Earlier this month, the Amsterdam Internet Exchange, or AMS-IX, hit a new record: per second, more than 9 Terabits of data passed through the Exchange. To put that into perspective: that’s about 256 movie DVDs, or 469 hours of HD video streaming, or 220 million pages of typed text. In a single second! What is the Amsterdam Internet Exchange, and why are they seeing this much data traffic?
For starters, since the early days of the Internet, traffic volumes have always been growing as new applications were invented and the Internet found an evermore important role to play in our lifes. The current Covid crisis is also definitely having an impact: as more and more people are video conferencing instead of going into the office, or trying to ward of boredom by streaming another Netflix series, data usage continues to grow. So it makes sense for Internet traffic to reach new records. But why exactly is AMS-IX seeing so much of it?
You may have heard the Internet being described as a network of networks. There isn’t a single organisation or company that owns the Internet. Instead, independant companies can each built up their own network infrastructure, connecting their own users with one another. However, the Internet wouldn’t make much sense if I could only send out an e-mail to someone who has a subscription with the same Internet Service Provider as I do. These different networks need to connect to each other, so that I can reach anyone that’s online, wherever in the world! That’s where an Internet Exchange proves its value.
An Internet Exchange is a network platform where different Internet Service Providers, Telecom Operators and large content networks or cloud providers can come together and exchange data between their networks, a process also known as peering. The Amsterdam Internet Exchange is such a platform. Started in the ’90s as a not-for-profit association, it has grown into one of the largest interconnection platforms in the world, currently connecting 876 different networks, including many well known names such as Amazon, Akamai, Alibaba, Booking.com, Blizzard Entertainment, Google and many more. (In fact, I hardly had to scroll past ‘B’ to find some great examples).
So, where is the Amsterdam Internet Exchange? You may imagine a large data centre somewhere in Amsterdam, and you would not be entirely wrong, but in fact there is a number of such locations in different places in (and close to) the city. In fact, AMS-IX has even gone international, opening up a number of different branches around the world. Having been in such an influential position internationally for so many years, AMS-IX is sure to set even higher traffic records soon!