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LINX Partnership with Nokia for LINX Nairobi in Africa

Interview with LINX Enterprise Architect, Mariano Juliá

This blog explores LINX’s partnership with Nokia for the soon to be operational Kenyan Internet exchange, LINX Nairobi, in Africa.

Nokia first began working with LINX when integrating 400GE ports onto the LON1 network in London nearly three years ago. Please explain how this relationship developed, and what the future plans are.

We started working with Nokia by looking at ways of bringing higher density of 100GE ports to our routers in LON1. This initiative has resulted in an increase of capacity in our data centres in Slough. Throughout 2022, we have worked with Nokia to bring the technical features required to run an IXP using their range of data centre switches. The 7220 data centre switches from Nokia will be used to power LINX Nairobi.

There has also been an intense cooperation on the software side with the programming of NAPALM drivers for SROS and SR Linux. NAPALM is used to drive network automation at LINX and it’s a critical component of all the self-service operations in our portal. LINX is also using gNIMc as our telemetry collection agent and Containerlab as the foundation for all our network testing automation. Two open-source solutions created by Nokia engineers.

Please explain why Nokia is the right partner for LINX in Kenya. What is it about their infrastructure and software solutions that made them stand out?

When entering a new market, for LINX it’s not only important that we have the right technical solution, it is key also that we partner with the right company that can deliver solutions in that market. From the very beginning Nokia has been working to get their equipment certified by the Communications Authority of Kenya, making sure that it complies with Kenyan regulations. Logistically they have also helped us with importing into the country and operationally they will be supporting us with software and hardware replacement to the same standards that we get anywhere else in the world.

1GE to 100GE port capacity will be available at LINX Nairobi from day one. What else can you tell us about the technical spec for the exchange?

LINX Nairobi will be a 100GE capable IXP from the start so that members can benefit from seamless connectivity. We are planning enough capacity to fulfil the requirements of members from day one and ensure that we have a scalable design that allows us to grow steadily as the demand increases.

Will African networks have access to the same services at LINX Nairobi as those in the UK and LINX’s other international exchanges? Are there any plans to scale up to 400GE?

One key aspect of the design of LINX Nairobi is that we will be using the same technologies we use everywhere else so that our members can expect the same service offering as with any of our other IXPs. From the start of 2023, we will be testing a 400GE capable switch that we would be able to deploy from the second half of the year, should there be a demand for it.

For further information on this topic please email hello@linx.net.

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