Report available! Establishment of a Carrier Neutral Software-Defined IXP

The project led by Zartash Afzal Uzmi, from the SBA School of Science and Engineering at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) finalized their project and submitted their technical report.

Internet exchange points (IXP) are a critical piece of the Internet infrastructure that enable ISP networks to exchange traffic with each other. The Internet has more than 300 IXPs worldwide. IXPs offer a number of benefits including cost savings, better performance, and security. Traditional IXPs do not leverage the modern networking evolution offered by Software-Defined Networking (SDN).

This project aims to develop and deploy a Software-Defined IXP (SDX), using recent advances in SDN to allow operators to enable novel applications such as application-specific peering, traffic redirection through middleboxes, and inbound traffic engineering. We have already created a working prototype of SDX, comprising a route server (Quagga Application), Two (2) ISPs (2 PCs with Quagga BGP configurations), Aruba Openflow switch and Ryu Controller. Two novel peering applications have also been implemented on this SDN-based IXP.

To support the management and configuration of novel peering applications, we have developed a new package to SDN-enable the “IXP Manager” which is a web-based peering portal used by 79 traditional, non-SDN based, IXPs worldwide. Our package integrates with an open-source version of a traditional IXP Manager and allows configuring SDN-based applications through the peering web portal. This retrofitted IXP Manager will not only be useful for upcoming SDN-based IXPs, particularly in developing countries, but will also be useful for the existing IXPs worldwide as they introduce SDN capabilities within their infrastructure.

While the development work of the project has been completed, we will continue exploring avenues for large-scale deployment. As a first step in this direction, this project centered on Pakistan IXP; a future goal will be to use it as a testbed for full-scale deployment, testing, and evaluation. We will also continue to carry out training programs to prepare additional human resource in managing IXPs as well as in using SDN controllers. An additional future direction stemming from this project is to build a sustainable basis of discussion, collaboration, and training programs between least developed countries around SDN, IXPs, and other emerging technologies.

The establishment of an SDN-based IXP stands to bring down operating costs of IXPs via automatic configuration management and dynamic policy assignment. The SDN-based IXP platform developed in this project will also uncover the empirical data highlighting the benefits of IXP, particularly in the developing world, by measuring the inter-ISP traffic volumes. We further aim (as a future goal) to study the traffic types to estimate the growth in content hosted locally, or moved over from international to local hosting. Our project will eventually be useful for persuading popular large-volume publishers (Facebook, Netflix, YouTube, etc.) and content distribution networks (CDNs) to establish their local presence within the country and peer at the IXPs in Pakistan. This project will further allow the Pakistan IXP team to right size the future IXPs (in Karachi and Lahore) and scale the one in Islamabad. The knowledge of “where” the traffic is destined and downloaded from “outside the country” will motivate additional local and international cloud service providers to get interested in hosting their platforms within the region.

The report is publicly available.

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Sylvia Cadena - ISIF Asia secretariat

After ten years managing the Information Society Innovation Fund (ISIF) at APNIC, Sylvia was appointed Head of Programs at the APNIC Foundation in December 2016. As Head of Programs, Sylvia works on the management, design and implementation of collaborative programs to expand APNIC’s capacity building efforts and its overall Development Program. At ISIF Asia, Sylvia continues to lead a grants and awards program that seeks to empower communities in the Asia Pacific to research, design and implement Internet-based solutions for their own needs. One of the region’s most established Internet development programs, ISIF places particular emphasis on the positive role the Internet has on social and economic development in the Asia Pacific. Sylvia also leads APNIC’s engagement with the Seed Alliance, a global collaboration with the African (AFRINIC) and South American (LACNIC) Internet registries. Together with its funding partners, and various regional sponsors, the Seed Alliance supports innovative Internet development across the global south. She is also a member of the ICANN CCWG on new gTLD auction proceeds and co-chair of the APrIGF. Throughout her career, Sylvia has focused on the strategic use of the Internet for development with an emphasis on capacity building. Since her early years as a UN Volunteer, she has worked across the multi-stakeholder spectrum of organizations with technical and advisory roles, mainly about information systems, access provision and innovation. In July 2003, her work was recognized with the "Annual Award for Young Professionals" by the International Development Research Center (IDRC).