When IX Reach in the UK offered free 100Mb connections into France-IX’s exchange in Paris in February, France-IX expected a small response. But more than 15 companies in two weeks accepted the offer and opened up in the French hub, highlighting the cross-channel demand that is now entering the market.
DatacenterDynamics.com - Stephen Wilcox, founder and CTO of IX Reach, said such demand for an internet exchange was almost unheard of.
The attraction maybe obvious, with the IX Reach offer being a "no obligation" deal. And it seemed to pay off - at least for France-IX, which currently had a clear agenda to get more international traffic stopping off in France.
The managing director of the non-profit France-IX, Franck Simon, made no qualms about the end goal when I spoke to him recently that since launching as a new breed of neutral point in 2010,. He said the exchange, which operates out of Telehouse and Interexion data centers in Paris and the Iliad Datacenter 2 in Ile-de-France and now out Marseille, form the SFR Netcenter, wants to make France the center of the world - at least in terms of communications - and he wants to do that fast.
"In June 2010 we created this IX point. We only had small exchanges in France before this. Our idea was to aggregate this entire exchange with them - this gave us a strong footprint in the beginning," Simon said. "After only a few months we had a large footprint deployed - we developed eight PoPs (Points of Presence) in Paris, a PoP in Marseille, and managed to become the biggest Internet Exchange France ever made."
"We managed to aggregate other French exchanges into our PoPs and we now have 210 members connected to our exchange, and we are going up to 200Gb of traffic. We are now in the mind set to open new PoPs in Paris or other parts of France."
While most of its footprint so far is in Paris, Simon believes Marseille will be a key component of France-IX's global success. "Marseille is the launch pad for all the submarine cables coming in from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. And while Paris has all the technical data centers, most of the managed operators are actually in Marseille. We are currently growing the number of members and traffic to the area. Today we have existing cables but the players are coming from the Middle East or Africa - these were already using these cables but they never stopped here before. Now we are doing all we can to make sure the traffic stops in Marseille."
Simon is always on the road, meeting with companies in Africa and the Middle East, listening to calls for cheaper connectivity into Europe. Marseille is the closest point to Africa and the Middle East where submarine cables meet and he believes, with most players in these countries more interested in pushing communications out than getting them in, Marseille will become an obvious choice. "Why go outside and cross half of the world - it should be optimized to be as close as possible to the source, and the closet option is Marseille."
Simon believes that in the next few months, France-IX will reach critical mass in Marseille, and could be forced to think about expanding operations in the region.
But the market needs to be educated - that is why the IX Reach promotion was so successful. With 70% of its members currently coming from France, Simon's main challenge seems to be around PR. "We expect the ratio of French to global customers will be 50/50 in a year's time. But we realise that if we want to grow and catch more members, we need visibility. This is also another good aspect of the Marseille PoP - it captures the interest of the Middle East and Africa, and helps put us on a world stage."