Five reasons to peer

By on 6 Sep 2021

Category: Tech matters

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As I’m sure most APNIC Blog readers know, peering is a process in which two or more networks exchange traffic, and it can help you to make the most of your resources and expand your network for the benefit of your business.

Reducing costs and improving user experience, peering has many more benefits for all sorts of organizations, from small hosting providers to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), and enterprises.

This series looks at 10 different reasons why you should give peering a go, in two parts.

1. Peering raises your revenue

If you are an ISP or a carrier, you provide your customers access to other networks. These customers can, and often do, have more than one provider, which puts you in direct competition when delivering customer traffic. If not steered manually by the customer, there is exactly one reason that decides who delivers the most traffic to the customer — the network that can deliver the shortest path wins the largest amount of traffic.

Peering helps you shorten paths to other networks compared to classical IP transit. With transit, it could be that the customer’s target network sits behind multiple transit carriers, and if your competitor can offer a path with fewer hops, the traffic will go through their network. With peering, you can offer direct or shorter routes to the networks your customers are trying to reach.

2. Peering lowers your costs

Companies need ever increasing amounts of bandwidth. Video conferencing, software as a service (SaaS) applications, video streaming, and more, all demand fast and efficient connections. And they come at a cost.

Most often, companies connect to the Internet via IP transit; you pay a network for Internet access. With peering, however, two (or more) networks exchange traffic cost-neutrally with each other. By connecting to an Internet Exchange (IX), networks can peer with hundreds of networks.

In many cases all around the world, the cost of traffic via peering at an IX is also cheaper than using transit. Many organizations, therefore, use peering to reduce costs.

There are exceptions depending on your region and on the volume usage of peering and transit ports but beyond cost, peering is all about performance.

3. Peering lowers latency

The shorter the trip, the better the latency. Latency is the delay between a user’s action and the response to that action from a website or an application. In networking terms, it’s the total time it takes for a data packet to make a round trip. Latency is measured in milliseconds and Internet quality depends on it. For example, a website with a two-second delay in the loading time is sufficient to increase the bounce rate of more than 100%!

Peering paths outperform transit paths for 91% of Autonomous Systems (ASes), meaning that peering offers the shortest path for data to travel, and therefore better latency.

Peering also gives you control over where your network exchanges traffic with other important networks. You control where to handover the traffic (which city/which IX) and you have control over your backhaul and the peering port usage. As the other network also has this control, together with your peering partner, you have a controlled end-to-end handling of your valuable traffic streams.

4. Peering increases throughput to other networks

Peering gives you greater control over routing, resulting in improved network performance and happy end users. When data is transported via public transit carriers, it flows via a private network interconnect (PNI) between the involved carriers. PNIs mean cost, work, maintenance, and organization between those carriers, and upgrades of PNIs between large carriers do not always happen in time.

Read: How do we improve Internet connectivity outside major cities? A Japanese approach

Running your traffic over saturated PNIs can work without a noticeable latency or loss of quality (depending on the case) but using a saturated PNI does influence the end-user experience. If your users are streaming video or online gaming, it can result in many buffering interruptions and unhappy users.

With peering, you are in control of your points of interconnection where both you and the IX you are connected to ensure there’s enough port bandwidth. If you have enough peering bandwidth, your users have almost unlimited possible throughput to the other networks. Using ISPs as an example, the user is limited only by the service bought from you, and not the overcrowded PNI traps of Tier 1 or Tier 2 carriers you are using.

5. Peering improves your connection to major players

Many of the major content players, such as Google, Akamai, Facebook, or Amazon, are typically present at almost all major IXs. And in addition to a route server peering session, you can establish a direct peering session with them. Many of the big players send more prefixes via a direct session, and give your traffic more priority and traffic engineering focus on direct sessions.

It makes sense to establish direct peerings with the route server peers that you exchange the most traffic with and/or those that announce the most prefixes. Your traffic path will remain up and unchanged and it will grow in months or years, even if the route server was reset during this phase.

It is not just the big players who might be the important networks to you. Peering at an IX allows you to secure a traffic path to networks that are important for you with direct sessions.

Read part two now: Another five reasons to peer.

Ivo A. Ivanov is Chief Executive Officer of DE-CIX International. He has more than 15 years experience in the regulatory, legal, and commercial Internet environment.

This post is adapted from a series that originally appeared on DE-CIX Blog.

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The views expressed by the authors of this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of APNIC. Please note a Code of Conduct applies to this blog.

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