Case Study – LINX
The London Internet Exchange (LINX) is one of the world’s largest internet exchange points (IXP). Founded in 1994 by a consortium of network operators to allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and content networks to exchange traffic between their networks, it has played a pivotal role in the growth of internet use in the UK.
By allowing network operators to interconnect directly via its exchange, rather than through one or more third party networks, LINX helps to reduce the cost to operators of routing internet traffic within the UK and to the rest of the world. Direct interconnection provided by LINX avoids the need for data to travel to other cities (or even continents) to get from one network to another, thus significantly reducing latency and offering greater control and resilience for customer traffic.
The Initial challenge
The Linx – Geo relationship commenced in 2009 when Geo was chosen from a number of network operators for fibre connectivity to provide a diverse ring from their existing Docklands sites to three new data centres.
This solution needed to be capable of reliably delivering the gigabits of bandwidth required by LINX on a minute-by-minute basis with the minimum of latency. LINX also needed control of this fibre optic network, as managing its own infrastructure allows the exchange to more easily scale bandwidth to users’ requirements. This scalability of bandwidth was a challenge the organisation was adamant the new solution needed to meet. High levels of availability and reliability were also critical. To meet the business needs of this not-for-profit company, it also needed to be cost-effective and secure.
Geo was selected as it could offer access to the newest optical fibre, giving it a technical edge over the competition. In addition Geo showed from the very earliest stages that it was willing to work collaboratively with LINX to get the project right.
Geo proceeded to project manage the delivery of the fibre optic ring between LINX’s existing Docklands presence and three new datacentres. The main challenge lay in Geo co-ordinating the efforts of various suppliers to meet strict project deadlines. The connectivity between the three data centres included seamless integration of third party fibre on part of the route. LINX was impressed by Geo’s dedication in offering the best possible solution, and its ability to work with various stakeholders to ensure that this logistically complex project as delivered early.
Three years on: Network expansion – relationship strengthened
In 2011, LINX has extended its presence into over 10 sites in one of the most bandwidth intensive locations in the world. At peak, the exchange carries in excess of one Terabit (Tb/s) of internet traffic per second over its Local Area Networks (LANs), with a further 650 Gigabits (Gb/s) estimated to be directed over private networks. The exchange now has nearly 400 members with over 850 member ports.
With the increase in bandwidth demand, member ports and a changing network topology, the exchange sought to improve diversity, capacity and resilience both on existing switching platforms and its fibre routes. With one of its two existing switching platforms being migrated to a new provider, the LAN network needed a diverse route. Given the growing importance of internet traffic as a medium for delivering private, government and commercial communications, LINX recognised that adding this extra bandwidth at more geographically diverse locations would make the exchange more resilient.
With a proven track record with LINX, Geo’s proposition impressed with the resilience its sewer based network was able to provide and its ability to meet the service performance required between these sites.
Geo’s footprint within London is uniquely resilient and secure. Unlike most communications routes, which follow the road network and are therefore, vulnerable to damage during maintenance and construction work, Geo’s fibre within London is situated deep within the city’s sewers. This means Geo can offer true route diversity and a network of modern fibre that extends throughout London.
The fibre based 200km route, allows LINX to manage both current and future needs – as more members join and more sites are connected, the organisation is able to increase capacity as required at no extra cost. The six routes will be delivered in phases based on priority stipulated by LINX. The first phase (route) was delivered in July 2011 with the remainder to be completed by autumn 2011.
The 200km route will carry 320Gb/s of traffic from nearly 400 internet providers.
• LINX now has access to the UK’s most modern and advanced fibre optic infrastructure
• A more reliable network with a diverse, secure route through London’s sewer system, with very little chance of any network outage – over four years without a cable cut
• Ability to seamlessly integrate third party fibre for a complete solution• Diversity for connectivity to six new sites
• ‘Ownership’ of this fibre optic network allows LINX to more easily scale bandwidth to users’ requirements
• Increased capacity improves LINX’s capabilities and led to its members increasing or moving capacity to new locations.
London Internet Exchange (LINX) is a not-for- profit organisation that’s grown to become one of the world’s largest internet exchange points. Founded in 1994 by a consortium of network operators to enable ISPs and content networks to exchange traffic, it has played a pivotal role in the growth of internet use in the UK.