Content delivery alternatives: Intertwining of IXPs and CDNs

8 Dec 2016 10:00h - 11:30h

Event report

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The workshop explored the advantages and disadvantages of implementing autonomous systems connected to existing Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), as an alternative source of content for medium and small ISPs, in low economic capacity regions, that cannot benefit from the widely accepted initiative to enhance Content Delivery Network (CDN) chain, by implementing CDN servers within large ISPs infrastructures closer to the user.

The moderator, Mr Hartmut Glaser, Executive Secretary of the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee/ in Brazil, welcomed all present, especially the Canadian Internet Exchange (CAIX) association, which is the newest. He explained how they successfully created an IXP and attracted content through CDNs connected to them. He stated that the CDNs provided the servers while the IXP provided support free of charge at the start. Space and power were provided by the Data Centers. The two largest ISPs hosted two cache flows: Google and Acimai. He concluded that the result was an increase in Internet speed, low prices, and an increase in penetration from 1% in 2007 to 90% today. It was a successful case.

Mr Alejandro Guzmán, Content Distribution Manager for Latin-America at Google Inc., stated that his profession is centred on IXPs, ISPs, and CDNs so he would explain the advantages of IXPs. IXPs make ISPs lower costs, and this in turn enables users to get services at better prices. He therefore concluded that IXPs are a good solution, although it may not work in all cases, and that is why Google helps IXPs to develop. He concluded that IXPs have to be open, cost effective, and good for the market to enjoy all the advantages.

Ms Jane Coffin, responsible for development strategy at the Internet Society, spoke on content. She said for non-competitive markets with small ISPs forming an IXP, it is difficult to attract content to the network. She stated that content can be attracted by:

  • Local content development
  • Hosting capacity
  • Readiness of ISPs

She quoted an example in Rwanda where they are working to host 10.000 sites, and the main issue is the unwillingness of the ISPs to bring the traffic for hosting.

Mr Martin Levee, Cloud Fairs, said he built backbones in the past and now he is involved in content distribution. He has mastered the importance of IXPs. He noted in the field that local providers are not peering among themselves, which he said is foolish.  He cited the example of Brazil which has 26 IXPs, but one of them is responsible for 80% of the traffic and 80% of the interconnected ISPs. He said this is too much concentration.

Mr Antonio Moreiras, a Computer Engineer at in charge of IPv6 dissemination, presented two models of CDN.  He said one model is used in places with many ISPs and big ISPs with big Data Centers, while in the second model CDNs place their caches in ISP networks. This only works for big ISPs. Moreiras explained that for small ISPs, both models are not profitable because they cannot connect to big ISPs very far from them, and they are not big enough to place cache on their networks. He used this to explain that ISPs in Brazil choose IXPs with content, justifying why one IXP carries 80% of the traffic. He concluded by proposing a model where the caches are shared between many ISPs and the cost is shared between the ISP and IXP.

Mr Henrique Faulhaber from the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee presented the open city project where they are currently discussing on new projects to empower IXPs in small cities. He added that 10 years ago, they brought content from outside the country and Miami but today all ISPs are going to São Paulo for content. He was pleased with the interest shown by Google in this project. He said in Brazil, Google accounts for 27% of traffic, Facebook 15%, Netflix 11%, and Microsoft 6%.

The session ended with a Q&A session, where it was concluded that the whole idea of CDNs is not to compete with IXP customers but to localise traffic and bring data closer to the user.

by Foncham Denis Doh, Internet Society Cameroon