August 26, 2014
African Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) in its fifth year!
African operators deepen discussions on interconnection
For the past five years, the Internet Society has convened African experts to discuss Internet exchange point (IXP) development, network interconnection, and the importance of keeping more traffic within Africa. We do this through an event called AfPIF – see this link to our website for more information: www.internetsociety.org/afpif in general and see this link for information about @afpif2014: www.internetsociety.org/afpif-2014 And, we work closely with partners across Africa and around the world to help develop and level-up IXPs, train experts, and work to increase Internet infrastructure.
This year, AfPIF celebrates an important milestone – it is in its fifth year! We are very excited to be in Dakar, Senegal and to look out at the Future of Peering in Africa. Our local host is the Senegalese communications regulator (www.artpsenegal.net) and we have great sponsors and experts working with us. We also are very lucky to be working with the Internet Society’s Chapter in Senegal. The Chapter was started in 1999 and the current team is helping us with the organization of the meeting and is participating actively in the event!
In Africa over the last five years, Internet service providers (ISPs), content providers and network providers have met here at AfPIF to discuss ways to better interconnect the continent through more sustainable, and efficient and effective mechanisms.
Yesterday the first day of AfPIF 2014 – Day One – was dedicated to a “Peering Coordinators Day”. This allows participants to “get up to speed” and hear from technical experts who run networks and “peer”. We know from past AfPIFs and from discussions here in Dakar, that there is great benefit in hearing more about network optimization, and to better understand how to maximize the value of interconnection at an Internet Exchange Point (IXP).
We had more than 140 participants and 190 unique visitors participating remotely. We started Day One with an invitation to participants to forward their Autonomous System (AS) number information to our team so that we can link IXPs, CDNs, and other operators to each other. At the end of every day, participants take the floor and introduce themselves by AS numbers, peering location, peering policies, and whom they would like to meet with during the course of the meeting. In addition, a brief overview of the AfPIF meeting and what to expect was also provided.
Our first presentation was from Bill Norton “Dr. Peering” – someone who has been to every AfPIF. Bill introduced “The Peering Simulation Game”, and set the tone for the day by introducing key terms used in the peering process and factors to consider when deciding with whom to peer. The Peering Game allows participants to make decisions that simulate “real life” peering discussions and negotiations. For the first time the Peering Game was conducted entirely in French. Irina Trentea from LyonIX assisted with the Peering Game and has been the key expert helping us translate the Peering Playbook into French (the Playbook French book launch will be held on Day Two!).
The afternoon of Day One was dedicated to a variety of presentations. Jeremy Fleury, CloudFlare, took participants through the process of using tools to better understand a companies’ network traffic composition, and noted that through Netflow and S-Flow, the ISP can improve its traffic engineering, gather and share information on the amount of data being exchanged with other networks, and better inform the need to peer. These tools can also be used to provide data to network operators on the kind of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, security threats and measures put in place to thwart such attacks. Cloudflare is looking to set up more POPs in more countries, especially in Africa.
Simon Baroi from fiber@home demonstrated how the peering and transit business model may direct the technical strategy of an ISP to great success. Finally, Mike Blanche, from Google took participants through some of the basics of peering negotiations. Key factors to success are:
- Research and analyze your network
- Sign up for the meeting-maker tool, which facilitates meetings with various participants at AfPIF
- Meet potential peers
- Exchange ideas and agree to set up peering
- Set up peering and configure hardware
There is a great deal of energy at this meeting as experts from all over the African continent and world are coming together to share their experience, “know how”, and ideas. We are looking forward to the next two days and will keep you updated here!