What is a Route Server, and Why Should I Care?
The route server peering process is very similar to the Internet Exchange (IX) peering process in that both Route Servers and IXs offer Private Peering between network providers. If you’re not familiar with the term Private Peering, it refers to networks or other entities agreeing to peer with each other without paying either party an interconnection fee. However, the big difference between Route Server Peering and IX Peering lies in how the servers themselves work. Unlike IXs, which physically connect providers together, Route Servers use high-speed Internet to do the job instead.
Private peering refers to agreements between two organizations that enable them to exchange data across private fibre lines instead of using their respective ISP’s backbone. The advantage for companies who engage in private peering (aka peers) is that they can meet their traffic needs without paying for transit. These are known as direct connections, or private interconnect services. Peers can also aggregate traffic from other networks through local exchanges, reducing unnecessary transfer fees, lowering operational costs and bandwidth costs at specific locations. Peering isn’t just about saving money; it also offers firms better security by keeping their data closer to home, so it doesn’t have to travel around town on someone else’s network.
The basic idea of public peering, which anyone can do, is to connect directly with another network’s routers. The idea behind public peering is to build up an interconnection fabric among networks to make it possible for them to reach each other without going through an intermediate service provider. Public peering can be done in two different ways: directly or indirectly. Directly negotiated private interconnections are one-on-one connections between two parties, where they exchange traffic freely.
An Internet Exchange, or IX, is a physical location where ISPs come together to exchange Internet traffic with one another. The goal of an IX can be to create more efficient routing, which means better performance for customers. Often, an IX will have its own route server, allowing participants of that specific IX to communicate efficiently. This kind of communication is known as route server peering. If you have questions about route servers and/or route server peering, please reach out to your ISP directly.
A route server, also known as an exchange point or BGP router, is typically operated by an Internet service provider. These route servers are strategically located to facilitate interconnection between significant networks. A route server uses Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) to keep track of routing information between networks. The purpose of these devices is to reduce traffic loads on routers between ISPs while maintaining secure connections.
As you can see, Route Servers are an integral part of how internet data gets from point A to point B. Although they may be invisible in our everyday internet usage, these servers need to do their job in order for everything to function correctly. As long as businesses continue to use private interconnect services via Route Servers, we should expect quality connections and fast service.