Engineer peering

INEX’s IXP Manager – tools to help manage an Internet Exchange & invitation to Dublin #peeringweek

IXP Manager has grown organically within INEX over the last decade from a CRUD interface on database tables to a fully fledged management system with an ever increasing toolkit of provisioning, configuration and management scripts built around it. If you’re an IXP starting up (or an IXP looking to grow and offer more value to your members), the question isn’t why should you use IXP Manager but rather why the hell aren’t you?

Every individual and business battles the philosophy of not invented here on a regular basis. And with good reason – it’s often more rewarding and interesting to build stuff yourself, just the way you want it. Building a management system for your IXP seems like a lot of fun. And it is – we did it after all! But, after six years of building, tweaking and improving IXP Manager, it can become a bit of a chore to crank out new features every couple of months.

Now, I want you to think about this – as a two man technical team running a medium sized IXP with 70Gbps of traffic and over 70 members – we’ve taken six years to get IXP Manager where it is today. Do you have six years to do the same? While another IXP down the road can set up shop with IXP Manager next month? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.

In case you haven’t come across IXP Manager before, it’s an IXP administrative system with a fully featured web portal for both IXP staff and members. It allows an IXP to manage switches and assign resources such as ports and IP addresses; it builds secure route server and collector configurations; it has a peering manager for your members as well as a peering matrix; it configures services such as port and peer to peer statistics, Nagios, Smokeping, mailing lists; and it automates a lot of day to day tasks.  It’s built by and in use at INEX in Ireland. Here in the UK, LONAP switched to it last summer and LeedsIX are considering it. Further afield, IXP Manager is getting a lot of traction for IXPs starting up from a greenfield site – and in Africa and Asia it has become the de facto system (where we are also working with ISOC).

We took the decision at INEX to release IXP Manager under an open source license for two primary reasons. The first is that INEX has benefited greatly from free software and a community that openly exchanges ideas and software – and so it was only right and proper that we took the opportunity to give something back. Secondly, and more selfishly, the more we put into IXP Manager, the more we realised how useful it was becoming and started a long list of features we’d like to add. We hoped that if we could build a community around IXP Manager then others may take up the mantle and develop some of these with us. That way, we’d directly benefit from open sourcing this product.

The latter has worked in practice – LONAP came to the table with a list of must haves in order for them to deploy IXP Manager. But they didn’t come empty handed – they ponied up the development costs and, thanks to them, IXP Manager now sports private VLAN support, reseller functionality and a number of other improvements.

We want to grow on this and try and rally a larger community around IXP Manager. And don’t worry, if you can’t develop in PHP, there’s a long list of other stuff you can do including: supporting new IXPs, translation and localisation, documentation and promotion.

Imagine the benefits if we can grow IXP Manager as the de facto choice for new and smaller IXPs – besides a professional and fully featured customer portal for new members, they will also have a user interface that they are not only comfortable with but trust and enjoy. Over time, we can pull these IXPs together to create a shared OAuth backend with in portal navigation to other IXPs. By creating the right APIs, we can also create a unified member dashboard highlighting issues or significant information from different IXPs all in the one spot.

INEX and the Irish Peering Scene

INEX is Ireland’s all-island IP peering hub with over 70 members and 70Gbps of traffic. If you have content you need to dump into Ireland, we can offer direct access to about 97% of all Irish eyeballs. Conversely, if you’re an ISP, we have some of the biggest content providers on the Internet today. Talk to Eileen Gallagher or tweet us @ComePeerWithMe.

We have also just launched a reseller program to try and entice new members from the UK and further afield. Please get in touch if you’re a prospective reseller or want to talk about connecting via a reseller.

Lastly, we have a quarterly members’ meeting this very Thursday. If you want to pop over to us in Dublin, we’d be happy to have you attend and meet our lovely members, nice team and shiny network! I’m sure we’ll also provide a couple pints of Guinness in celebration of our national holiday, St Patrick’s Day (sometime Paddy’s Day but never Patty’s Day!).

Relevant posts:

Regional Peering in the UK by James Blessing

Barry O’Donovan is an all round good guy and with one of his hats works at INEX, the Irish Internet Exchange in Dublin.

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