Multiple networks need a physical infrastructure, and intersection, where they can connect and exchange information. It's called an Internet exchange point (IXP) and it's a big part of what makes the digital world go around. The IXP all about the free flow of data from network to network, from Internet service providers (ISPs) to content delivery networks (CDNs) to content providers to eye-ball networks or any other networks in the digital neighborhood.
In the United States traffic moving between networks has traditionally passed through IXPs owned and operated by data centre companies or by telecommunications providers such as Verizon -- for-profit companies with a cost model that includes a fees structure for the travelling through their IXPs, and port fees and cross connect fees.
A European Twist
Not so in Europe. A different model developed and grew. Not-for-profit, data centre-agnostic organisations began implementing internet exchanges. These IXPs were spread across multiple data centres in a particular metro region and didn't necessarily have the same fees structure attached to the data travelling across them. The model evolved and migrated from Europe to the U.S. and other parts of the world. Of the not-for-profit IXPs that have become established in this country, the London Exchange (LINX) boasts 740 members connecting from over 71 different countries worldwide and can be found in Ashburn, VA (LINX NoVa).
What are the benefits of having an IXP in a data centre?
The proliferation and expansion of not-for-profit IXPs went hand in hand with the establishment across the US of IXPs in third-party data centres, some of which are owned by wholesale data centre providers like Digital Realty.
There are benefits of having an IXP in your data centre:
Improved network performance
Decreased network latency
Elimination of bringing traffic from outside the data centre to connect to an internet exchange
Data centres without in-house IXPs have to backhaul their network data over dark fibre to an exchange located in a separate facility. That can be time consuming, that can be costly, and that can have a degraded impact on the network performance.