Q&A: Franck Simon, MD, France-IX

Franck Simon, managing director of France-IX, shares his ambitions for the internet exchange point’s network expansion in Marseille and its recently launched marketplace platform

What have been France-IX’s key developments in the past year?

The expansion of our network in Marseille – the opening of our second PoP – has been a key development. We currently interconnect over 20 networks through our first PoP in Marseille. The community consists mainly of French, Middle Eastern and African operators. More importantly, Marseille presents a huge potential with the expected launch of the SEA-ME-WE 5 and the AAE-1 cables at the end of the year, which will enable new networks to connect easily to the city.

With the opening of our second Marseille site, operators will be able to connect not just to Paris but also to Marseille. It provides an alternative for members that are already connected through our first PoP, and also contributes to the provision of higher resiliency. We have upgraded all our equipment in Marseille to ensure that there’ll be the required amount of additional capacity to peer and such equipment renewal also allows us to provide 100Gbps ports for our members.

This development is significant, as Marseille – as an internet exchange point – has been really growing for a whole year now. It featured in the top five of our PoPs last year and recently it entered the top four. As an internet exchange point, we expect Marseille to be one of the top two by the end of the year. 

In addition, this year has seen the launch our France-IX Marketplace, which enables peering members to buy services over the IXP platform. Buying services in this way means they can be provisioned quickly and easily over private circuits and our members benefit from speed, simplicity and cost efficiency. An anti DDoS solution, IP transit and VPN services are the first services available through the Marketplace and more will be available soon.

Why has Marseille emerged as a key IXP?

The reason is that operators connecting to Marseille are directly taking one or multiple 10Gbps ports, without first going through 1Gbps or 2Gbps. With the exception of two networks, we have no operator taking less than 10Gbps in Marseille. We have already connected many significant CDNs in Marseille, as well as African operators and French ISPs – these are networks that focus on provision of internet access to end-users and so generate the demand that the CDNs or gaming content delivery networks need. We also expect to connect Middle Eastern operators, especially when the gaming community is ready there. This is already taking place in Paris, not yet in Marseille.

What other opportunities do you see in Marseille for France-IX? 

We are now working with operators to offer bundle packages to peer in both Paris and Marseille. We have a huge mass of networks in Paris but less so in Marseille. We want to ensure that when Middle Eastern operators connect to Marseille, not only are they able to see the networks physically connected in Marseille but can also reach the networks in Paris. That will definitely increase Marseille’s value.

We need to continue our partnerships with operators. We want to avoid doing it on our own, even if it’s technically feasible for us to provide bandwidth between Paris and Marseille. It’s the job of operators to do that. We are finalising leads with operators and resellers to make sure that they will be able to provide bundles. For instance, if you’re connected to Marseille, you’ll be able to peer with Paris. This will make it easier and cheaper for networks to stop in Marseille. This bundle package, combined with the Marseille Marketplace, will make it easier and cheaper for networks to stop in Marseille and get everything they need there, both for peering as well as for any other services they’d like to buy.

What are you hoping to get out of ITW 2016? 

ITW is a significant event where networks from all over the world gather. For us, it’s a great opportunity to meet international networks that we would like to connect to France-IX. This is why, for ITW 2016, we are focussing specifically on the development of Marseille and we will offer special conditions for any new membership signed for Marseille during the event.

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