Virtual Peering Speeds Connectivity

Posted: 3/2004

Virtual Peering Speeds Connectivity

By Khali Henderson

A new service is emerging to allow
carriers to peer even when they arent in the same physical location. First
advanced last fall by Switch and Data, the so-called virtual peering concept
speeds carrier-to-carrier connectivity within a given metro by allowing them to
connect at one location and access carriers located at other participating
carrier hotels and colocation facilities in the area.

Presently, the service, called the MetroPAIX Layer 2 public
peering fabric, is available from Switch and Data and its partners in the San
Francisco Bay area. Facilities included in the program are Switch and Datas own
San Jose and Palo Alto locations plus eXchange@200 Paul in San Francisco, CRG
West at Market Post Tower in San Jose and two AboveNet locations as well as the
NASA/Ames research facility in Mountain View, Calif. Switch and Data has put a
switch in each of these locations to facilitate connectivity.

If a carrier purchases a port in our San Jose facility, it has
immediate access to 150 networks, says Mario Galvez, vice president of marketing for Switch and
Data, adding the carrier would still have to sign peering agreements with its
chosen partners.

The automatic benefit is they dont have to extend their
network and capital to other sites, says Galvez. Avoided capex, he says, could run into the hundreds
of thousands of dollars for equipment and leased or built network
facilities. In addition to that, the traditional solution requires a minimum
of 90 days to implement; sometimes its longer depending on the availability of fiber and
the pace in which a city processes building and rights-of-way permits. You can
do it within hours with our solution, he claims.

Switch and Data is looking at other markets for the model, with
New York being a potential first target. Galvez says the company is determining
the right addresses and gauging customer requirements. It absolutely comes down
to market interest, he says.

This sentiment was echoed by another entity, whose execs planned
a similar offer for a long-haul solution last fall and have since pulled back
because of tepid response and declined to go on record about their plans or lack

For now, Switch and Datas virtual peering solution is confined
to the metro area, but the colo company also is evaluating market reception to
broadened coverage for virtual peering points. That could mean extending the Bay area virtual peering fabric to
Los Angeles, for example. The company also is considering integrating a few
cities into a regional peering fabric, but Galvez says that most ISPs already
have at least one metro presence, so the challenge lies in connectivity within
the metros more so than between them. However, he says, there could be a market for a metro-to-metro
solution for smaller ISPs that want to expand quickly into other

He also sees potential benefit to large enterprise users,
including content companies that have begun to engage in peering arrangements
but may not have many points of presence established yet.

The same could be said for more traditional enterprise customers
that want to move away from private networks to the Internet for applications
such as their dealer/distributor communications networks. They are paying
several ISPs to transport that traffic, says Galvez, proposing instead they
could bypass the middleman and peer directly for fee or free, depending on their
leverage (i.e. volume) to negotiate such an arrangement.

AboveNet Inc.
CRG West
Xchange@200 Paul
Switch and Data

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