With the exponential growth in digital application and content consumption by the consumer, the role of the Internet Exchange and Cloud Exchange is very important. The lowest latency in access is always deterministic factor for the growth of the ISPs. Enterprise IT World spoke to Sudhir Kunder, Country Director, DE-CIX India about how IX plays in India. An Excerpt.
What is the role of Internet exchange?
An IXP is a very simple Infrastructure and physical location where ISPs and the CDN networks connect to each other. This is the location where all other set ups are available for the customers in terms of accessing the capacity in their regional locations. As a result of which the bandwidth that we use for any transaction is available without latency Suppose somebody wants to do a Google search, the data would typically use a transit bandwidth and go to the Californian server of Google, bring it back. Therefore, the latency becomes high and there is a cost involved in doing the search. But these challenges today are mitigated using a single platform. On one side, you have DE-CIX as a service provider, on the other side you have Google, Facebook and Akamai like service providers and the top 45 CDNs providers. As a result of this we are able to help companies get better control on their traffic and have offloading to the extent of 92% when it comes to India and also get full redundancy depending on how they are structured themselves. These are the few things IX does for them. And in our case, there are a couple of steps more because we also provide multiple services across a single access port, thereby giving the ISPs an opportunity to be at a great advantage where not only are they going to save money and have better funds available for their own organization, but also earn via our DE-CIX direct Cloud Model wherein they would be able to serve his SME and Enterprise customers.
Who are the beneficiaries of IX? Is it the consumers or the B2B customers?
The beneficiaries are spread across the spectrum. The first beneficiary is the ISP because they are able to have CAPEX saving to the extent of 92% in Bombay, 80- 85% in Delhi and about 75-80% in Chennai. As a result of which one great beneficiaries, obviously the ISP’s, but since he gets traffic locally, the customers who are connected to that ISP are also beneficiaries because they get everything at the speed of thought. Today it looks like very simple, everything is fine, but if you go back in time and see how things were when the pandemic struck there was so much of uncertainty! We were all in our homes for a prolonged period where a lot of people could manage their financial health because of proper connectivity at the same time, we also contributed to the mental wellbeing of the people. Imagine if you are going to browse a particular ecommerce channel – Amazon or Netflix or anything of your choice and you face buffering as you don’t have right Internet connectivity, you are going to be in bad shape. So that time everyone in the ecosystem supported the consumers including the CDNs, ISPs, OTT players and even the Telcos. So, when it came to beneficiaries everyone benefited including the CDNs, ISPs, OTTs and the Telco. As there was a boom.
One of the major things that we wanted to bring to the fore is that we help customers connect up to us coming in from various parts of India. So, the Telcos via their point-to-point network also grew and so did the social media networks.
On the other side enterprises were able to use our Direct Cloud Services in such a manner that today across a single access port, if somebody wants access Azure or AWS, Telco goes ahead and gives it as a plug & play mechanism. From a time when the Telcos thought that it’s not a great idea to be collaborating with an IX, our follow up with them and our relationship that we carried through the years has helped them also understand and appreciate the fact that this is something that benefits both the sides of the spectrum. Today a large telco in India in the month of October launched a white labeled service and DE-CIX Direct Cloud is now being sold as their service also.
We have been able to upgrade to the extent of 2600 Gig from June to December 2021, which tells clearly about how we help ISPs to serve their customers. We offer plug and play solutions and cutting-edge technology that is available globally. Readiness has never been a challenge to us. Therefore, uptime has never been a challenge to us.
What is your business model?
The model that we adopt globally is of an enabler. We do not have last mile connectivity. Today we have 206000+ villages connected over broadband in India, but we need to have all 600000 villages connected. So the headroom is so large that we need to have multiple solution providers. But there are challenges that an ISP would face is that it would go to a Telco for raw internet bandwidth and if you have a company line DE-CIX who offloads 90% of that cost – meaning, Rs.27 lacs out of Rs.30 lac, and ISP is saving out of coming onboard with DE-CIX, the ISP creates an ability to spend that money in the right placed of network to grow his business in that area. So, the consumer would never ask for our service but eventually as we grow and the information spreads, people would eventually know that the seamless service they use from their ISP or Telco, they would come to know about our position in the entire scheme of things. The net result is immense – example, 2018, we had only one OTT player in India via Reliance, today we in the month of December, we have 52 odd OTT players in the market.
How do you see the relevance of IXs in the Edge Computing?
It is such a critical infrastructural component that today data needs to be as close to the source as much possible. If there is something happening in Kolhapur or Mizoram, why does that data need to come all the way to Kolkata or Mumbai. That is where the Edge Data Center story will evolve where you have the consumers on one side and players like us on the other part, whereby content applications, and services available in that particular location. Today the connected cars use AI and other similar services may be using 5G and IoT. All these have to have a hub where the technologies can intermingle and get the best bang for the buck in terms of your investments. That is how Edge DCs will happen to be one of the most important and critical factors in the digital acceleration of many organizations. Organizations have already started adopting the new-gen technologies. There are use cases abroad where we see 5G being used extensively at edge locations. We see along with IOT and AI, it is going to create a digital triangle.
What is DE-CIX’ strategy now in India amid DC boom and data explosion?
I want to see DE-CIX continues to be the conduit for bringing digital everywhere for everyone. In the near future, while are clearcut objective is going to be data centers, as you can probably see from an announcement that how we think out of the box and look at leveraging all ecosystem players as one and ensure that we get larger reach. Traditionally, DE-CIX was only available via data centers because we are the only legal exchange in India and everything and anything that we do is as per the norms of the Indian government. We don’t give handoffs outside. We invest tremendous amount of CAPEX into keeping our infrastructure robust and future ready. By virtue of that, we are available only in chosen 16 data centers across India in these four metros. Recently we had an alliance with Lightstorm, which helped us immediately to have extended access to a lot of customers who are sitting at non- DE-CIX POP, thereby extending our reach by another 23 data centers where we are going to be available.
Similarly, very soon we will make some alliance with local edge players. It is our clear-cut strategy that we have to go far and deep. You will see that the push for fast, resilient and secure networks. It will keep on growing and they have to be ultimately fulfilled by interconnecting with an exchange like ours which will give your ability to have Internet exchange and cloud exchange. This will open the gates for more cloud service providers to also increase their presence within the Indian landscape. For example, the magnanimity of the country or the largeness of it, only comes to our mind when we look at it from a different viewing glass today. If you look at Uttar Pradesh, it would have been the 5th largest country in the world. So that’s the kind of geographic reach available and there is going to be development. We are playing a clearcut role where solutions which come become more cutting edge from our side with more affordability, scalability, reliability and robust for the adopters.
What’s the competitive advantage you’re offering to the customer?
People normally look at this business with a little bit of a different viewing glass. It is not what you have that matters. It is what you do with what you have that matters. So, for last five years, what we are able to orchestrate by putting together all the critical elements in place do really matter. In last two and half years, we have been able to make this organization a successful one. We have a unique set of services which we have been able to put to the right set of stakeholders in the right perspective. Multiple services across a single access port happens to be one of the most critical elements where Internet exchange, cloud exchange and a couple of other services come across as a single access port service. Cloud exchange typically would allow you to access four large cloud players today on a direct basis, counter winning the entire open Internet today used to reach to them. This means AWS. Azure, Google and Oracle – these are the four CSPs which you will have direct connect as a result of accelerating your digital transformation journey. As an enterprise, if you are taking a very heavy bandwidth from the telcos, substantial amount of that, CAPEX optimization can also be done by offloading that traffic on to DE-CIX. So, the investment for an enterprise is only one after which he creates multiple service layers on the same platform. Very soon, we are launching Microsoft Azure Peering Services, which is very unique to us and this service was developed jointly between US and the Microsoft team. This helps one across the entire O365 dynamics and the entire Microsoft services in such a manner that one is able to have full control on traffic and bring down latencies to the extent of 90%. There is also a case study of this service by Hochtief, which is the fifth largest construction company headquartered out of Germany. This company has brought down latency from 51 milliseconds to five milliseconds. Not only did they have better experience for themselves and their staff, but they were also able to have 50% less troubled tickets. This is the cutting-edge technology that we bring to the table. Reliability, robustness, scalability, compliance, measured SLA, etc. all the features DE-CIX offers.
Not only do we offer a single access port across, but we also offer a secure connection that bypasses Internet in a matter where you have fully protection against DDoS attacks, guaranteed SLA’s, measurable quality, stable packet routes. We were the first company to go ahead and, you know, implement the IRDB filtering, which makes the networks more secure and robust.
We implemented the DWDM in the month of February. This helped us to offer the most desirable uptimes. We also manage the complete life cycle of the customer. When a customer, whether an enterprise or ISP reaches 60% of the capacity, we proactively would reach out to them and inform about the status and if there is any upgrade needed, we extend our support – event to the extent of moving from one Telco to another if need arrives. We own the entire customer lifecycle journey and remain in every step of the customer growth store. This kind of personal attention we offer to the customer and customer obsession is what has led to what we are today, and we intend to fortify that unassailable lead that we will look at for ourselves.
You already have 16 DC connects and cross 500 customer connects, what is the road map?
The first part of the road map is already taken shape in the way we extended our availability across the locations. We look at South India as a very potent Eldorado for the interconnection and data center industry. Hence a little bit of undivided attention going into the Southern India market as much as we are ramping up our operations in the North of India. We are also moving to Bangalore, Hyderabad and a couple of other locations which are currently under discussion by the board. In addition to that, when there is an edge location piece coming through, how we are going to be a part of that story as the most preferred and most desirable interconnection platform being there, is something you will see in the near future.
How are you creating deterrence to the growing cyberattacks on the networks?
To a large extent we do play a very critical role when it comes to customers’ apprehensions when it comes to cyber security. It is increasingly becoming a focus area for enterprises across the industry. So, connecting to multi-vendor solutions is one of the most difficult challenges that organizations are facing today while implementing security rather than a comprehensive threat. Our infrastructure security is extended at various points and various times. As a result, it is critical for organizations to look at this as a special subject for themselves and have a location which is an interconnection platform where each point of connection before being incorporated into the wide network, gets the security layer that they can implement there that is number. DE-CIX’s accessing port offers you Direct Cloud services, which is 110% secured because it has got nothing to do with external reach. That is where the security for the cloud services come into play. Within the next quarter the Microsoft Azure peering services comes in on the same platform where security is a given. In addition to that, in the coming year, we will also launch a product called as Blackholing to mitigate DDoS attacks. This is widely used across enterprises in Europe and US. Especially in Spain, we see that access being adopted very rapidly in the recent past. We are there where the enterprises have been looking for that kind of a solution and some of them have already adopted that. There is a Test and Development organization which takes both AWS and Azure Connect with us on the same access port. Also, it has helped them bring down there 6 Gigs of Internet bandwidth that they used to take from a Telco to one and half Gigs. As a result of which we can actually demonstrate our abilities and capabilities. And we are seeing the enterprises are slowly but firmly moving towards adoption of these services.