ Group (NANOG) and another last week in New York. Both meetings were attended by “virtually all” of the major data center service providers, according to Hannigan. The largest data center landlord, Digital Realty Trust, has already announced its intention to earn endorsement.

“This is great for the entire industry – from the large CDNs, content providers and the end users,” said John Sarkis, Vice President of Connectivity and Carrier Operations at Digital Realty. “The current state of affairs, as an end user, is that service isn’t that great. In Europe, things run more efficiently and effectively. The Internet community here in North America wants to adopt the open structure.”

Open IX will be open to all data centers that meet its criteria. That includes Equinix, which is the leading player in the U.S. interconnection, hosting more than 110,000 cross-connects in its colocation centers. “To the extent that this is seen as a threat to Equinix, it’s because they have so many cross-connects,” said Souter.

What About Equinix?

Temkin noted that Equinix has been involved in the Open IX discussions. “They’ve sent people who have collaborated and seem genuinely interested,” said Temkin. “They do have a lot of power in certain markets.”

While Equinix is the dominant player in the U.S. peering paradigm, they know the European model well from their participation in LINX, the AMS-IX in Amsterdam and DE-CIX in Frankfurt. “We’re trying to make it so everyone can be included,” said Hannigan. “I do think it can work in (Equinix) facilities.”

Equinix didn’t want to comment specifically on Open IX. “Equinix’s view is that competition in the marketplace is good and ultimately benefits customers,” the company said in a statement.

Opportunity in the Suburbs?

It’s likely that if Open IX grows and succeeds, it will result in a more distributed ecosystem in which smaller data center operators would be able to offer exchange-level interconnections, including facilities that are some distance from existing network hubs.

“Various vendors have tried solutions in the suburbs,” said Temkin. “No one will move because you can’t get the connection densities.” Easing the ability to connect in secondary facilities,could extend that exchange ecosystem. For example, Equinix hosts a LINX node in Slough, 30 miles west of the exchange’s original site in London’s Telehouse. That could also have reliability benefits.

“One of the biggest problems we see in the current environment, is that numerous cities, all of the density is in one building,” said Temkin. He cites 350 East Cermak in Chicago as one example. “If something happens to that building, the Internet goes down.”

Hannigan says Open IX has no particular deployment strategy. It has surveyed members to gauge interest in different makets, but will be guided by who has interest and applies for endorsement.

“There’s definitely room in the market for two exchanges,” said Hannigan. “It has to start organically. For the most part, everything will operate by consensus. The Internet has a long history of volunteers coming together to solve problems.”

DCK Industry Analyst Jason Verge contributed to this story.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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