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What is the difference between local and remote peering?

An AMS-IX Story

Tatiana Cury

Tatiana Cury

Product Marketing Manager

What is the difference between local and remote peering?

Peering allows workloads from one internet exchange member to pass on to another member's network. This minimizes latency, improving the end user experience. Multiple forms of peering are available, such as local and remote peering. In this blog post we compare both options, and explore which form of peering is most suitable for your organization.

What is peering?

The internet consists of many smaller networks, called autonomous systems (ASes). Each AS is essentially a network of routers managed by a single organization, such as an Internet Service Provider (ISP). The AS can be compared to a local post office. When you send a mail to the other side of the country, this message first gets delivered to the local post office branch. This local office then sends the mail to its destination. An AS does the same for data packets and routes them to their destination via another AS.

Peering is the voluntary interconnection of separate ASes. With peering members of an internet exchange decide to let each other’s workloads pass on their networks. Peering plays a crucial role in improving connectivity and internet access, while reducing costs. It facilitates efficient data exchange between networks.

Parties can decide to let workloads pass freely, called settlement-free peering. This is a common form of peering in situations in which both parties benefit mutually from the peering agreement. If the peering advantages are however not symmetrical, parties can also charge other members of an internet exchange for the use of their network. This is called paid peering.

What is the difference between local and remote peering?

To use peering, an AS must connect to a peering infrastructure. Multiple options are available: local and remote peering. Local peering - also called direct peering - is relevant for ASes geographically close to the metro area of a peering infrastructure. In this case the AS physically connects their access router to the switching fabric of an internet exchange.

An alternative to local peering is remote peering. Using remote peering, parties establish a peering relationship and connect their networks remotely. This means that the parties involved don’t need a physical presence in the same facility, and therefore gain flexibility.

Local and remote peering are both suitable and relevant for different use cases. In short, local peering is ideal for networks within the same datacenter or region, while remote peering allows you to bridge geographical gaps. Local peering focuses on keeping local traffic local, while remote peering extends connectivity globally.

What is the most suitable option for you?

Local and remote peering both offer their own advantages, benefits and downsides. For example, local peering reduces dependency on external networks and connections, which improves network stability. Remote peering on the other hand increases your flexibility substantially, by offering the ability to connect to an infinite number of networks.

Which form of peering is the most suitable option for you depends on your specific needs and geographical reach. In an upcoming blog we will dive deeper into the benefits, possibilities and features of local and remote peering. You will get a complete view of both options and we will help you choose the form of peering that is most suitable for your organization and use cases.

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