Choosing a new home for your servers or network POP….

Well here I go again, no posts for ages then decide I should do something! I always mean to write something but never get around to it…. However recently there have been so many industry experts writing about ‘choosing co-location’ ‘what to look for in a DC provider’ ‘where to colocate’ and they all appear to miss the point….

All these people (most of whom no longer work in the industry as they can’t hold down a job) talk about the same points at high level but never drill down and see how important those points really are. They all talk about ‘ecosystem’ ‘uptime’ and being ‘green’ – all are valid but you need to look into them to really get to the thing that makes people decide.

Ecosystem
This is becoming more and more a buzzword and is a valid point but getting less and less so – the world is changing with the actual number of required players in a valid ecosystem becoming smaller, the days of needing quantity of parts of the ecosystem are gone and it is now quality. As long as the location has a reasonably density of carriers (including a good IX or access to one), access to cloud providers (either on site or remote) and some local eyeball networks you are generally good to go.

Uptime
The ability to keep the DC standing up in times of trouble and faults has always been key and will remain so however it’s not a differentiator anymore. Even the lower tier (second division) DC’s have good uptime records.

Location
This point is becoming less important and we head into 2016, it’s always good to have some equipment in the key cities (London – Frankfurt – Amsterdam) but more and more these are becoming connectivity nodes with processing power being put in more economic locations. Larger players in the market are now choosing to locate smaller amounts of equipment in the connectivity hubs and more in the so-called ‘B’ markets.

DataSoverinty
The only non technical point on the list that could, in the coming months, become key to selection, time will tell how important but already many customers are choosing to locate in Germany for example (at large cost) due to it.

All in all the marketplace and selection criteria is changing at a fairly quick pace with the word ‘Cloud’ turning into multiple words (that are generally AWS, Azure and Softlayer).

So what is the answer (in my opinion)….
Its simple (literally) It’s the expertise shown by the person you deal with, the trust that is built up and the easy of doing business!! This is something that all the experts miss! Keep it simple is key, too much to write here so a dedicated post to come on that in the near future.

Might be I have too basic view on things but the worst thing you can do is complicate any transaction, why create confusion when not needed?

Well that all from me, until next time!

Choosing a new home for your servers or network POP….

The changing IP interconnection scene, observations.

What I am hoping to address in this post is the changing interconnection market, I live and work on the middle of this market in what is arguably one of the main IP interconnection markets in the world – Amsterdam.

First of all I am by no means a technical expert on interconnection, more of an interested observer. My views have been built up over the past 5 years watching the market and being involved from a commercial point of view. I am sure some of the technicians reading this will shoot it down in flames but that’s more than welcome.

Over the past years I was involved in the peering market as I was working at AMS-IX, had daily conversations about the benefits of peering on a public exchange (as opposed to private peering off an IX) but that was almost 3 years ago now, I was wondering if the picture has changed. The market is very dynamic and 3 years ago it was more of a simply discussion around peering v transit but times have changed and the market is unrecognizable! So here are my (non technical) thoughts on what is going on. I still have a lot of exposure to peering as the company I work for has 3 AMS-IX POPS (accounting for close to 50% of the traffic) as well as POP of NL-IX, ECIX and a couple of others, I actively promote peering to my customers.

There are a number of factors that I have noticed that are having an effect on the interconnection market and all these together add up to a change in direction ( the work game changer is being knocked around by some people) each element is small but together then all add up……..

First factor is the role of the IX and the way they work. First of all we are seeing IX’s become distributed (some more than others) and in a couple of cases they are connecting their nodes cross border – this allows people to peer cross border with no additional transit costs. This product could have a negative effect on a) carriers who have their revenue eroded and b) other IX’s who could become uncompetitive. None of the so-called ‘big 3’ offer distributed exchanges (either Europe of US) but it could be this will change before long.

The second factor is the continuing drop of the IP transit price (how low can it go), although on a pure cost per MB level the IX’s are still much cheaper (at 10GE levels) but you also need to factor in the additional ‘hidden’ costs such as local coloction, transport to reach the IX’s as well as the human cost of expertise to manage the peering connections and keep them going. I am seeing a move to fire and forget transit from multiple vendors. The transit market is evolving too with lots of consolidation (Level3 / Global Crossing – Hibernia / Atrato – GTT / TINET) meaning people have real global networks with capacity to shift. In some regions an ‘airline’ model is evolving where people will shift local capacity at low-cost in order to get people to commit to the more profitable ‘intercontinental routes’.

Thirdly we are seeing the good old buzz word of moving into the cloud! What blog would be complete without this topic. However joking aside this is one of the first real game changers that are emerging, this is a risk to many parts of the ecosystem with the benefits falling on a) the cloud providers and b) the end-user is they use the offering correctly. The shift to systems like AWS and Azure means that there are is less diverse requirements on the market (transit, IX ports, co-location etc) but the requirement to get to the cloud providers get bigger. It’s a case of you are in the club and benefiting (Cloud Partners like carriers and co-location) or you are on the outside looking in (not a great place to be).

It might appear until now that I think its only the IX’s who need to adapt but they are not alone and are in good company, this shift could affect the traditional carriers and co-location providers.

A major shift when using the cloud services of the monsters such as AWS and Azure is the rise of bandwidth on demand offerings, the ability to connect to the platforms for a short time (sometimes measured in minutes) without the requirement to sign long-term contracts with bandwidth providers (typically 12 – 36 months). This is great for the end-user but how can the carrier operate a long-term strategy without secured revenue? Will this led to lower service levels, old networks and general over booking? For the carriers who own lots of assets and have for many years this isn’t so much of a problem (the lack of long-term commits) as this probably makes up a smaller percentage of their revenue. I am however interested to see how some of the new players fair as they must need to have the access to high levels of bandwidth (not to mention co-location costs) but their customers have no commitment to them*.
*This is an assumption as I have not seen end-user contracts.

One of the consequences of the shifting market (or is it a driving force behind it) is that in some cities (Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London) some of the DC;s are turning into Megahubs where most of the key players are – there is simply little need to be elsewhere. This shift is generally limited to 4 provider in Europe, this is good for the vendors and good for the end users in terms of a) market share and revenue and b) ease of connecting to the major players but it might have an adverse effect on the local players. The opinion in the market is very split about how things will pan out, will the smaller vendors slowly fade away or will they take the opportunity to be creative and provide a real alternative to the Mega hubs. The large traditional vendors are starting already offer additional services (IAAS, Firewalls, IP etc) and are beginning to expand their service with connectivity into the cloud providers.

Some of the ‘upcoming’ DC providers are even offering co-location ‘by the hour’ with people only paying what you use, again that’s what they say and I have not seen the T’s & C’s. This business model is something I am trying to get my head around, yes it is not so common to have people leave once they are in but with no commitment from them how do the co-location providers plan their business and structure the ongoing investments.

In summary as ever it is an exciting market it is clear that ‘traditional’ companies like Carriers, IX’s and co-location vendors are in a changing market and more changes appear to be coming. If you look into the history or the IT industry (or any industry come to that) the biggest companies have to evolve or become extinct. All parties need to evolve and if they don’t then it might be a rough ride.

In a couple of weeks I am off to the European Peering Forum and it will be interesting to get people’s views there.

Till the next time!

The changing IP interconnection scene, observations.

My coffee machine makes coffee, give me a medal!!

Preface.

I actually wrote this entry about 3 weeks ago but decided not to publish it as I felt I was too late (should have been the next day). However all that was changed last week w/e (24th April) when I attended an event where one of the major providers (US in origin) were still banging on about it….

A few weeks ago(w/c 23rd March 2015) there was an issue with the power grid in the Amsterdam – this caused some outages to houses and business in the area, business whose supply was effected included Datacenters.

Over the last 10 years or Amsterdam has become an internet hotspot (arguably the most important point in Europe) with a huge number of Internet focused companies to be found in Amsterdam’s numerous Datacenters. These companies have chosen Amsterdam for a number of reasons, some of those being the availability of high quality connectivity (driven by the Amsterdam Internet Exchange), the openness for the Dutch legal system to privacy and freedom of expression, the availability of high quality Datacenter space and the stability of the National power supply.

The Grid issues lasted most of the morning and saw the Datacenters infrastructure having to take the multiple MegaWatt load of the servers off of the Grid and in house. Overall all did well with rumors of only one location (not one of the big names but a domestic provider) failing to take up the slack.

After reading these stories of self-congratulation I ended up asking myself why? I mean isn’t keeping the severs powered and cooled one of the key promises that your datacentre provider makes to you? Given some of the stories being generated by locations (some not even in Amsterdam) you would have thought it was a huge achievement for the locations to continue running

Some of the quotes from the providers included “we are proud to have come through the blackout” (does this mean the doubted they would)  and “diesel trucks were immediately dispatched and parked in our car park” (does this mean they have minimal fuel on site)….

Shouting about your datacenter working when there is a national grid outage? Isn’t that what it is supposed to do? It is one of your key promises to your customers!

It’s like saying “well done expensive coffee machine, you managed to make me coffee again”!

My coffee machine makes coffee, give me a medal!!

Well its been a long time, reflection on a year away is in progress…

Blogging…. Well there was me thinking it would be easy but it didn’t last long.. I started well but it soon fell away, hopefully all that will change now.

Since I last posted its been well over 12 months and a lot has changed both at work and at home, most of it isn’t of interest but some is and I plan to go over some of it in a soon to be released post, watch this space.

I now work at TelecityGroup (www.telecity.com) and its seen a big step up in both my effort (the devil is in the detail is something I have learned) and also a big change in my thoughts on how the internet (and connectivity) functions to give us all the speed we take for granted while online.

Hopefully I will be able to make this site light hearted and informative. For sure I will upset a few people along the way but thems the breaks! 🙂

Until soon……

Well its been a long time, reflection on a year away is in progress…

So time to move onto a new challenge!

Well as hinted in the last post I have decided to resign my position at AMS-IX and take on a new role at Telecitygroup here in Amsterdam, a big change indeed.

I have spent 3.5 years at AMS-IX and considering the day before the interview I had no idea what an Internet Exchange was (some say I still dont) things went well. During that time we (and I mean we) managed to launch the most successful partner / reseller program that the IX world has seen, it enabled AMS-IX to add over 100 new ASN’s each year for the last 2 years and more during 2013. The program has literally been copied (in some cases word for word) by many other IX’s around the world. As well as growing AMS-IX home IX in Amsterdam we also launched AMS-IX HK (which is now attracting connections) and are in the process of launching AMS-IX EA (East Africa).

When I joined AMS-IX I was given 2 goals a) establish a sales operation and b) get known in ‘different’ communities (as opposed to the RIPE and Peering crowd). I think both targets were achieved, the sales department is now 4 people (well once they hire my replacement it will be 4) and AMS-IX is well know on the carrier conference (especially Capacity) circuit. When I started i was the first dedicated sales professional (?) that AMS-IX ever had and at carrier conferences nobody would recognize anyone from AMS-IX (or any other IX for that matter). Now I am pretty well known on the circuit and managed to generate a good amount of business for AMS-IX via my network and it is that network which has helped me get the new job. A far cry from the first time at a capacity conference (I think in Malaysia) when someone said to me ‘who are you and what the f**k is an IX doing here’! 🙂

A thanks must to the AMS-IX team who held a really good farewell drink for me, well by the state of my headache the next day it was good, and gave me a couple of nice going away gifts (you can see a picture below).

photo

My time at AMS-IX was well spent I think I did well for the organization and also it was a great chance for me to move into a growing industry sector that I hope I can stay in for a long time to come.

Since my leaving became public there has been a lot of interest in my old position and the interview process is still going along and I wish my successor all the best with the role. I dont see the numbers for 2013 as a challenge as the ground work ha already been done a very good inroads made into the targets, I think the coming years will be more of a challenge due to competition from other IX’s (and regional peering) and the transit price continuing to drop could be a big problem. There is no doubt that technically peering is the best for the network (user and operators) but increasingly the decisions will be made on a financial basis with solely the bottom line in mind. I think many people are attracted to the role at AMS-IX as they feel it is an ‘easy number’ but it looks easy from the outside but the amount of work put in behind the scenes (preparing for conferences and keeping on top of leads) is immense and maybe under estimated by some people.

So in two days I begin my new role and what do I expect? Well I am looking forward to a more corporate environment with much to learn, I also expect the completion to be a lot harder than i have had for the last few years (and am looking forward to that). I hope I do well in the new role, I will need luck but ‘the harder you work the luckier you get’ and I am prepared to work hard!

Not sure if I will write too much about my new role here but I will keep active and am going to try to move towards more informative posts with my opinion and observations on what I see in the industry!

So time to move onto a new challenge!

Reflection on Capacity Middle East and MENOG Peering forum (March 2013).

Well I have been back from Dubai for a couple of weeks and alot has happened, will add another post on that subject in the coming days (probably weeks).

In what will be my last trip for AMS-IX to Dubai (a clue as to the next posts content) I attended Capacity Middle East (www.capacitymedia.com) as well as the MENOG peering forum which is run by RIPE.

Capacity Middle East was as good as ever (with a record 950 or so attendees), as with all conferences I work hard before to make a good number of targetted appointments made in advance. I managed to meet all the people I needed to and again managed to get some verbal orders (now the hard work) during the event.

After the Capacity event it was onto MENOG and the peering day which apart from meet a couple of guys I needed to catch up with was a fairly big dissapointment. The event was basically hijacked by Equinix and DE-CIX for the launch of their joint venture known as UA-IX, a supposedly neutral IX which only has one way to get to it. I do not blame Equinx and DE-CIX in anyway for the way the event went, they are both commercial companies and took an opportunity that was presented to them and did a good job – I would have done the same! I wish DE-CIX all the best with the venture but not being with the incumbant (normally this is a no no for IX’s but MENA is different) they have a mountain to climb.

Other low lights of the peering day included a presentation by a guy talking about new methods in IX’s,only problem was the guy does not run an IX and has no experience of running them (neither did his advisors). The fact that most of the ‘peering personals’ were done by EU or US companies sort of summed up the issues facing the region in terms of infrastructure, maybe people should just let it be.

The two highlights of the peering event was hearing about the sterling efforts of the Palastinian IX and the complete over reaction of some people to the new release I did the day before at the capacity event, you can read more here:- https://www.ams-ix.net/newsitems/78 and see my picture below.

photo-4

As for peering in MENA, well thats going to be a challenge as all countires have ambitions to be ‘the hub’ and all parts of the region have a dominate incumbent who wont give over control in the near future (ever?). I cannot disclose the amount of ‘secret’ IX inititaives people have spoke to me about in the the region but lets just say it’s alot. I do think a couple of them have legs but they will take time.

Generally speaking it’s nice to visit Dubai and hopefully I will be back before too long but that depends on the next challenge.

Reflection on Capacity Middle East and MENOG Peering forum (March 2013).

PTC 2013 has been and gone….

Well the first conference of 2013 has been completed and it went very very well, lots of meetings with both new and existing customers – hopefully some business to follow too.

As with previous years I worked hard to set up meetings in advance, in total I have +/- 27 set meetings and an endless list of people I needed to see. All in all the meetings were good and only a couple didnt manage to happen also I saw the people I needed too. As well as the upkeep of the relationships I have built over the years I think some firm orders will come out of the show. It is also good to chat to people and see where the industry is going. Unlike previous years I pretty much refused any formal meetings with Europeans as I can see them anytime without the horrendous travel.

Most of the meetings were good but special mentions should go to Angola Cables and their ambitious project to build a cable between Africa and South America (could this lead to a further shift away from Europe) and also the guy who was constantly typing on his blackberry during the meeting!!! You know who you are! Finally thanks to Perry from Evoswitch for the beer!

The venue for the event is good (although the hotel is stuck in the 70’s) but the travel is deadly! All in all it takes about 24 hours to get there, could do it in about 20 hours but that gives some tight connections and a higher ticket price.

I managed to take a day off while I was there and went to see the museum at Pearl Harbour, was very interesting and somewhat moving.

USS Arizona memorial
USS Arizona memorial
From the USS Arizina
From the USS Arizona

One way or another I plan to be back next year!

Otherwise it promises to be a big year with lots to report….. Watch this space for updates!

PTC 2013 has been and gone….