Peering sahou in Japan (sahou: the way to do things)

By on 10 Sep 2014

Category: Tech matters

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Every region seems to have its unique peering environment, and Japan is no different. There are many international companies that extend out into Japan and peer at exchanges there these days, and I thought it may be worthwhile for some to share the culture and environment in Japan.

There are four big exchanges in Japan. All are located in Tokyo and those are JPIX, JPNAP, BBIX, and Equinix (order does not reflect and size or preference). ISPs from all around the country extend out into Tokyo to peer at these exchanges. Of course there are exchanges in other cities. Osaka is growing especially rapidly these days, but I would say Tokyo is still has the big mass by far. If you looked at who owns these exchanges, you may be surprised that all except Equinix, the major share holder is one of the big three telcos. It is also interesting that the exchanges have managed to keep their neutrality and have switches in carrier neutral data centers despite their ownership.

Compared to countries such as Hong Kong or Singapore which are said to be ‘hubs of Asia’ and have only one big exchange, new entrants may have difficulties in picking up traffic due to the disaggregated exchange points. So a new entrant would want to be careful in picking which data center they will build their POP.

Within the past few years, the peering environment has changed tremendously. Until a few years ago, BBIX was not among the big exchanges described above. Their entrance into the market has brought down the port pricing close to what one would expect in other countries. Local operators have become more open and willing to talk about peering issues at NOGs. Peering BoFs are held quite frequently (extremely rare until a few years ago) these days, and operators are starting to learn more about how other countries manage peering.

One thing I notice about peering in Japan is that everybody is polite and is focused towards maintaining a very stable internet. Whenever one has to do maintenance work that takes down a BGP session, e-mails will be send in advance (usually a few days and sometimes even weeks) and when the maintenance is over, there will be a notification again that the maintenance is over. This is not seen often in other regions of the world.

Another difference is that people send prefix updates and as-path updates over e-mail. This has been the culture for a long time, but it has been pointed out by some that e-mailing such matter is irrelevant to those who have automated systems or do not implement as-path filtering. Since these e-mails are sent to a mailing list with all exchange participants(some are wise and only send to their actual peers), there have been arguments that this is creating too much noise.

All these recent changes are coming from the voice of the community. I’m sure we will be seeing more changes within the next few years. Requirements from content providers have been getting more attention recently. Some of their requirements include, jumbo frames in the exchanges, fast failovers, interconnecting cloud services, and APIs. It will be interesting to see how these requirements will change the peering environment.

Seiichi Kawamura is Senior Network Architect at Biglobe, Inc.  This article is based on a talk at IDNOG1.

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