- The Internet,
as it evolved, has become a structure with modular architecture in which
different Internet Service Providers (ISP) operate offering commercial
services or services to the scientific and research communities in every
region of the world.
- The network
of an ISP is also a modular system, consisting of points of presence (POP)
in various parts of the territory; the POP of an ISP and the circuits connecting
them together constitute the backbone of the ISP network.
- The ISP
connects its clients to a POP, whether end-user clients or another ISP.
In order to ensure that its clients can contact clients of other providers
(for example, to send or receive mail to a user of another ISP), an ISP
must connect its backbone to the backbone of another ISP and this can be
achieved in different ways: through dedicated point-to-point circuits or
through generic multiple interconnection points.
- In the
first case, an ISP would use a separate circuit for each ISP it connects
with, in the second, the ISP uses a single dataflow at a point from which
local connections can be made with all the other ISPs present at that point.
the two methods are not mutually exclusive and in general, for various
reasons, both solutions are used, normally depending on the level of traffic
between the two backbones and on economic factors.
- An Internet
Exchange (sometimes also called NAP - Neutral Access Point) is therefore
a point of multiple interconnections between different ISPs who access
it through a dataflow and which, locally, exchange their clients' data
through a local area network (LAN) and not through a point-to-point connection.
- When we
speak of exchange of data among ISPs we mean exchange of IP traffic and
introduce the concept of "peering": an ISP announces its IP networks
to another ISP (a "peer") and receives from the peer its IP networks,
so that the flow of IP traffic is directed on the basis of this informatio.
- In Italy,
the first IX was set up by a consortium of universities in Lombardy in
1994 and was soon followed by a second, again a consortium of universities,
- It is
no accident that both these NAPs came from the academic world: the need
for neutral ground in which there is competition among the individual users
is a characteristic of all exchange points worldwide (many still hosted
by public structures, typically by research centres and universities).
- At the
time the campus in Via Caldera in the north west of Milan began to attract
more and more ISPs, and is now the largest single pool of Internet operators
- The concentration
of ISPs at the campus created conditions favourable to establishing an
IX within the campus and in 1996, in a voluntary and not-for-profit initiative,
an ISP present in Via Caldera (Inet) made available part of its technical
structure for construction of a second NAP in Milan, the first "mix"
(at the time "mix" meant mixture, an exchange service, the company
MIX did not yet exist).
the importance of NAPs in Internet structure, the presence in the same
town of two different points of exchange, catering to the same ISPs, could
not be without significance; over the years, the ease of connection at
the campus led to its "mix" being richer than the first NAP in
Milan which, while continuing to exist, could not evolve further.
- On the
other hand, there still remained the problem that the "mix",
which had expanded greatly, was hosted by an ISP, i.e. non-neutral ground:
this was a source of embarrassment for the other ISPs, many of whom were
direct competitors of the ISP hosting the mix.
- In January
2000, a total of 28 partners created MIX S.r.L., with the object of creating
and managing within its own infrastructure a set of services to facilitate
exchanges among the ISPs operating in Italy. This service was known as
Milan Internet Exchange, or the acronym MIX.
- MIX is
without doubt now the most important such structure in Italy and is one
of the principal exchange points for Internet traffic in Southern Europe.
- Over the
years other IX were created in Italy, meeting the need for exchange points
in specific geographic areas. In addition to the NAP in Rome (Namex), set
up on a very similar basis to the one in Milan, more and more regional
NAPs are being created, typically promoted by public initiatives.
- The main
ones include TIX (Tuscany IX) in Florence promoted by the Tuscany Regional
Authority and Top-IX (Torino-Piemonte IX) promoted by the Piedmont Region,
but there are also similar initiatives in Veneto, Friuli and other regions.
everyone knows that the Internet is a net of networks, the sum total of
interconnections among networks of many different ISPs, probably few know
the extent of co-ordination and harmonization is involved, including at
interconnections among networks of thousands of ISPs with different sizes,
geographical coverage and services offered, forming a single large Network
where, no matter who the ISP, each user can send an email to the other
side of the world, without regard to the route the message takes over the
network or how many parts of the network is transited before reaching the
destination, this is an activity of primary importance for optimum functioning
of the Internet.
- Just over
a decade ago Internet Exchanges began to be set up in almost all European
countries, interconnecting networks of ISPs operating within a country.
- What happened
in Italy with MIX (Milan Internet Exchange) in 2000 was preceded a few
years previously in London with LINX (London Internet Exchange), the first
structured IX. Later IXs included AMS-IX in Amsterdam, DE-CIX in Frankfurt,
Netnod in Stockholm, to name a few, and gradually extended to all other
European countries, which now have at least one principal IX and one or
more secondary IXs.
- The reason
for this proliferation has always been the same: to improve Internet infrastructures
within a country in order to facilitate exchange of IP data among ISPs
with infrastructure in that country. To sum up: a single aim pursued by
structures which are typically not for profit, connecting Internet operators
with the same requirements, or even in some cases the same operators (for
example, for operators operating in several countries).
in 2000, led a small group of 7 IXs to create a European co-ordination
structure for IXs: just as the Internet has become over the years a global
network thanks to co-ordination by work groups all over the world, so too
in the world of Internet Exchanges there was a need to create forms of
co-operation and comparison, so that the Internet could also benefit from
the experience of all at infrastructural level.
- So on
7 May 2001, Ams-IX (Amsterdam), BNIX (Brussels), De-CIX (Frankfurt), LINX
(London), MIX (Milan), Netnod (Stockholm) and VIX (Vienna) founded the
European association of Internet Exchanges, known as Euro-IX.
- The aim
of the association was and still is to co-ordinate and harmonize the IX
activities, development of common activities and procedures, and sharing
of experience and information, the basic principles of the whole Internet.
activities have over the years proved their worth and as word spread this
led to the birth of new IX, not only in Europe but all over the world.
Euro-IX has more than 40 affiliates from over 26 European countries, with
an exchange of traffic of about 5 Terabit per second, providing ISPs from
all over the world with the data essential for correct planning of interconnections
among their networks.
Euro-IX was originally designed as a Forum of European IXs, after some
years it seemed a natural development to extend beyond the original geographical
boundaries, capturing the interest and harvesting the experience of IXs
in other continents. In 2005 the association decided to open its doors
to non-European IXs, to their mutual advantage.
the community of European IXs profits from the contributions of affiliates
from Brazil, Curacao, Iceland, Egypt, Japan, India, Nepal and the United