Virtual Internet Exchanges

What is a Virtual Internet Exchange?

Virtual Internet Exchanges are a type of Internet Exchange Point that instead of a physical ethernet connection being the primary method of connectivity, a GRE tunnel or similar technology (for example, local VM hypervisors to forward traffic elsewhere) is used to connect in.

These exchanges are often done as educational/hobby exercises, Normally seen in people networks. There exchanges are fine by all means, however wishes to split the two into separate categories.

Why does draw a difference?

Without a clear definition of what is and is not a virtual internet exchange, it can be hard to easily identify internet exchanges that are practical to physically connect to or have peers that are physically local to the exchange.

There is also typically a desire to have local connections to peers on an exchange all the way through. Rather than peering with networks that will then use the internet and tunnelling protocols to backhaul the traffic (since this often results in worse performance for the end users of those networks)

Mixed exchanges

There are a handful of exchanges that blur the line between virtual (by having the majority of the peers connected via VMs (to tunnel elsewhere) or tunnels) and having physical connections.

Normally the tiebreaker between virtual and not would be if there was any major bandwidth player connected.

Examples of major bandwidth players who often are connected to internet exchanges are: Hurricane Electric Cloudflare Akamai Fastly Limelight Packet Clearing House Facebook Amazon Apple Netflix Google

Last updated: 5th September 2021