Data Center POST interview with Ed d’Agostino, Vice President and General Manager, DE-CIX North America
By Contributing Editor Ilissa Miller
Ed d’Agostino is Vice President and General Manager of DE-CIX North America, the world’s leading Internet Exchange (IX) operator with the largest and fastest-growing IX in New York. Just 18 months after joining DE-CIX in 2014, Ed was leading the team in garnering global attention and awards, including Best North American Project in 2014 and Best Internet Exchange in 2015, and signing on a multitude of new clients. Prior to DE-CIX, Ed served as the Director of Sales and IP Exchange Services for PTGi’s Layer 2 IP exchange platform, where he skillfully led all sales activity across North America, Europe and Asia for eight years.
DE-CIX New York, the largest Carrier and Data Center-Neutral Internet Exchange in New York, celebrated its five year anniversary in May, and Data Center POST sat down to chat with Ed about how the exchange has grown, DE-CIX’s recipe for success and what’s on the horizon for the company.
Data Center POST, Ilissa Miller (DCP-IM) Question: Can you tell our readers what problems DE-CIX North America is attempting to solve right now?
DE-CIX, Ed d’Agostino (DC-ED) Answer: As the world’s leading Internet Exchange (IX) operator, our ultimate goal is to provide seamless, neutral interconnection between networks in a way that diverges from the historic, data center-based business model. Instead of having companies rely on colocation, which needs expensive remote equipment and cross-connects, we’ve built neutral interconnection platforms to simplify and cut costs. Not only is there an opportunity for businesses to peer with us from within the metro markets we have a presence in, but we welcome companies coming in to us over transport as well. This allows us to achieve another goal of ours, which is to provision underserved markets with readily available connectivity. All our customers can peer with the same content owners on our layer 2, SLA-backed connectivity with one-hop, low-latency and competitive routes that even outperform tier 1s.
DCP-IM Q: Looking back at your five years of operation, what accomplishments are you most proud of?
DC-ED A: Admittedly, when we first stepped into New York, we heard a lot of criticism stating that we would be fracturing and damaging the market. However, as we’ve grown to become the first exchange to exceed 200 network connections, it was really great to see that our three major competitors in the market grew as well. DE-CIX is proud to know that we have come into New York and boosted the market and the peering community as a whole. We’ve put that early criticism to bed and experienced great growth and success at the same time, which has been fantastic.
DCP-IM Q: Why do you think it took DE-CIX launching in the market to help drive the awareness and attention of peering and to get new type of networks onto the platform?
DC-ED A: I think that awareness was the result of a few factors. To start, neutrality helps a lot. Being neutral in our approach to providing interconnection platforms allowed us to develop partners and go into data centers throughout the market without competing with the services they offered. We were a very welcoming partner. If a data center wanted diversity and redundancy, we were the partner they came to. Neutrality played a big part in that success.
Our business plan also factors in here. As a for-profit company owned by a nonprofit, we have a unique incentive to grow the market. So, we spent time and money to market and travel and make the effort to grow this community. Plus, we came in with a single-market focus to drive success in New York, which really helped us do well. That’s the combination of factors that I think contributed to our momentum and the attention for peering.
DCP-IM Q: What are the key benefits of peering? Why should businesses consider peering as an option for their network?
DC-ED A: There are all sorts of networks. There are enterprise networks, content networks and inbound networks, and each one can derive different types of benefits. One of the easiest use cases to use is an inbound network peering with a content network. Not only is that inbound network seeing lower latency, diversity and general improvement, but they also see performance that is on par with or better than a Tier 1. So, if you are a small regional network, it helps you outperform a Tier 1 and lower your costs at the same time. To me, that’s one of the simplest ways to showcase the benefits.
At the same time, content networks get better performance to the end user, and even with enterprise networks we’ve seen peering as somewhat of a replacement for cloud access. We provide layer 2, low latency, one hop, SLA-backed connections to these cloud numbers with standard peering. Diversity from transit is often what enterprise networks want in cloud access. Peering works for the individual network, and there’s a ton of benefits depending on how a business networks.
DCP-IM Q: What else are you looking forward to accomplishing with DE-CIX North America?
DC-ED A: We now offer over 200 networks and passed that threshold in the last year, so I think the easy answer is hitting the big mark of 300. I believe there’s only one 300-network exchange in the U.S., so we want to be the second. Beyond that, we’re looking to grow and serve a greater part of the New York market.
We’re also expanding our services. We recently launched our paid peering service to a major U.S. cable network, which has never been offered before in this way. Now, anyone in any of the data centers we are in can take a port with us and connect to this high-quality cable network on a paid basis to improve their own network quality with no additional cross connect fees and no contract. We’ve also added our GlobePEER Remote service to enable people to connect to us in New York and peer globally in Frankfurt and beyond. The same service expansion will be true for our Dallas IX as well. Ultimately, we’re looking forward to growing in a variety of ways with new partners, new services and new access points for customers.
DCP-IM Q: What surprised you most from the earlier days? What did it take to get you where you are?
DC-ED A: We went live in May of 2014, and when I started on April 1 we had no live or signed customers. Yes, we had commitments for some, but clearly it was a long stretch to add critical mass. I think the most interesting or unexpected aspect of the early days was the need to be accepted within the community and to be looked at not as someone who is a sales hustler, but as someone who is a part of developing a business that will benefit the entire community. The bigger the exchange, the more value to the entire community. If you’re developing a market, they have to know you’re going to be there and that it’s not a short term effort. It all worked out, but it was kind of an initial challenge that was unexpected.
DCP-IM Q: Sounds like DE-CIX North America has been doing a great job at putting in that effort and hitting the ground running. It’s been great to watch the company grow, and we can’t wait to see what the next five years bring! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions, Ed. To learn more about DE-CIX, please visit www.de-cix.net.