Twenty years ago, the first Internet Exchange (IX) was set up in Canada (in Toronto). It was soon followed by a second, in Ottawa. Today, Canada has eight IX’s, including two here in Alberta – the YEGIX in Edmonton, and the YYCIX in Calgary.
Why this explosion of exchange points? Because Canadians are tired of seeing all our network traffic go south of the border, and are demanding faster (and more private) connections to each other.
Internet Exchange points are essentially network switches that multiple members can connect into. This means they can directly communicate with each other, allowing local traffic to stay local (instead of travelling to the USA, for example, to be re-routed back to Canada).
Two years ago, Cybera was thrilled to report that Akamai Technologies (a content delivery network that delivers between 15-30% of all web traffic) had opened a “web cache” at the YYCIX. Now, in a similarly beneficial move, Google has extended its direct network to connect to YYCIX. This will make local Google searches that much faster. It will also lower the costs of networking for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that connect to the YYCIX (which means they will be able to pass those savings onto their customers).
How do these connections work? Think of Google as a physical building. Everyday, millions of people from around the world travel to Google to look up content or YouTube videos. If there was only one road that led to Google, it would be very, very busy. And if people had to travel across different toll highways to get to that road, they would have to pay a lot of money (and waste extra time) to travel to what is effectively a heavily congested road.
Now, imagine that Google decided to set up hundreds of private roads that directly connect its building to cities across the continent. This would ease the congestion for all Google travellers, make their travel much faster (and help them avoid paying tolls on other highways).
The Google direct network at YYCIX operates on the same principle. By creating new direct avenues for its digital audience to reach it, Google is freeing up congestion on its network. The benefit for users is that their requests don’t have to travel across various ISP connections, making Google requests faster. And the benefit for local ISPs is they don’t have to pay as much for transit.
The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) has played an invaluable role in promoting the growth of IXs in Canada through their Internet Exchange Point Initiative. They have found that Canadians sending data-to-data within the country can achieve transfer speeds that are up to 10 times faster using IX points. It’s a game-changing technology.
To find out more about the YYCIX (and getting connected to the Akamai and Google caches), visit: https://yycix.ca/. To find out more about Internet Exchanges, and how to get one set up in your community, visit CIRA’s background page on Internet Exchange points in Canada.