The role of data centers in an interconnected world


From storage evolution to digital revolution

“Internet Exchange Points,” comments  Gabriel Willigens, Head of the Business Unit DataLogistIX at Itenos, “live in data centers.” There’s a good reason for this: that’s where data lives. Today, data centers are the warehouses of the digital economy, providing a home not only for the data itself, but also for the platforms and applications that have become so ubiquitous in the modern world. And central to the seamless functioning of these applications and delivery of content is interconnection – which is why IXs like DE-CIX also make themselves at home in highly interconnected data centers in order to nurture digital ecosystems there.

But clearly, it hasn’t always been like that. Prehistoric data centers (those that existed long before anyone even thought of coining terms like “digital native”) were computer rooms located in company office space, housing – seen in retrospect – massively oversized and underpowered computers, and connected to nobody and nothing outside of the premises. It was a combination of the evolution of computing technology (not only miniaturization and transistor density, but also the capacity for computer resources to be shared amongst multiple users) and the increasing desire to connect networks with each other which together spawned the commercial Internet. With this, a new type of dedicated data center facility developed, along with new business cases for their operators. And so began the business of colocation – without which the Internet as it is could never have developed.

The co-dependent development of the Internet and data centers

To gain access to the Internet – today, as it was back then – connectivity is an essential precondition. In the mid-90s, with the advent of the World Wide Web, networks outside of the USA still needed to connect directly with the American backbone in order to access the new-fangled Internet. “An e-mail from one ISP to the other went to Washington and came back on the same line to be delivered to the provider next door. This was of course very expensive – a 2-Mbit direct route to US was a big thing. It was a privilege to have such a line, but costs were too high,” Harald A. Summa reminisces about the early days.

When DE-CIX first connected networks in Germany back in 1995, the first data center where the networks housed their networking equipment was a computer room in a disused post office in Frankfurt. But while connecting the first three German networks could be handled in such a space, it became necessary for the fledgling Internet Exchange to move to a dedicated colocation facility, as more and more networks wanted to connect their servers locally as well – so in 1999, DE-CIX moved to Interxion’s first Frankfurt data center, FRA 1. This was the beginning of a strong and mutually beneficial friendship, without which the Internet would not be what it is today.

The pioneering spirit of interconnection – no limits

Coming up to the turn of the millennium was a time of enormous growth in the market of data center services – companies that wanted to connect to the Internet but did not want to invest in their own in-house infrastructure began placing their servers in already functioning data centers, where the facilities could be shared between all tenants. The more companies and networks that accumulated within these data centers, the more attractive they became for other companies and networks to interconnect with. Digital ecosystems began to evolve, and the colocation market boomed. As Gerd Simon, at the time the Managing Director of Interxion in Germany, explains, “The mood was very energetic back then, there was a pioneering spirit – everything was possible. There were no limits. Everyone was looking for possibilities to develop their business, and looking for conversation and business partners in order to do that.”

Using DE-CIX as a way of then interconnecting networks not only within a building, but also between data centers, became a success story for the digital hub of Frankfurt – which has developed into one of the areas with the largest data center density anywhere in Europe.

Getting closer to the edge and increasingly interconnected

Certainly, the development of the colocation business model was not without its hiccups. With the bursting of the dotcom bubble in the early 2000s, these once flourishing colocation facilities emptied – the yawning white space in limbo as it waited for the hoped-for recovery. And bounce back it did; slowly at first, but with the emergence of the iPhone in 2007, a new form of Internet access demanded increasing infrastructure to feed a new generation of services to a willing world. Offering services for an increasingly mobile end user meant that networks needed to get closer to the user. This meant that networks needed to be connected with more data centers, and data centers needed to be connected with each other – and this needed to be done on both a global and a local scale.

The Internet was, after all, a global phenomenon. Local connectivity became the enabler for access to the world. Connecting to an Internet Exchange like DE-CIX functioned as a portal to the entire globe – it brought businesses to users, but it also brought users to these businesses.

From a refurbished office space to virtual infrastructure

From a couple of servers in a stand-alone rack, to containers for building modular data centers, through to purpose-built data centers offering managed IT services to SMEs, on to large colocation facilities with around 10,000 square meters of white space (equivalent of nearly 2 football fields filled with racks of servers); and onwards and upwards to major data center campuses and hyperscaler data centers offering upwards of a million square meters of computing space (in which, for example, the major platform providers and cloud service providers run their services). The variety of sizes, designs, and purposes that all fall under the term “data center” almost belies definition.


And going beyond these, data centers are taking on new conceptual forms. On the one hand, there are several initiatives seeking to federate a wide variety of data centers and services to create a virtual, open, neutral, and distributed cross-border infrastructure. In so doing, quality assurance and compliance requirements are being addressed, to enable customers simplified and secure control over their processes and their own data in the cloud, as well as data governance and interoperability, to gain the necessary flexibility for emerging digital services like AI. One example of such an initiative is the European project GAIA-X.

On the other hand, we see the emergence of edge data centers – highly localized, miniaturized processing capabilities to provide almost real-time responses and so enabling scenarios like autonomous transportation. Thus, the concept of the data center has always evolved alongside its potential to be used for the coming generations of digital services and digital business.

In the evolution of the data center as a building – from an office space in the early days, to refurbished commercial space, to purpose-built buildings, to modular containers on the one hand and hyperscalers on the other, and through to the minimalistic concepts now evolving in the edge data center space – land has also played a key role. Property owners and developers even in the late 1990s began to realize that a building with connectivity was more valuable for companies wanting to get online. Connectivity started to become a defining element of commercial property, and with this, digital had begun to have a real and lasting impact on the analog world.

The data center as mission-critical for companies, the cloud, and the Internet

By the second decade of the digital millennium, demand for data center space had developed radically, and data center operators realized that refurbished standard buildings no longer offered them what they needed to provide a modern service. Concepts like security, accessibility, and reliability were becoming business critical for their customers – from startups to global enterprises – and therefore also for the data centers themselves. So a new industry developed in the design and construction of new, purpose-built data centers.

In the early 2010s, the data center industry began a process of professionalization. Designs began to offer fail-safes against potential down-time and single points of failure, and classification systems began to offer potential customers a rating system on which to base their IT outsourcing decisions. Designs ensured redundancy in terms of connectivity and power. Sites were chosen for their proximity to other networks, to fiber, to power stations, and for their distance from geographical, environmental, and structural dangers.

This last point hinges on the fact that the analog world can also have a significant impact on the digital world. Jens Prautzsch, Managing Director of Interxion in Germany, describes it thus: “If you enter a data center, go past the security, into the data rooms, you feel the heat, you feel the noise, and you think, wow, what is in there? And then if you have in mind all the services, the customers that are in there, the systems and platforms that are running there, you feel the responsibility. You understand how important it is that we do a great job.”



Exploring the edges

The more interconnected data centers operating within close proximity to one another, the greater the interconnectivity gravity becomes, attracting more and more data center operators to build nearby, bringing more and more networks that want to access and participate in the increasingly dense ecosystems of digital hubs. The mushrooming interconnectivity in Frankfurt, for example, nicely illustrates the profound effect that digitalization has been having on our world for the last two decades. Without these ecosystems of data centers, the networks connected to them, and Internet Exchanges like those from DE-CIX interconnecting them, the Internet would not, and could not, have developed as it has.

The data center landscape of the future

So, where is the data center heading now? Well, probably in as many different directions as there are data center concepts today. The edge is a whole new territory to be explored, to be populated with sensors and processors and connected to fog and cloud computing solutions for further processing and storage. Looking in another direction, data center designers and hardware manufacturers have been engaged in an ongoing process of increasing energy efficiency – a trend which is set to continue well into the new decade. Here, not only is the infrastructure being designed to consume less power, and the heat generated in the data centers is being redirected into local heating networks, but data centers are being designed to operate in climatically opportune, but thoroughly unexpected places. Take, for example, mines, churches, or even underwater locations.

Whatever the future of data centers and the Internet as a whole may bring, DE-CIX will be there, together with our many data center and connectivity partners all over the world, providing the portal to the next generations of interconnection. Without these valued data center and connectivity partners – providing access to DE-CIX in more than 500 data centers, in over 80 countries, across four continents – without you, DE-CIX would not have a story to tell.


Automotive sector and colossal data: Challenges and way forward – Ivo Ivanov, the CEO of DE-CIX International

What are the challenges the automotive sector may face in dealing with colossal amounts of data? What are the ways the automotive sector can address this challenge?

Industries worldwide are entering a new era of digitalization, everywhere, for everything, making performance, resilience, and security in network connections business-critical. Enterprises from segments like healthcare, finance, retail, logistics, and automotive are discovering the benefits of connecting with their digital value chain via an Internet Exchange (IX).

The digital car is a digital product for which the manufacturers cannot afford to cut corners on the performance, resilience, or security of their networks. The efficacy and the privacy of their connections to other networks are paramount to the provisioning of the many services and features that define the digital car. Any lapses will affect the reputation of the car brand.

Data and software as the key differentiator of the car of the future

The data produced and analyzed by a car is part of a market that will be valued in trillions of dollars. This data will be highly valuable for a variety of industry segments, starting with the marketing industry (to understand trends and customer preferences), down the road to municipalities (wanting to know which street needs repairing and up-to-the-second traffic flows); there’s the insurance industry (wanting a better understanding of driver behaviour); and then the finance industry (to know about consumption behaviour), just for starters.

On the other hand, analysts from Deloitte to McKinsey assure us that the future car customer is likely to place more emphasis on digital performance than engine performance in the purchasing decision – today, the differences when it comes to engine performance are no longer so significant. So, digital will be a key differentiator, and the competition will occur more on the software side.

Data Journey of a Digital Car

From maintenance data to navigation and infotainment: The data journey of the digital car involves many different kinds of data that need to be sent to or received from a range of service providers and suppliers.

We already see car makers transforming into software developers – like Daimler’s ambition to create their own operating system – and software developers, like Apple, building cars. From both sides, the trend is towards greater ownership of the entire ecosystem. We’ll see players that create a dominating position by owning both – as Apple successfully achieved through offering applications through the iTunes store and at the same time selling the devices on which those applications are used. The market leaders in the automotive sector certainly have the economic power and capabilities to become software market leaders in their own sector.

However, even the best software will not help the data performance and the level of security in a digital car without the proper infrastructure behind it. Infrastructure remains the foundation for digital performance because if the latency (response time) is too high, if the connection is not secure, and if the data volumes cannot be processed or stored, even the best software won’t perform well. It will be crucial for the end-user experience and the performance of the digital car that car makers use interconnection infrastructure directly and have their own setups in data centres around the globe. Because every single millisecond counts.

Infrastructure is the foundation for the digital car

There is no car manufacturer on the planet today who doesn’t realize the potential of digitalization and connectivity in relation to their products. Some major automotive manufacturers have begun to connect to interconnection platforms for their cloud connectivity needs, and for better control of their connections. It will be necessary for all carmakers to get involved in infrastructure, own their connectivity, define their interconnection approaches for evolving business models and services, interconnect application suppliers and the last mile providers, and control this data journey in the commercial sense. It’s about performance.

It’s about security, it’s about flexibility, and it’s about compliance. Without controlling the infrastructure, these four crucial components for becoming an integral stakeholder in this trillion-dollar business will not be manageable. The car manufacturers today want to moderate this data journey.

Interconnecting with partners via an IX enables aggregation in an improved latency to the location of the car, and therefore with improved stability. By choosing an IX that already has an established and vibrant ecosystem of diverse networks, a car manufacturer can be right on the spot, where the digital economy of the future is being moulded.

Automotive networks can thus meet in the most direct and shortest way with all the data suppliers and buyers that are important to them – and those that in future are likely to become important. With a direct interconnect, coupled with a Closed User Group (CUG) specifically designed for enterprise interconnection, the connection on the network side can be ideally optimized, reducing latency to the other provider networks and data centres involved.

Creating interconnection ecosystems for industries – the digital car as a model

We see three overriding challenges that carmakers are confronted with when exchanging vast amounts of data with many different partners:

  • The provision of services and features smoothly and with fast reaction times (dependent on the performance and reliability of the connectivity to other networks)
  • The fulfilment of compliance requirements for multiple regions around the globe where the car may be sold or driven (high levels of legal and regulatory complexity, increasing exponentially with the number of networks and service providers involved).
  • The security of the network, in order to ensure that the car is protected from any form of unauthorized manipulation.

Previously, the automotive manufacturers’ approach was a best-effort solution involving Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and IP transit (upstream), with no end-to-end control of the traffic, flows between the car and the networks delivering data to or receiving data from the car. This creates challenges for the networks: The more intermediaries between two networks, the higher the latency, the greater the risk of performance and security issues, and the more complex compliance becomes. Because if you do not control the data value chain, you cannot control any of this.

The automotive manufacturer as custodian of personal privacy

However, using a CUG not only improves the latency and performance of your connections but also helps with the fulfilment of data protection and compliance requirements – giving you control of your data value chain. Connected vehicles collect a huge amount of personal data. Controlling compliance through connecting individually to each partner network and forging individual bilateral relationships – as was done in the past in the automotive industry – is not future-oriented for the digital car. Such a solution does not scale well to larger ecosystems involving more players.

The network on wheels - reducing complexity in the digital car

The complexity of controlling the compliance of many partners can be overcome by creating a secure and private closed user group, with the OEM’s compliance policies a prerequisite for participation by partner networks.

There’s another solution: A CUG is a closed, secure, and private interconnection environment on the DE-CIX platform, in which policies for compliance requirements are enabled. This allows the fulfilment of policies to function as a prerequisite for all the participants of the group, which can be efficiently controlled.

Mitigating the risk of anonymous malicious third parties

The issue of security is even more critical. A highly charged threat scenario for the digital car is the potential theft of the driver’s identity or the car itself – that it could be hijacked, manipulated technically, or in the worst case even weaponized. The direct interconnection of the networks in a CUG allows security to be substantially improved. Minimizing the intermediary transporters means fewer possibilities for anonymous third parties to lurk in the shadows. This is not possible with traditional IP transit – where the only option is to place traffic into the hands of a transit provider, who, in turn, announces the packet requests back to the global Internet.

In a CUG, the manufacturer knows exactly which network has sent data – the connection having been checked using BGP and Layer 2 validation instruments. The risk of hijack or a DDoS attack originating from this network is much lower. On top of that, DE-CIX can provide additional security to protect networks from route hijacks, IP hijacking, and DDoS attacks, shielding the digital car and its ecosystem against the most significant risks of the open Internet.

Connecting partners – the digital car of the future is a network on wheels

Protecting digital products and customers

Multiple layers of security: The secure ecosystem of the closed user group can be further protected by additional security services provided by the Internet Exchange operator.

Many of the challenges car manufacturers face in implementing connectivity for the digital car – the network on wheels – can be solved in this way. With the logic of secure interconnection within a Closed User Group located in a vibrant digital ecosystem – via DE-CIX, home to the largest neutral ecosystems in the world.

This same logic applies just as well to other transport sectors, like airlines and logistics suppliers. But also to all industries entering the platform economy – banks, e-health system operators, hospitality, e-manufacturing with global supply chains, and many more in future. Closed, secure, and private interconnection environments offer everyone the chance to grow and develop their digital business models with security and resilience baked in.


How to get maximum benefits of Peering

Peering is a process by which two Internet networks connect and exchange traffic to distribute traffic to each other’s customers without having to pay a third party to carry that traffic across the Internet for them. The routing protocol that allows peering between ISPs is Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), which is free and benefits all ISPs.

Below are top five ways to get the maximum benefits of Peering.

Optimize your routing data base entry Please make sure that you:

? have your routing data in just one routing database like IRINN, TRAI, etc. (unless you are a global player)

? have all used prefixes covered by one correct database entry, matching the ASN which they come from (more-specifics need dedicated entries too)

? have all active own and customer ASNs and AS-SETs listed in your main AS-SET – and remove unused ones

Use the route servers (2 session’s IPv4, 2 sessions IPv6

The route servers help you to get the majority of possible sessions. It will help you to avoid extra work to configure all the new arriving members.

Verify your prefix amounts and details

Please verify via the route server looking glass whether the route server accepts all of your sent prefixes. If you see a difference, most probably you have not specified the right AS-SET during turn-up or you have missing or wrong routing database entries.

Keep your PeeringDB entry up to date

Please update your PeeringDB record or create a record if you have none yet. is the tool for all peering administrators.

You can refer to the article here for benefits and importance of having updated peeringDB account in Hindi.

Go for direct sessions to members who are not on the route server and with large or important networks

Not everybody peers with the route server. And not everybody who peers with the route server sends or imports prefixes. Check on the looking glass who is not present at the route server (session down, zero prefixes) and ask them for a direct session.

Route Server Peering helps new peers to exchanges traffic with other peers from day one over the shared fabric.

Many of the very large operators or CDNs send more prefixes via a direct session and/or give you more priority and traffic engineering focus on direct sessions. Examples are: Akamai, Google, Microsoft etc. Some large CDNs like e.g. Limelight are, in general, not present at route servers. So have an eye on such important players too.

The same is true for your individually important partner networks. Secure your traffic path to all those who are important for you with direct sessions.

The top five points described above are based on DE-CIX’s whitepaper on 10 useful tips on how to maximize the benefits of peering. The white paper can be downloaded here

A Complete Guide to an Internet Exchange Point

What does an Internet Exchange Point do? How does it work? What benefits does it provide, and why are more and more ISPs turning to them? Find out here:

  • What Is An Internet Exchange Point?

An Internet exchange point (IXP) is a network point at which Internet service providers and Content Delivery Networks exchange Internet traffic between their networks. At an IXP, all participants’ networks interconnect via common switching equipment instead of via each other’s internal infrastructure. Each participant in an IXP generally has two connections to every other participant’s networks: one for incoming traffic from peers at a lower speed which will be delivered internally, and another for sending higher-speed traffic to peers external to that organization. Thus, an IXP allows Internet service providers to exchange high volumes of traffic among themselves without incurring these costs on their own infrastructure or purchasing transit services from any other entity. Inbound data can come at higher speeds without being throttled by low-speed customer connections, and outbound data can be delivered more quickly with fewer hops across different networks.

  • History Of IXPs

The growth of Internet traffic over time is staggering: At its inception, on October 29th, 1969—the moment you’ve likely heard about as being the birth of the Internet—less than 5 kilobytes of data was transmitted over ARPANET. Forty years later (as of November 2010), ARPANET alone transferred an astounding 10 petabytes of data per day! As such, ISP-to-ISP connections using IXPs are not something we need today because there isn’t enough capacity built into the Internet infrastructure to support them yet. This will change soon, though. As Web 2.0 and social media continue to grow in popularity and importance, ISPs will start building more connections between each other so that every device, no matter where it is physically located in global networks, can access all services.

  • Benefits Of An Internet Exchange Point

IXPs allow organizations with direct connections to exchange Internet traffic without paying for transit. Traffic can be transported between exchanges using any protocol and topology with no restrictions. They provide a more efficient route of network traffic by eliminating intermediate providers. An IXP also eliminates congestion and packet loss in networks caused by downstream providers at peering points. Another major benefit of IXP is network resilience.

  • How Does It Work?

An Internet exchange point (IXP) is a large and geographically distributed network of IP routers through which many Internet service providers (ISPs) exchange Internet traffic. This architecture allows local ISPs to connect and exchange traffic with each other rather than send all traffic out through their international links. Traffic from one IXP can be quickly switched to another if there is a link failure or if there are problems with any of the equipment in a particular IXP.

  • Where Are They Located?

The simplest way of defining it is as a physical location where Internet service providers (ISPs) interconnect, forming a point through which data can pass directly between them. So, essentially, Internet exchange points are places where ISPs come together—usually in a neutral, third-party building or at least not in their own facilities—to trade traffic freely and without being charged.

To conclude

Internet Exchange Points are a great way to exchange internet traffic between various networks that do not have direct connections. It can significantly lower latency and increase overall network performance. This write-up aims to give you a basic understanding of what an Internet Exchange Point is, how it works, and its benefits.

4 Challenges for Connected Cars in Practice

There is currently a lot of talk about connected cars and autonomous driving. But for them to actually succeed in reality, there are some prerequisites: In the future, automakers must see themselves as digital companies and the necessary infrastructures must be expanded. Of course, data protection and security must also always be maintained. Ivo Ivanov, CEO of DE-CIX International, the world’s leading Internet Exchange operator, has formulated four of the most important challenges:


1. From driving performance to digital performance

Performance, acceleration from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour, fuel type, and fuel consumption: traditionally, driving performance and such engine parameters as these played a decisive role in the selection of a car. This could change in the future, as digitalization makes ever greater advances in vehicle design and operation. Studies by Deloitte and Mckinsey suggest that in the future, the digital aspects of a vehicle will play a much greater role in purchasing decisions. Software will become an important differentiator in the market. The trend is moving towards “everything from a single source” for the handling of car-related data: classic carmakers are becoming software developers, and on the other hand even digital pioneers like Apple are trying their hand at car making.

2. The question of data sovereignty

The trend toward an integrated offering (vehicle and software from the same manufacturer) must also be seen against the backdrop of data usage and data protection. The data that connected cars generate masse is a valuable asset that no one wants to lose control over. But even more important is not to jeopardize the trust of customers. Anyone who opts for a connected vehicle wants the manufacturer to handle their data with great care. Should problems arise here, the reputation of established brands would be seriously jeopardized. Whether through in-house development or in collaboration with trusted third parties, car manufacturers must be able to guarantee that data protection and control of the data is always, without question, maintained.

3. Latency – the critical factor

Latencies, i.e. delays in data transmission, are experienced in everyday life, for example, in the form of jitter and buffering when streaming videos or online games. These effects are annoying, but not critical. It’s a different story with connected vehicles: if, for example, the communication and navigation of emergency vehicles were to be impaired, serious and potentially life-threatening situations could quickly arise. If cars are to be able to drive autonomously at some point, latency will become an even more crucial safety factor. It can’t be that critical data from your car is transferred to a data center hundreds of miles away, and then back again. This is because data, like most other things, cannot travel faster than light, and thus geographic proximity becomes an essential parameter to meet the high demands of autonomous mobility. In the future, this will require small, decentralized data centers along important transport routes to ensure fast and reliable data transfer.

4. Measures for ensuring cyber security

The possibility of hackers gaining external control of a connected car is one of the worst imaginable horror scenarios of autonomous mobility. What can manufacturers do to prevent such attacks, but also less dramatic ones? peering (exchanging data) at an Internet Exchange is an ideal measure for shielding sensitive data traffic of connected or autonomous cars from unauthorized access and manipulation.

The bottom line:

Connected and autonomous cars will fundamentally transform the world of mobility. Consumer preferences will change, and established brands will need to adapt in order to remain successful. At the same time, digital infrastructure needs to be re-conceptualized and expanded to meet the increasing requirements in terms of data transmission and processing. Internet Exchanges such as DE-CIX, where all threads come together and where secure communication takes place between all stakeholders, play a central role as digital data hubs.