Head of Product
June 18, 2020
In the last couple of weeks, I received a lot of COVID-19-related messages from members and customers. In this short blog, I will talk about the effect of the worldwide containment measures on the AMS-IX interconnection platform and how these measures impacted our daily operations.
First and foremost, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a big effect on the digital behaviour of people. Governments all over the world have taken strict measures and forced their own populations to stay indoors and work from home. And as a result, people are using the internet way more than before. For many companies, this means they have to deal with a lot more traffic. Video Conferencing companies connected to AMS-IX Amsterdam exchanged eight times more traffic over our platform in March. And streaming companies saw a traffic increase of 40% in March (compared to February).
Although a lot of countries are currently lifting their lockdown measures, there is reason to believe that the amount of internet traffic will not simply go back to how it was pre-Corona times. The COVID-19 crisis most surely accelerated some of the digital transformation processes in society, like working from home, digital shopping and virtual education. Moreover, chance of the virus coming back will be a looming threat for the foreseeable future. This means that a lot of measures will stay in place, even after the end of the pandemic.
For the peering community, this means that a lot of companies have to analyse and re-evaluate their connectivity if they want to keep offering great user experiences to their end-users and customers. They can’t rely on just one or two upstreams for all their internet traffic. More connections are needed for a greater resilience. And port upgrades are necessary in places where more traffic is expected.
Internet exchanges like AMS-IX are built to connect internet service providers and its users with companies (CDNs, software-as-a-service providers, cloud providers, etc.) who host the content and applications that are used by the users. Now that everyone is working from home and is using their home internet service provider for work related activities, the original use case for Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) are more relevant than ever.
So, how much did the pandemic influence AMS-IX daily operations?
From a customer perspective, not much has changed. All the work of our Network Operations Centre (NOC), sales and service departments can be done remotely, so their work was hardly affected. However, the way we connect with the rest of the internet community has changed. Instead of meeting people face-to-face (large gatherings and events being prohibited), we are attending industry events, like ITW, EPF or LACNIC, virtually.
The work of our field engineers is somewhat impacted due to changed access policies of the various Data Centres where our equipment is housed. In general, field engineers are the only ones allowed to access the sites and they can only access them if they have to work on equipment (i.e. not to give a Data Centre tour to students or journalists for example). A few Data Centres have implemented compulsory registration before any visit. That way, they can avoid that the site becomes too crowded. They make exceptions when there is an emergency though, like an outage.
Since AMS-IX is recognised as vital infrastructure by the Dutch government, our field engineers have a special status. They are allowed access to our equipment at any time and have priority for technical suppliers. A few Data Centres in Amsterdam say that there might be some delays for ordering cross-connects, but in practice we have not experienced any delay. A cross-connect can be up and running in about three working days.