Ana
Written by

Ana Zapién

12 Aug, 2020 5 minutes

The peering world can be very exciting and if you’re just getting started we would like to review some of the basics. So let’s begin by defining what peering is: 

Peering is when two or more networks agree to exchange traffic for mutual benefit. This can happen privately, from one network to another, or publicly through Internet Exchange Points (IXP) where multiple networks can converge at a single point for a more efficient exchange of traffic.

In the telco industry it’s common to associate the term peering to the  exchange of traffic at an IXP, however, the relationship between two networks privately through a cross connect – or Private Networks Interconnection (PNI) – is also known as “peering”. So how do we differentiate between the two?

Private Peering is a  dedicated connection between two networks to share traffic, commonly known as a cross-connection. Now Public peering is what we all normally refer to as peering. They are bilateral connections (established between two parties) or multilateral (between multiple parties) to share traffic at an Internet Exchange Point (IXP).

Why peer at the MEX-IX?

The MEX-IX, the only IXP in the U.S. focused on establishing relationships between Mexican networks and international carriers and content providers. It is strategically located on the border to enable international carriers to better service the Mexican markets. 

The network infrastructure in Mexico splits traffic in two segments, routing the North through the U.S. and servicing the South from within the country. Mexico City is the main option to cover the central and southern part of Mexico, but for the northern states much of the traffic is routed across the border.It is estimated that 40% of traffic in Mexico is routed through the U.S.  That is why the infrastructure of Mexican networks to the U.S. is more robust and with greater capacities.

For content providers and CDNs, the density of Mexican networks and the presence of an IXP in McAllen is an extremely viable option to reach the majority of internet users in Mexico without the regulatory hassle and costly implementation of building your own infrastructure inside the country. Connecting at the border is the smartest way to get to Mexico for ISPs, content and cloud providers, and CDNs. 

How does peering work?

Once established, an IXP creates a local environment with dynamic copies of a wide variety of services, such as domain name servers, root servers, time servers, and web and content caches. These localized services reduce bandwidth requirements, decrease latency, and increase the reliability of Internet access for the end users.

Already have a caching solution?

You may not see the value in peering now, but we highly recommend the following article to help you clear up some false assumptions: Five advantages of a peering solution over a Caching solution

Peering reduces the cost of traffic exchange by establishing connections locally, which is cheaper than interconnecting outside the country or in another city. Local services perform better at shorter distances. Another benefit is that carriers have visibility into how much traffic is flowing over their port and where it is going, which avoids the frustration of oversold IP transit routes.

A public peering solution is the perfect supplement for a cross connection. Having both options can further improve network performance.  Should a cross-connection fail, peer-to-peer networks can provide backup connectivity and vice versa. Having both connections means better performance and greater redundancy.

What do I need to know to establish my first peering session?

The first step is to know the peering policies of the content providers or CDNs you’re interested in connecting with.

Open: Carriers with an open policy will exchange traffic with any network without requirements. Some examples of open policy operators are content providers like Google, Netflix and CDN Akamai and Cloudflare.

Selective: A selective peering policy is when a carrier sets specific criteria and conditions to be met in or to exchange traffic.Examples include Microsoft, Facebook, Limelight, Amazon, and Salesforce.

Restrictive: Carriers with restrictive policies also contain requirements to sustain peering relationships but are not open to new peering and are mostly utilized by Tier-1s because they can reach all routes within their Internet Region solely through their existing peering relationships.

What requirements must I meet to start peering sessions?

We strongly recommend beginning by creating a profile on PeeringDB, the largest online repository of operators, data centers and IXPs. Having an out-of-date profile, or not having one at all, causes serious complications for content providers and can affect the possibility of peering.

This is important since many CDNs are automated using Peering DB data and if a network does not have their information available they will not be able to establish a session.

Now that I started peering at the MEX-IX, what’s next?

After setting up your data on PeeringDB, the first thing is to establish a BGP session with the Route Collector of the MEX-IX, a mandatory requirement to obtain connectivity.

You may be interested in: What is the difference between a route server and route collector?

Then we recommend that you connect to the MEX-IX Route Server, also utilizing a BGP session. You will then receive the available routes from the other participants who are connected and, as the peering policies allow,  carry out bilateral sessions. It is absolutely necessary to communicate with the other participant(s) with whom you want to peer with. 

At MDC we will accompany you throughout the peering configuration process. We are available at any time to make traffic communication and exchange easier on MEX-IX.

Want to talk more about peering?

Schedule a call with Alejandra Moreno, Peering Coordinator at MDC, to learn more about peering at the MEX-IX and its benefits or even assess its profitability for you.