Durban has become the first South African city to get a multi-site Internet exchange point, following a public private partnership between INX-ZA and Ethekwini Municipality (Durban Municipality).
By contributing resources from its Ethekwini Fibre Metro project, the City of Durban has been able to work towards its socio economic goals to promote the local economy. Having multiple site Internet Exchanges, lowers the operating costs for local Internet Service Providers based in Durban, increases the quality of the experience for Durban users, especially when accessing websites hosted locally in Durban.
Internet exchange points enable Internet Service Providers to interconnect their networks, so that users benefit from faster connections and more efficient access to online services. Internet exchanges in South Africa have historically been limited to a single location, requiring ISPs using the exchange, to have infrastructure connecting to that location. Now, with the support of the Ethekwini Metro and Internet Solutions, INX-ZA has been able to extend the Durban Internet Exchange (DINX) to a second location, in Umhlanga.
Nishal Goburdhan, INX-ZA’s manager, explains: “The extension of DINX makes it easy for Internet companies who already have infrastructure in Umhlanga to connect to peers at the existing DINX location. Peers at the new site will have the same peering experience and will be able to be directly linked, at no additional complexity to all existing, and future DINX peers. Network operators now get more flexibility in the choice of location that they may want to host their infrastructure at.
“Companies connecting to DINX also get immediate access to resilient core Internet infrastructure services, like the domain name services hosted at the current DINX location, which means that users on their networks are less likely to experience down-time if the global domain name system comes under attack.”
The extension to DINX has been supported by the Ethekwini Metro and Internet Solutions. “Internet Solutions has been an active supporter of South Africa’s Internet exchanges for nearly twenty years,” says Greg Montjoie, executive: carrier and connectivity at Internet Solutions. “Our Umhlanga facilities already provides services to a number of Internet companies, so hosting an extension to DINX makes technical sense, and benefits IS customers, as well as providing another resilient interconnection point for the industry.”
An early adopter of the new DINX service is eNetworks. Technical manager Saul Stein has this to say about the project: “The multi-site INX (Internet Exchange) in Umhlanga has afforded our Durban based customers the same experience as their counter parts in Johannesburg and Cape Town, allowing us to inter-connect to peer ISPs in the region. Being based in Umhlanga, it was a phenomenal experience for the INX to extended out to Umhlanga, rather than having to build out to the INX.”
INX-ZA began as a project of the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA), but is now independently managed by the users of the Internet exchanges. INX-ZA currently operates the only community-run, public Internet exchanges in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. The Johannesburg exchange point is the oldest Internet exchange on the continent, and has provided uninterrupted services to users since December 1996. Plans are underway to extend multisite capabilities to JINX and CINX.
The connection between the existing Riverhorse Valley location and Umhlanga is being provided by the Ethekwini Metro fibre project.
Goburdhan comments: “We’ve been busy, working silently to build systems that help to improve things at network infrastructure level. We expect that in the next few months, many of these initiatives will start to mature, and network operators, present at the various INXes across the country, will start to reap the benefits.”