Two months back I put out a post you may have read entitled OPEN IX COMING TO THE USA. I was thrilled to engage quickly after this was released with almost a dozen readers wanting to learn more and also provide more clarity as to what was, and was not, happening with Open IX. One specific conversation I would like to share here as it helps fill in the cracks of what I both didn’t know and didn’t fully understand at the time I dropped the post above.
The conversation was with Mike Hughes (former CTO of the London Internet Exchange) and went along these lines…
Mike Hughes: Sean, I’d like to point out that you’ve managed to conflate Open-IX, which is a peering community-driven effort to improve choice, transparency and competitiveness in US peering (all things which the open market has dismally failed to address), with Euro-IX which is rather different, being a trade association of IXP operators.
Sean Patrick Tario: Thank you for the feedback Mike… since I posted this last month I’ve learned a bit more, and agree, but want to make sure the content is ACCURATE when I update it… so to this extent would the likes of France IX, LU-CIX, amsix, DESIX, LINX and TOR-IX be more similar to Open IX or are you saying there is nothing similar to around the world that equates to the type of co-op managed peering exchange model Open IX is rolling out?
I’ve talked to a few “in the know” about this often over the last few months and from what I pulled out of these conversations Open IX really isn’t anything new… just new to the US.
There’s nothing quite the same as Open IX.
The exchanges you list above are run on similar principles that Open IX is driving for, of openness, transparency and accountability to the IX participants – I’ll avoid calling them “customers” as in some cases they are “members” as well and actually hold equal voting stakes in the IX operating company.
But the key difference is that they all evolved individually from their own local communities. There may have been some overlap between the communities, but they were all separate.
The other key difference is that all these organisations actually operate and manage exchange fabrics.
As I understand it Open IX doesn’t plan to operate the exchange fabrics and cross-connects themselves, but instead help bootstrap multiple exchange operators into the market, by helping define types and levels of service, degrees of expected technical competency and drive for transparent and fair pricing, all things which are present in the European model.
They will also effectively “endorse” IX operators who meet the Open IX ethos and specifications.
So many of the US networks, especially the big content players such as Google, Akamai and Netflix (all of whom are active in establishing Open IX), have network footprint and peering in Europe and like the service they receive from the European IXs. They see how the co-operative and accountable model which never really took off in the US before (with notable exceptions such as in Seattle) benefits their business objectives.
Smaller guys, or even the Big 3 Euro IXPs (AMSIX, LINX and DECIX) see a significant risk in building large scale IX deployments in the US. There’s the startup costs, and the costs of taking on a dominant incumbent such as Equinix who have consolidated their strong position in the interconnect market over the years and have the backup and resources to hang-tough for a long time.
Open IX seems to be about bridging the risk. All of the Euro Big 3 are now making moves to do something in the US, based on the fact that Open IX shows that their style is welcome in the US itself. It also helps that they already have established communities and experience in managing such multi-stakeholder operations.
Indeed, the ethos behind Open IX isn’t new. It’s what’s been driving and growing European peering for the last 20-or-so years – since the days of the Thicknet “firehose” forerunner of AMSIX. Open IX is US operators importing the Euro ethos.
It seems that commercially run model of interconnect has failed the US IXP community one time too many, and the market has failed to redress the balance, so people have decided it needs a shove in the right direction.
The other thing to note is that there have been more developments since then… DECIX issued a press release that they are planning activities in New York, while there has been some controversy at AMS-IX over it’s own expansion to the US, I’ve written a short item about it on my own blog…
AMS IX Green Light to Incorporate US Entity
Some folk are happy about it, others less so. Quite divisive among a number of the long-standing Netherlands based members.
If all this succeeds in doing is bring the 3 big EU IXPs into direct competition (rather than the “friendly” indirect competition of the past), is that a good thing for their communities at home?