The LINX effect: how important are Internet Exchanges to global connectivity?

15 September 2016

By: Mike Hollands

It’s easy to forget just how crucial the Internet now is to our day-to-day lives. Whether we’re working, playing, shopping or studying, we demand rapid access to the online content and services we want, anywhere and anytime.

For the business world, ubiquitous connectivity is even more important. Whether the focus is on delivering services, content or physical goods, every business is now a digital business and no one can afford to be knocked offline. So, what does it take to keep this digital superhighway running smoothly?

All change please

We often think of the Internet as a monolithic entity, but look closer and it’s actually a fractured combination of different networks, all communicating via a common protocol. To keep our digital world moving, networks need to exchange huge volumes of IP traffic quickly and efficiently, in a process known as peering.

Like the many others worldwide, The London Internet Exchange (LINX) is a vital part of the Internet’s backbone. It brings order to the Web’s potential chaos by providing an open forum for public peering and a fast, efficient path to global connectivity. Once an organisation is connected to LINX, its IP traffic can find the path of least resistance to its destination, delivering lower latency and improved performance.

Without such easy access to public peering, network operators would need to build a myriad of costly private connections amongst each other. Time and money would be wasted connecting networks that may only share small amounts of traffic.

Without Internet Exchanges, IP traffic would often be forced to travel via slower, more expensive and congested routes to its ultimate destination via upstream transit networks. That’s why LINX is a strong advocate of regional peering, recently introducing local exchanges across the UK, as well as LINX NoVA in the United States, to reduce latency and keep traffic local.

Make the right connections

Today, a symbiotic relationship has emerged between Internet Exchanges and colocation data centres that makes them an ideal combination for networks, content providers and other customers.

Most Internet Exchanges now have nodes in colocation facilities throughout their home city, such as the eleven LINX access points in London. For colocation customers, this means fast, low-cost access to global connectivity via a single cross connect. With close proximity to an Internet Exchange node, organisations can avoid the need for more expensive WAN links and maximise network performance.

Combining colocation and public peering brings other benefits as well. Inside a colocation data centre, a plethora of major networks, content providers and other organisations are just a single cross connect away. Customers that are sharing high volumes of traffic via an Internet Exchange can make informed investments in private peering to maximise performance and cost-efficiency.

Harness global connectivity

Since 1994, LINX has been an integral part of the modern Internet. Today, it provides peering services to over 700 member networks and is the third largest Internet Exchange in the world by traffic volumes, ensuring a fast and efficient route to global connectivity.

Customers can easily connect to a LINX node from Interxion’s London data centre, located in the heart of the City. As the only LINX core node outside of London’s Docklands, connecting via Interxion also provides a geographically diverse location for network service providers looking to improve or add resilience.

With over 80 networks present in our London campus, including BT, our customers also face no challenges setting up private peering connections. By combining peering from LINX with colocation services from Interxion, customers can strike the right balance of public and private connectivity, develop new opportunities and deliver superior services.