How do we hire a peering coordinator?
Thanks for the note.
I am a peering coordinator fan. I have always admired peering coordinators for their unique combinations of skills: technical, business, strategy, legal, and interpersonal. I will admit that I also lean on their their travel savvy from time to time. I will explain the peering coordinator job requirements,
Technical. The good peering coordinators understand the Internet technology, their implementation, how it meshes with the rest of the industry, and the various tradeoffs that are involved when deciding on vendors, network interconnection locations, peering andtransit purchase strategies, etc. During initial discussions these network discussions help peers determine if the company is sending the networking expertise that indicates that the company is worth peering with and that the peering coordinator will make the peering process painless. It takes time to configure, test and verify the peering is working properly, so is this a partner that will need hand holding, or will they get the peering configuration right the first time? A good peering coordinator will be able to hold their own in a general Internet technology discussion.
Business. Above all, peering has to make sense from a business perspective, and the peering coordinator needs to help make the case for both parties. It doesn’t do any good to negotiate peering with a network engineer who is unable to convince anyone back at the office that the peering is a business rational endeavor for them.
Strategy. There is then of course the peering strategy where we determine where to extend the network, and which IXPs peers to target. In the peering workshops we explore and discuss a few dozen transit and peering strategies. Some of these strategies get pretty involved, particularly when they include broader business relationships that include peering as one component. The architecture and execution of an international peering strategy is a bit more involved as well and requires local ground truth in order to ensure success and to properly set expectations and adjust course as needed. Developing and executing a peering strategy is part of a network architecture job which is why you sometimes see these two jobs (architect and peering coordinator) combined.
Legal. Most peering arrangements provide about equal value to both parties, and as such, are handshake agreements and do not generally require contracts or legal review. This streamlines the peering process. Microsoft network engineers for example tell me that peering, especially via route serves, or peering with no contractual obligations, are very quick to implement. If peering contracts are required and the Microsoft contract is acceptable, then again peering can also be set up pretty quickly. But if lawyers need to review documents, then the process takes a while, perhaps towards a year or so. The peering coordinator is involved in setting up their peering policy and peering strategy and executing peering initiatives working through any associated peering documentation and contracts.
Interpersonal. Above all, the peering coordinator talk to each other for a living. They interact with other peers in fora around the globe. Since many engineers prefer working with computers and various technologies more than working with other people, it is difficult to find people that can do both well. I remember seeing a resume for a peering coordinator position where the person had deep protocol and hardware expertise, but under outside activities he wrote:
“I also interact well with humans.”
Doesn’t that just warm your heart?
Peering coordinators need to be comfortable meeting people, enjoy discussions over meals and drinks, and have an interest in the interconnection field. You can not phone this in. There must be an intellectual curiosity, a thirst to understand the peering ecosystems, the network players, their inclinations, and to find the angles where peering will be seen as an acceptable interconnection method. These peering coordinators like to talk and there is a wealth of intel available to the interested and motivated peering coordinator. Stories of who was able to obtain peering, who was de-peered and more importantly, why? An astute student of human psychology will find these skills very helpful in navigating the political drama and heated debates within this community.
It is worth pointing out that public speaking is a plus, if not essential. To impact the broader community one needs to influence people. To make broad changes in opinion or action, a persuasive logical appeal is not enough; many times the combination of a solid presentation needs to be followed up with leading one-on-one and group discussions. There are few that can navigate through these obstacles and pull the community together.
Attend Peering Fora. These days peering forums are run by exchange point operators as a collective. The Global Peering Forum, the European Peering Forum, etc. bring peers together at hotels or on cruises (which turn out to be less expensive), and facilitate the interaction between peers. This is not charity - the more peering that occurs, the more value the peers derive and the more valuable and stickier the exchange point becomes. Peering forums are a win-win endeavor.
Travel Savvy. Travel is required. Some of these guys are on the road constantly. I was during my early years at Equinix - maybe 90% of my time was spent on the road or preparing to go to the next conferences or customer events.
In some parts of the world there is no “Peering Coordinator” title. In many parts of Asia for example they simply have “Network Engineers” or “Network Architecture” positions for all aspects of the job.
Peering Coordinator Job Description. A friend asked me for a sample “Peering Coordinator” job description, and rather than make one up I asked a couple folks to send me their postings as shown below.
I hope this helps