What is interconnection?
Interconnection is the exchange of traffic over a private physical or virtual connection. This enables networks to privately exchange large amounts of data over dedicated connections in a fast, direct and secure way. Interconnection is significantly more cost-effective than paying an upstream transit provider for an equivalent amount of traffic. It also gives you much more control over the routes your traffic takes and helps reduce round-trip time.
Interconnection has been an important feature of the Internet for decades. The latest developments in technology, network design, the data centre market and traffic patterns have made interconnection more relevant to a wide range of businesses. But what interconnection options do you have and which one is right for your network?
What interconnection strategy is right for you?
The easy answer is: this depends. If you are present in a data centre, your interconnection options vastly increase. To connect to a network in the same data centre, you can arrange a Private Network Interconnect (PNI). This is a dedicated connection between two networks established by paying the data centre a monthly fee for a cross-connect. This ensures fast, direct connections between your networks. On the downside, this adds to your OPEX and might not scale effectively. Every PNI involves a negotiation and, usually, some form of contract between the networks. This can take time. Each PNI also needs its own cross connect and these costs stack up fast.
Why interconnect at an Internet Exchange?
Another option is to join an interconnection platform such as an Internet Exchange (IX). You will still need a cross connect to link your network to the IX. But with an IX, one cross connect enables you to interconnect with hundreds of different networks including Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) and Cloud Service Providers (CSPs). You will also be able to access a range of interconnection services.
IXes provide route servers. These are extremely useful and enable you to automatically interconnect with many networks without needing to make any special arrangements or agreements. For smaller networks, or enterprise customers who are looking to include interconnection in their IT strategy, IX route servers are an excellent tool.
How do you interconnect between data centres?
The bigger data centres operating in multiple locations sometimes provide interconnection across metro or regional areas for networks wanting to interconnect. However, the limitation here is that you both have to be present with the same data centre operator. The prices here can also be prohibitively expensive.
There are also interconnection providers that enable you to interconnect between different data centres across metro and regional areas. These transport services can be an excellent option if you are looking at a small number of interconnects and want to ensure fast, redundant and secure connections.
If you join an IX with multiple locations, you can also make use of remote interconnection (often known as remote peering). You use your connection to the IX at your Point of Presence to connect to any network on the same IX (regardless of where they are located). The IX takes care of securely transporting the traffic and will often provide redundant routes so you can be sure your interconnections are resilient and reliable. If you are looking to expand your network into new areas without the risk of CAPEX costs, this is a good option.
Who interconnects at an IX?
For many years, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) have used interconnection at an IX as a central part of their network strategy. This has provided them with high-capacity, low latency connections together with the flexibility to scale quickly. Today enterprise networks are increasingly interconnecting across IXes for similar benefits. Interconnection is now widely used by enterprises working in sectors such as cybersecurity, health, fintech, gaming and the Internet of Things (IoT).
What are the benefits of interconnecting at an IX?
There are many benefits of interconnecting at an IX. These will vary depending on network type and business area. Some of the most common benefits are:
- Cost effective, low latency connections
- Scalable connectivity with just one cross connect
- Improved network performance and redundancy
- Increased security, stability, and resilience
- Increased routing control
- More diverse routes preventing single point of failure
- Route servers making it easy to exchange traffic with many networks
- Access to a flexible range of interconnection services
- Future-proofed networks
As more organisations move to hybrid, multi cloud IT strategies, interconnection will continue to play a key role. If you have any questions about interconnection and how it can help your network, contact one of our interconnection experts here.