IXP Solutions

IXP Introduction
Internet has become an essential tool for communication, commerce, and development in an increasingly globalized world. As the Internet usage increases globally and being part of the day to day activities in different organizations and individual users, the interconnection between Internet Service Providers (ISPs), content providers and users become more and more critical to creating the ‘network of networks’ that is the Internet. Governments around the world have given high priority to the development of their national Internet infrastructures to achieve higher levels of Internet penetration among their populations.
Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) activities have been supported and catalyzed by national and international stakeholders, including local Internet service provider’s information technology businesses and non-profit organizations that believe that the Internet can contribute substantially to the socio-economic development around the world.

In the other words:

  • IXP enables local networks to efficiently exchange information at a common point within a country rather than needing to exchange local Internet traffic overseas.
  • IXP is a component of Internet infrastructure that can increase the affordability and quality of the Internet for local communities.
  • IXP can interconnect Internet players directly to each other to exchange local traffic and reduce international transit costs while improving network performance and quality of service (QoS).


IXP Public vs. Private Peering


  An IXP provides is a single physical network infrastructure (often an Ethernet switch that creates a local area network) to which many ISPs (Internet Service Providers) can connect.

Any ISP that is connected to the IXP Switch can exchange traffic with any of the other ISPs connected to the IXP, using a single physical connection.

Such peering practice is called “public peering”

“private peering”, where two ISPs have a direct physical interconnection

IXPs are often referred to as “peering points” or “public peering points”.





IXP Do’s and Don’ts

  • IXPs are not, generally, involved in the peering agreements between connected ISPs;
  • IXPs do not provide services that compete with its members
  • IXPs do however have requirements that an ISP must meet to connect to the IXP;
  • All IXPs have rules for correct use of the IXP.


IXP Startup Challenges

  • Most IXP established will experience low traffic volumes. This in itself is a cause for concern for most members interested in helping to establish an IXP
  • The incumbent operator often resists connecting to the IXP. This is attributed to the perception that they will lose their traffic by peering with customers.
  • The lack of full technical understanding about how the IXP operates and sufficient technical capacity to setup the IXP is a hidden concern for some operators.
  • The existing regulatory regime and policies may hinder the growth of the IXP. For instance policies that inhibit competition on broadband terrestrial infrastructure may limit the options available for local interconnection
  • In many emerging Internet economies there are challenges on broadband terrestrial infrastructure (such as fiber and copper) that range from availability, costs, and quality of service.
  • Where broadband terrestrial infrastructure challenges are prevalent, the use of wireless solutions in both open and closed spectrum is dominant but prone to interference resulting in poor reliability. As a result, this can affect the use of the IXP as a reliable peering point.
  • Implementing a sustainable model to support the IXP operations is often met with some resistance. This is due to the perceived low value derived by members from peering at the new IXP.


IXPs Institutional and Operational Models

A variety of institutional models have been adopted to operate IXPs. They fall into four categories:

  • Nonprofit industry associations of ISPs
  • Operator-neutral commercial and for-profit companies
  • University and government agencies
  • Informal associations of networks


IXP Commercial vs. Non-Commercial

  • Most European IXPs grew from non-commercial ventures, such as research organizations
  • Most African IXPs were established by ISP Associations and Universities
  • By comparison, in the US the majority of IXPs are commercial, and some commercially run IXPs have emerged in Europe
  • Most of the emerging IXPs have opted for a non- commercial approach.

IXP Neutrality

  • Whether commercial or not, virtually all IXPs are owned and managed neutrally with respect to carriers, ISPs and co-location providers.
  • An example that is often quoted is a group of IXPs in the US, which are owned and run by a carrier. The only circuits that may be used to gain access to the IXPs must be purchased from that carrier, thus producing a monopoly situation.
  • Many ISPs have expressed strong feelings about the importance of neutrality of IXPs, and most of the larger European IXPs attribute their success to their neutrality.
  • IXPs generally prohibit themselves from carrying out any activity that may compete with member/customer business activities.
  • If an IXP competes with members/customers it could lose their support.
    The important point is that the ownership and management of the IXP should always remain neutral.



IXP Equipment

  • The IXP Core is an Ethernet Switch (Mandatory)
    • Therefore invest in the best and most expandable equipment that its financial circumstances allow.
    • Having 2 switches is good for redundancy if the funds can allow.
  • Address Space (Mandatory)
  • The IXP will require IP address space for the peering Switch fabric. IP addresses will be procured from the
  • Regional Internet Registry (RIR)
  • Other Mandatory IXP equipment: Where the IXP is located in a datacenter other mandatory equipment are built into the facility. Where the decision is to host the IXP outside a datacenter facility, additional equipment will be required and are discussed in the IXP location slide.
  • Route Server (Optional)
    • During the initial stages of setup having a Route Server provides ease of configuration for new members
    • Direct peering between the IXP members can be implemented in the absence of a Route Server
  • Web and Mail Servers (Optional)
    • An IXP will require servers to host email, mailing list, website and monitoring (usage stats, etc)
    • Where there are limited funds, members can offer to host the services on their services.
  • Transit Router (Optional)
    • This will be to provide Internet access to the IXP website, email and staff Internet access.
    • Transit can be provided through a members IXP Router on a different interface.
  • Route Collector (Optional)
    • Also referred to as a looking glass which assists IXP members with troubleshooting. It can also be used to
    • collect routes for statistics measurements.

IXP Location

  • The location of the IXP is very important.
  • The IXP location should be neutral and low cost.
  • In considering the IXP location the following factors should be considered;
    • Space, Power, Environmental Control, Cabling, Security, Support, Access to terrestrial Infrastructure


IXP Services

  • There are a number of basic services that an IXP can offer to its members beyond the shared switch
  • infrastructure.
  • These services are at the discretion of each IXP and do not in any way compete with its membership.
  • The following is a list of basic services that can be offered by the IXP
    • Route-Server
    • Website
    • Private Interconnects
    • Mailing list
    • IPv6 and Multicast Services
    • Member route hosting/co-locationMultiple Site Access/Locations
    • Route collector
    • Industry association and policy
    • engagements activities


Human Resources

  • It is likely that a start up IXP will not have any directly employed staff.
  • However, it is important to think about the role and skill sets of the personnel required to run the IXP.
  • Roles and Skill
    • Management
    • Engineering and Technical Support
    • Office/Admin
    • Sales and Marketing
  • Future Roles;
    • Future roles will require more specialized staff such as systems administration, webmaster, public relations, financial control and legal representation.



ALTADBIR’s IXP Layer 2&3 Solutions

ALTADBIR as a leading company in IP-base networks in the country and Middle East provides two types of the IXPs layer 2 and layer 3 to the customers considering to their current and future situations.

Layer 2 vs Layer 3 Solutions

Layer 2 Solution

    • IXP team does not need routing knowledge
    • Easy to get started
    • More complicated to distribute over wide area
    • ISPs free to set up peering agreements with each other as they wish

Layer 3 Solution

    • IXP team requires good BGP knowledge
    • Rely on 3rd party for BGP configuration
    • Less freedom on who peers with whom
    • Usually competes with IXP membership
    • Tends to be distributed over wide area

Layer 2 vs Layer 3 Summary

    • Layer 2 is a REAL internet exchange point
    • Layer 3 is marketing concept used by Transit ISPs (Is NOT a real IXP)

Following section presents DOURAN’s solutions in layer 2 and layer 3 IXP configurations.


ALTADBIR’s IXP Layer 2 Solution:

  • Two switches for redundancy
  • ISPs use dual routers for redundancy or loadsharing
  • Offer services for the “common good”
    • Internet portals and search engines
    • DNS TLD, News, NTP server
    • Routing Registry and Looking Glass
  • Requires neutral IXP management
    • usually funded equally by IXP participants
    • 24×7 cover, support, value add services
  • Secure and neutral location
  • Configuration
    • private address space if non-transit and no value add services
    • ISPs require AS, basic IXP does not
  • Network Security Considerations
    • LAN switch needs to be securely configured
    • Management routers require TACACS+ authentication, vtysecurity
  • IXP services must be behind router(s) with strong filters



ALTADBIR’s IXP Layer 3 Solution:

  • Two routers for redundancy
  • ISPs use dual routers for redundancy or loadsharing
  • Offer services for the “common good”
    • Internet portals and search engines
    • DNS TLD, News, NTP servers
  • Routing Registry and Looking Glass
  • Requires neutral management
    • Usually funded equally by participants
    • 24×7 cover, support, value add services
    • BGP configuration skills essential
  • Secure and neutral location
  • Configuration
    • private address space if non-transit and no value add services
    • ISPs and IXP require AS
  • Network Security Considerations
    • Core IXP router(s) require strong security, preferably with BGP neighbour authentication
  • Management routers require TACACS + authentication, vty security


Acknowledgement and Attribution
This presentation contains content and information originally developed and maintained by the ALTADBIR and provided for the customers.