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LINX Meets Increasing Bandwidth Demands With Brocade’s NetIron MLX Series

New 10 Gbps Capacity Helps LINX Cope With Surging Internet Traffic Volumes of 460 Gbps at Peak Times and the Demands of Over 330 Members, With a New Member Joining Each Week

November 6, 2009 12:00 by

Brocade® (Nasdaq: BRCD) today announced that the London Internet Exchange (LINX), one of the largest Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) globally, has upgraded its infrastructure adding further 10 Gbps Ethernet capacity as membership growth continues unabated, and demand for higher connectivity speeds increases.

To meet the growing demand, due to sharply rising traffic volume, LINX installed Brocade NetIron MLX series switches, along with additional Brocade BigIron RX series backbone switches. The equipment was supplied through Brocade partner, Calyx.

LINX is a not-for-profit organization owned by its network operator and Internet Service Provider members offering cost effective peering and interconnection facilities. Now in its fifteenth year of operation, LINX was founded to enable Internet traffic to be exchanged efficiently so as to reduce costs and to provide more direct routing of traffic for the membership, which now totals 330 organizations worldwide. One new member joined each week during 2008, and 31 new applications have already been received in 2009 alone, with growth coming from operators in Eastern Europe and Africa, along with those based in the Middle East. The volume of global Internet traffic handled has therefore ballooned from 116 Gbps in 2006 to 460 Gbps at peak times today with a further 210 Gbps managed on LINX’s Private Interconnect services.

Mike Hughes, LINX’s Chief Technology Officer, said: “If you add up all the edge ports where members connect to the exchange it would total 2 terabits per second of bandwidth, of which just under 25 percent is used based on today’s traffic flows.”

To provide peering services, LINX has around 675 member ports1, of which 195 are 10 Gbps or multiples of it, yet these account for around 85 percent of the connected bandwidth of the exchange.

Hughes continued: “As existing members grow and need more capacity, they surrender their existing 1 Gbps port(s) and scale up to 10 Gbps, with the slower ports then recycled for new members. Three or four years ago, 10 Gbps router ports from some manufacturers were the price of a nice house, but Brocade helped, in part, to drive the price down for the entire industry so that we’re now only buying additional capacity for the exchange at 10 Gbps speed.”

This has driven the need for LINX to upgrade its infrastructure to cope with the quantity of members wanting to connect at 10 Gbps. LINX has installed the Brocade NetIron MLX 32 and MLX-16 switches2 at its points of presence (PoPs) at Telehouse Europe’s Docklands North and East buildings, and TelecityGroup’s Sovereign House facility.

Hughes added: “At the time of upgrading, the Brocade NetIron platform was the only solution available on the market to offer the high capacity port density we required, while also providing extensive link aggregation capabilities all in one chassis. This effectively means we can trunk individual 10 Gbps ports to make one fat pipe of up to 160 Gbps in one box. This is important given the 100 Gbps standard has yet to be ratified and we won’t see significant movement in this area until later in 2010, yet need that kind of performance today.”

This is crucial to the IXP because as speeds at the edge of the network increase - with more and more members choosing 10 Gbps peering connections - it is important that the core of LINX’s network keeps pace and is an order of magnitude faster to avoid traffic bottlenecks.

As part of the upgrade, and due to requests from some members who wanted to be able to connect to LINX outside of the London Docklands area [to offer geographical diversity and redundancy], three new PoPs have been opened. In Q4 2008, LINX took co-location space at Equinix’s brand new data centre in Slough and TelecityGroup’s Powergate site in Acton, plus re-opened a PoP in the City of London at Interxion’s London data centre. These sites are all connected together by secure diverse dark fibre, leased from Geo and Level 3, linking back to LINX’s Docklands PoPs.

Across the network, LINX has upgraded the switch environment to increase the number of Brocade BigIron RX-8 and RX-16 series backbone switches at each site, replacing legacy equipment to ensure that each site is comparable with the new London operations. With the new PoPs and equipment upgrades, LINX has created a new network topology of multiple interconnected rings running at different speeds to allow ‘right-sizing’ of the network. In conjunction with rapid failover protection features in the Brocade switches which ensure non stop operation (called MRP23), this means that adding sites or changing the available bandwidth to a subset of sites is far easier, which makes future network changes simpler.

Ulrich Plechschmidt, vice president, EMEA at Brocade, concluded: “When LINX was founded in 1994, there were no IXPs and the routing of traffic was slow and expensive. LINX has been an innovator in making the Internet efficient and cost effective for service providers. Its importance continues to grow, not just in the UK, but globally given the diversity of members who now come from 47 countries. As a key strategic partner, Brocade is proud to play its part in making this happen with a relationship fast approaching a decade.”

This ongoing upgrading and evolution of the network results from LINX’s long term investment in Brocade technology which first started in 2000, with the exchange one of the first organizations to purchase its standards-based 10 Gbps switching solutions in 2002, and later its Brocade BigIron RX-16 platform in 2006.

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