Unlocking a new digital era in interconnection and cloud strategy
Ivo A. Ivanov is Chief Operating Officer of the DE-CIX Group AG and also - as Chief Executive Officer of DE-CIX International - responsible for the global business activities of the Internet Exchange Operator.
Q. This year, DE-CIX is celebrating its 25th anniversary. How did the journey for DE-CIX start in the UAE?
Around 2008, there was no local interconnection taking place in the Middle East. The request for content went back and forth from the Gulf region to Europe and back. This became challenging from a latency and network performance standpoint. DE-CIX was asked by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of UAE to participate in a project to create a digital hub in the Middle East. After thorough analysis of interconnection ecosystems in Europe and US, we came up with a recommendation and created a new interconnection platform in the Middle East. This was the beginning of UAE-IX powered by DE-CIX in Dubai. DE-CIX has been operating UAE-IX since 2012. The UAE-IX was our first project outside Germany, and it proved to be a big success. We have a thriving IX in Dubai that ‘keeps the local traffic local’. This experience gave us the ingredients to be successful in creating interconnection ecosystems outside of Germany. Besides extending our business to other markets in opening IXs that are completely run by us, DE-CIX has taken its “Apollon-as-a-Service (AaaS)” program to the next level. The DE-CIX AaaS program includes a range of services, such as the provision and installation of the technology, maintenance, and support for marketing and sales. Further examples of the DE-CIX AaaS program - besides the UAE-IX - is the SEECIX powered by DE-CIX in Athens and the Ruhr-CIX powered by DE-CIX, which was recently announced.
Q. How is COVID-19 influencing the future of the Internet across the globe?
We believe that the pandemic will initiate the beginning of a new era in the development of ‘Digital Everywhere’. This era will continuously demand further innovation and DE-CIX is prepared for this innovation with great ideas of serving the market, which is expected to grow dramatically in the next decade or so. Today only 10% of all registered networks globally use direct interconnections services. We see a huge potential for other networks to participate in interconnection services delivered via a neutral platform, which is not only data-center neutral but also technology-platform and hardware-vendor neutral. Digital infrastructure will get more visible to new target groups and new markets. In terms of new markets, I mean not just geographically new markets, but also offering our services to broader expanded reach in different regions or so-called “edge interconnection” where technologies like 5G serving the interconnection and digitization needs of IoT traffic will be needed, and we are working in this direction.
Q. What will the future of Interconnection look like?
Interconnection as a service will follow multi-service approach in order to cover the demand of the market of the ‘Digital Everywhere’ era. On one interconnection platform, customers will be able to take advantage of multiple service offerings. Different types of organizations will be more involved in controlling their network, traffic flows and security and quality of their network. This is from a services standpoint. Geography wise, we will need to have interconnection almost everywhere to cover the demand. From the highways, crossroads to the biggest interconnection nodes we have today; new hubs will appear on the planet along the subsea cable landing stations. We will have more smart solutions in automatization and software. As of today, DE CIX offers this already with our portal solution, with our API, and we also have robots working with us. They will become more important in the future. Automatization, smart software-driven solutions and a variety of interconnection services close to the needs of customers will support the ‘Digital Everywhere’ future.
Q. How do you see the future of cloud services from an interconnection perspective?
Cloud is an integral part of almost every network strategy. Beyond Cloud, we see a huge demand for further interconnection services. DE-CIX is preparing for these services, which will deliver along the market demand. These are the next level of interconnection services for the enterprises beyond the Cloud services. We call these ‘Federation Services’ for different types of industries such as finance, healthcare, automotive, and for the educational and public sector. Digitization is everywhere and what we have understood over the past couple of months, because of the Covid-19 crisis, is not only the importance of digital services and applications, but also the importance of digital infrastructure. It is the underlying digital infrastructure that keeps our private lives and business lives operational.