Building IXP Critical Mass

Question

DrPeering - 


I would like to start up a small IXP. I understand the technology, I found a data center that will give me the space for a while.  I am still a little bit nervous.

-- Name Withheld

Answer

I can completely understand your nervousness.




Operating and Internet exchange point is a very strange business indeed:


What customers really want, you cannot promise. You might have a thriving peering community however you can not promise that anyone will peer with your new customer. This is a little bit like having a large clothing store full of inventory, but the seller has to be involved with the sale. The seller will look the buyer up and down to determine if they want the buyer to wear their clothes. It may be a very select brand.  So, one needs to curate a population of peers a little bit carefully.


As a result, the Internet exchange points can only really sell access to the peering population. Whether they will appear or not is out of your control.


The Internet exchange point business involves peering, a very hot and contentious topic among some in the community. Therefore, many peering agreements are protected under nondisclosure agreements. If somebody will appear with you, then they should surely peer with me, right?  Not necessarily, and therein lies the challenge.

 

Some tools in my book help address this -  see the peering matrix  that meshes peering policies across appearing population to find potentially fruitful introductions.

Ultimately, the successful Internet exchange point will have a collection of local, regional, and international network operators, each of which will appear selectively among their select group. Your job will be to find those like-minded network operators and facilitate their peering discussions.


The technology is easy part. Be community focused, count customer touch points and identify both pain points and who needs to be in your IXP to address those pain points. Don’t sell it as a good idea - people won’t jump to buy vitamins but they will readily buy pain killers.

Summary