Interview with Bijal Sanghani, Secretary General of Euro-IX

By 22nd May 2017 October 25th, 2017 LINX News
HotLINX Editor, Jeremy Orbell, speaks with Bijal Sanghani, Secretary General of Euro-IX, to discuss her role and how the organisation is encouraging stronger links between Internet exchange points worldwide.
First of all please tell us about background in the telecoms industry and career to date.
After gaining a degree in Mathematics and Computing at Middlesex University in the mid-90s I took up a position at DEMON Internet as Hostmaster. After about a year I moved to Level 3 where I was a provisioning engineer before undertaking IP support and network engineering roles at FLAG Telecom and Sohonet respectively. In 2005 I joined Reliance Globalcom, initially as a technical support engineer in operations, and then as a solutions engineer. It was from here I joined Euro-IX as the Head of the Secretariat in 2011. I’ve also been RIPE NCC Working Group Chair since 2004.

How did you come to be involved with Euro-IX?
Prior to being involved with Euro-IX I was working with many Internet exchange points through my day-to-day work. When the position became available it was timely because I was looking for a new challenge so put myself forward and was interviewed for the role by Euro-IX Board members Job Witteman of AMS-IX and John Souter of LINX who then appointed me.

What exactly does your role as Euro-IX Secretariat entail?
Euro-IX is now a membership organisation of over 80 IXPs, not just Europe, but from all around the world. For that reason alone I’m certainly kept busy! One of the key things we’re trying to do is build on the services we have and also grow the membership because the more exchanges we have on board the more experience and knowledge we can share amongst the community. We have a monthly newsletter to keep our members informed of activities and we host two forums a year. In fact we’ve just had one in Barcelona which saw a record 48 IXPs attend, and to get that many together in one room was very special. Euro-IX is also the secretariat for IX-F, which is the Federation of Internet Exchange Points, which comprises of representatives from four global IXP Associations. In addition to Euro-IX these are APIX (Asia Pacific Internet Exchange Association), LAC-IX (Latin America & Caribbean Internet Exchange Association) and AfIX (African Internet Exchange Association). Each one has its own administrator to provide administrative support within the defined work areas of the Federation and I carry out that role on behalf of Euro-IX. Working together helps feed another key project which is our IXP database that now forms an important part of our new website. Some of the tools we have are an IXP Directory, an IXP Service Matrix and Peering Matrix as well as an ASN Database.

You mention that Euro-IX is not just about European exchanges. I understand that JPNAP from Japan were one of the first join.
Yes, that’s right. We actually have three IXP members from Japan now and one from Brazil who were also early non-European members. To have members from these countries and other international territories prepared to travel such distances to attend the forum in person certainly demonstrates the value they are getting from these events.

Peering forums have been taking place for more than a decade now and that is another form of IXP collaboration. What do you think about these particular events?
I think they are great because they bring together the wider Internet community and make it easier for interconnection to happen. We always talk about peering being done over a handshake and these kind of events that promote that. There are so many now however but that just proves how successful they have been for the industry. There are now over 500 Internet exchange points in the world with more and more new ones being built in cities and countries which haven’t had an exchange before. Euro-IX, in fact, has a fellowship programme where established IXPs are mentoring these fledgling exchanges. For example, LINX is a mentor ZIXP, the Zambian Internet Exchange. In Barcelona we had guest IXPs from Costa Rica, Ecuador, Pakistan, Kenya and the Republic of Congo. The benefit for them is that they are not only able to learn, but they can take back that knowledge and experience to their regions and IXP associations. This also helps them improve their own events and meetings as well.

What plans do Euro-IX have in the immediate future?
This summer we are looking to organise a series of workshops and hackathons which is part of a goal to bring our members together outside the main forums. The aim is to collectively solve common technical issues that exchanges may be facing. We’re looking at the BIRD route server as one such workshop to identify additional features we can use and developments to looking glass facilities. All the relevant details will be announced on our website in due course at www.euro-ix.net.