2018 was an exciting year for me. In my first year at the organisation I mainly focused on setting priorities and strategizing. Furthermore, I reviewed the current internal processes and the organisation as a whole.
Similar to 2017, external circumstances such as: consolidation of parties in our ecosystem, integration of services and strong competitors entering our markets with new propositions and additional commercial services influenced our performance. For Amsterdam, we were able to decrease our prices- per 1st January 2018- and still show a modest revenue growth to EUR 21.5 million. AMS-IX Caribbean and Hong Kong continue to strengthen their market positions by extending into additional locations and introduce new services. The AMS-IX India model has shown that sharing knowledge, deliver NOC services and supplying software to our local partner Sify not only contributes to brand awareness, but also results in attracting new parties to AMS-IX’s home market in Amsterdam. AMS-IX India is growing steadily and has become an important player in the region.
USA Chicago and Bay Area did not show sufficient revenue growth, therefore both Management Team and Supervisory Board focussed on finding a solution for existing customers in the USA supplying suitable services at similar levels of quality. During the Q4 board meeting, the Supervisory Board adopted the Management Team’s proposal to liquidate the US activities unless a suitable party to facilitate customers in the USA is contracted by March 2019.
We (the Management Team) and a number of assigned people in the organisation, implemented the new strategy as adopted by the Supervisory Board and approved during the General Meeting in December 2017, amongst other things leading to the launch of new services such as EasyAccess and IX-as-a-Service (IXaaS).
Two, out of the three pillars of our ‘Focus on the Product’ strategy were executed in 2018:
1. Evaluate products and services to help customers better utilize their ports, open up our ecosystem, show connected networks, share and promote services and make connecting through our ecosystem easy. 2. Develop new products; The EasyAccess proposition enables connectivity for regions outside of the Amsterdam Metro region.
In 2018 we welcomed customers from new markets, such as the enterprise market, particularly fast-moving consumer goods, logistics and payment services. We are working on attracting more customers from these markets with solutions to improve their business applications.
On a different note, after serious consideration we decided to decommission our New York location. In India, we moved to the GPX facility, in collaboration with our partner Sify. Traffic in India keeps growing steadily. In Hong Kong, we carried out successful joint marketing activities with HGC. In the Caribbean region, we will deploy a new data centre in Curaçao by end of Q1 2019.
The 3rd pillar of our ‘Focus on the Product’ strategy – Explore new markets - is scheduled for 2019. The IX-as-a-Service proposition targets international markets.
To reach new markets and customers, we will also introduce a new provisioning system. This will enhance billing and offer greater flexibility in enabling applications, third-party services and product development opportunities.
We aim to bring in new EasyAccess customers in Europe and - with our resellers - Asia and South America. With IX-as-a-Service, we will focus on Middle East and Asia. Our provisioning service team will support parties without peering experience and we will better position ourselves in the enterprise market and seek to improve our Cloud Interconnect proposition.
We do not necessarily have an interest in innovation for the sake of innovation. Instead, we need to innovate in order to improve the performance of the business or provide new services to our customers.
Over the past 18 years, most innovation at AMS-IX was focused on keeping up with growth and traffic volumes. At present, this is less of a necessity because growth has stabilised. What we can do now, is innovate at service level and try to achieve more-with relatively less people-which will allow us to improve our price performance to existing and future customers. Diversify our product and remain an efficient organisation; this is very important to us.
In 2017 a new strategy was agreed upon, in close cooperation between our members, management team, employees and board. Keywords in this strategy were ‘adding value’, ‘creating scale and cost efficiency’, ‘new business models’ and ‘cooperate’. 2018 was the first year in which this strategy was executed, under leadership of our new CEO Peter van Burgel, who joined in February.
At the end of 2018, we said farewell to Sylvie LaPerrière after six years of board membership. Working with Sylvie has been an extremely rewarding experience and I would like to thank her for her contributions to AMS-IX, as well as the way in which she managed the board and cooperated with the management team. We continued to rely on the experience of Mark Cooper (who moved to InterXion - Secretary), Eric Loos (BICS - Treasurer) and Alex Bik (BIT) and welcomed new board member Michael Ourabah (BSO Networks). To become more effective in executing our responsibilities, we increased our focus by creating three small board committees: ‘Finance’, ‘Governance and Compliance’ and ‘Compensation’ - each with its own specific scope and annual planning.
In 2018, my second year on the board, I moved from the position of Treasurer to Chair, following the May 2018 General Meeting. I have perceived cooperation within the board, as well as between board and management team, to be very positive.
I’m very confident in the future of AMS-IX. We have a seasoned management team, which is well aligned and cooperates constructively with the Executive Board, we have a talented and enthusiastic pool of employees, a sound strategy and healthy financials – nothing can prevent us from reaching our goals
We focused strongly on compliance and internal processes, triggered by, among other things, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). I mainly deal with external stakeholders, mostly public authorities, informing them on how the Internet works ‘under the hood’ and lobbying to influence agenda setting and avoid detrimental side effects of new laws and regulations on the Internet ecosystem. Several years ago, we helped set up an industry body - Digitale Infrastructuur Nederland – to support these activities.
Connectivity has become an essential service, like electricity. In 2017, we were officially labelled a ‘critical infrastructure’ provider by the Dutch government. We started being officially regulated as an Internet Exchange in 2018 and are working with the regulatory authorities in 2019 to implement the resulting obligations. We have been voicing our concerns about new legislation governing Dutch intelligence agencies since 2015 with other stakeholders and managed to get important elements of the proposed legislation adapted. To date, this has had no noticeable effect on the industry.
Events of 2018 are being translated and implemented. New legislation we need to comply with is relatively generic and lower-level legislation still needs to be agreed upon between regulatory authorities and operators. GPDR policies are in place, but as we are moving to a new ERP system, new procedures and processes will have to be defined, configured and enforced.
In 2018 we focused on improving automation of service provisioning and cleaning up legacy software. In an attempt to optimize our internal processes, we started working on integration with our planned ERP and business support tools. Several incremental improvements were realized, and we’ve been modernizing and streamlining internal software development, testing and integration.
Cooperation with PacketFabric in the USA gradually progressed and provided a foundation for developing our EasyAccess service. With data centre interconnectivity experts DCspine, we launched the first EasyAccess implementation in April, extending our reach in the Netherlands with over 25 data centres. In Q4 we expanded EasyAccess with two additional partnerships to cover several hundred more locations throughout Western Europe.
Traditional IXP business (i.e. public peering) has stabilized and we have clear ideas about where we’d like to go next. Decoupling physical ports from the services on top allows us to leverage our platform to provide innovative, flexible, services. Besides closed user groups, this includes quick point-to-point (private interconnect) provisioning, for example, or a service hub where AMS-IX clients and partners can offer and order each other’s services. A natural evolution that helps AMS-IX to stay relevant in an ever-changing internetworking market which, now more than ever, also includes enterprise customers.