Is LINX getting too big?

An interesting question posed during the Board Election Hustings at LINX69 today was “is LINX getting too big?”

For the uninitiated the London Internet Exchange is a membership owned Internet Exchange where network operators peer with other network operators. This means that they pass traffic between each other free of charge. There is a cost for this – running the “exchange” involves buying and maintaining expensive bits of kit that all members connect to.

This cost however is far lower than the alternative of buying access to internet sites around the world from a commercial supplier – something known as internet transit. LINX membership in theory gives you access to around 70% of all internet routes.

LINX is growing rapidly. The organisation has 357 members with 22 new applications in 2010 to date. Network operators want to join because as LINX grows the benefits also grow.

The question at the hustings is valid though. The problem is that the internet was designed as a robust network able to withstand problems at any given single point. If those networks comprising the internet increasingly connect at a single place then this obviously counter intuitive to the way the internet is meant to work.

Now LINX does operate a very robust network – effectively two networks based on two different vendor equipments. It is becoming an increasingly attractive place to peer.

I can’t tell you what the right answer is. ISPs just need to make sure they have alternatives.

Published by Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of trefor.net, writer, poet, philosopherontap.com

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  1. Trefor Davies

4 Comments

  1. I assume that LINX has more that one operations node. Is there any chance that some of the members would agree to [A] connect to more than one LINX facility and [B] provide space for some fallback switching gear ?

    The point of my question is whether or not it could be made economical for a larger member to multi-connect to LINX and serve as a relay node for traffic surges and backhoe attacks / exchange flooding. Just wondering.

    P.S. I’m well aware that high capacity data links have a price tag comparable to twin, teenage, blond girls in a high-class slave market.

  2. Ted
    LINX does indeed have more than one node and has two separate LANs using Broacade and Extreme gear.

    We connect to them at two different POPs in Docklands – one via Brocade and the other via Exteme. I imagine that most ISPs of any size would do the same.

    Tref

  3. Tref – Thanks for the response.

    Mixed vendor shops (e.g. IBM + STC or IBM + CDC) are a familiar pattern to me. I found the link below which answered most of my questions.

    https://www.linx.net/pubtools/duallan.html

    NB – My interest comes from having supported 3270-type networks (bi-synch hierarchical multi-drop) in the 1980’s. I’m in the San Francisco Bay area and keep bumping into various fiber optic projects (Internet 2, CENIC / CalREN [ http://www.cenic.org/ ], Lucas Film, etc.). Also, I’m a hair-splitter that distinguishes between split paths to two different POP’s (very robust + uncheap) and a single path with two channels to a POP with dual LAN’s (robust + cost effective).

  4. The idea that a single point for an exchange could present future problems has already been addressed by EDGE-IX which is a distributed internet exchange having 22 physically separate locations from Manchester to London. The exchange has 70 clients and is growing (10 new in 2009). Built using Brocade.

    Hope that help

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