Internet exchange points play a key role in the Internet ecosystem. Today, there are more than 400 of them in more than 100 countries around the world. IXPs offer a neutral and shared switch fabric where customers can exchange traffic with each other.
Simply put, an Internet exchange point can be considered a large level 2 (L2) switch. Each client network connected to the IXP connects one or more of its routers to this switch via Ethernet interfaces. Routers on different networks can establish peering sessions by exchanging routing information via BGP and then sending traffic via the Ethernet switch.
IXPs allow operators to locally interconnect one or more customer networks through their level 2 networks. This leads to a more resilient Internet, improves bandwidth usage and reduces the cost and latency of interconnections. To avoid the tedious implementation of bilateral peering sessions, most IXPs nowadays use route servers. This simplifies peering by allowing IXP clients to peer with other networks via a single BGP session to a route server.
Whereas in the early 1990s, IXPs were based on FDDI or ATM, today the standard interconnectivity service is based on Ethernet. However, the level 2 switch fabric of an IXP is also evolving, moving from simple Ethernet switches on a single site connected via a standard local area network to IP/MPLS protocol switches distributed over several sites requiring WAN connectivity over optical fibre.
As a result, with more locations and increasing bandwidth, the connectivity network becomes more efficient, flexible and scalable. It is therefore an important strategic asset for IXP operators.
It should be noted that although switch fabrics based on IP/MPLS are mainly used today, there are other approaches such as VXLAN. These methods, which do not change the basic topology of the architecture, may be deployed more often in the future.
It should also be mentioned that to improve the resilience of the IXP infrastructure, PXCs are increasingly being used between the client and PE routers. In the event of a failure or scheduled maintenance, the PXC can switch from the client router to a backup PE router.
Innovation is accelerated with disintegration, SDN, NFV and network automation. Indeed, these new technologies are increasingly being used in telecommunications networks and IXPs. However, as IXP networks are generally more localized with older infrastructure and services than telecommunications networks, they may be the ideal place to introduce new network concepts.
Optical media is making progress inspired by the automation and openness of network technologies and offers innovative, ultra-dense and efficient systems. Many IXPs deploy these technologies to increase capacity while reducing costs, ground space and power consumption.
The disintegration of routers is also widespread in DC. Instead of using routers based on bulky chassis, SDN-controlled, white label L2/L3 switches using more scalable leaf-spine technologies are preferred. The use of white labels with a configurable and hardware-independent NOS provides greater flexibility and allows IXP operators to select only the features they really need.
Source : LightWave