Since its foundation in 1996, the Vienna Internet eXchange has been continuously expanded and developed by the Vienna University Computer Center (ZID). The milestones of this long history can be found here.
More Ports, More Bandwidth
Less than a year after the platform change, the new VIX infrastructure was able to demonstrate its improved expandability for the first time:
The core switches at the location VIX2 (Interxion) were replaced with more powerful models during ongoing operations at the end of March 2022. This doubled the number of available 100 Gbps ports for participant connections.
At the hitherto smallest but constantly growing location VIX3 (NTT), the bandwidth of the cross-connections to VIX1 and VIX2 was doubled in mid-May 2022. The intersite capacity between the three VIX locations is now a uniform 400 Gbps.
Platform Renewal with Pizza Service
After nearly eight years of operation, the hardware infrastructure of the VIX has been completely replaced in May 2021. The previously used chassis-based devices with line cards gave way to fixed-configuration switches of one rack unit each (aka "pizza boxes"). With the new switches from the Arista 7280 series, the overall capacity of the VIX increases significantly.
The new design also simplifies future upgrades: Components can now be added easily without any adverse impact for existing participant ports. Furthermore, Infinera's new WDM components increase the capacity of the cross-connections between the three VIX locations from 160 Gbps to up to 9.6 Tbps.
The entire transition went smoothly during ongoing operations with only 2-10 minutes of downtime per participant port. We are also very pleased that our peering infrastructure’s energy consumption fell to around one third with the new hardware.
VIX Traffic Exceeds 1 Tbps
In the last few weeks of operation, the previous VIX platform still set a new record: On 27 April 2021, total VIX traffic exceeded the "magic threshold" of 1 terabit per second (5-minute average) for the first time.
VIX and COVID-19
The corona pandemic was also noticeable at VIX: On one hand, the VIX team worked from home from mid-March until the end of the year (and beyond), which meant longer lead times for some on-site activities. On the other hand, it could be observed that the traffic volume at VIX increased significantly at the beginning of the first lockdown in March, but dropped back to the usual level over time.
This was probably mainly due to the fact that initially not only Internet traffic suddenly increased, but also the traffic distribution (who communicates with whom, but also the temporal distribution throughout the day) changed seriously. Somewhat later, various capacity adjustments and optimization measures by VIX participants apparently ensured a return to "normality".
NIS Regulation Enters Into Force
In the context of the national implementation of the EU-wide "Network Information Security" (NIS) Directive, VIX was defined as an "essential service" in July 2019. Among other things, this required complete documentation of all security-related processes at VIX. Beyond this, additional measures were taken to standardize and optimize existing processes. The adaptation of VIX's Information Security Management was based on the ISO 27001 standard in order to facilitate future certification.
Increasing Traffic Volume
In the first half of 2019, the daily peaks of data traffic on VIX averaged about 600 Gbps. This placed the Vienna Internet eXchange in the midfield of European exchange points. A new traffic maximum on VIX - over 770 Gbps - occured on 12 March 2019.
Doubling of Intersite Capacity
In order to have sufficient reserves even for exceptional network situations, the bandwidth of the cross-connection between VIX1 (University of Vienna) and VIX2 (Interxion) was extended to 2 x 160 Gbps at the end of March 2017.
New Traffic Record
On 13 December 2016, traffic on VIX exceeded the 500 Gbps mark for the first time. The VIX team celebrated the historic event with a cake, freshly baked and decorated in accordance with the occasion by team member Erwin Rennert.
Third Location at e-shelter
At the beginning of October 2015, the third VIX site in e-shelter's (from June 2020: NTT's) data center in the 10th district was put into operation. Since then, in addition to the University of Vienna in the city centre and Interxion in the north of Vienna, there has been another option to connect to VIX in the south of the city. VIX3 is connected to VIX1 and VIX2 via path redundant fiber optic links.
The first contracts between VIX and resellers were concluded in autumn 2015. The new reseller program offered several advantages for potential VIX participants: They no longer had to connect their routers on-site (or via self-organized carrier links) in Vienna, but could leave all formalities and technical measures to their reseller. Furthermore, resellers usually provided low connection bandwidths as well (directly at VIX, the minimum was 2.5 Gbps in 2015).
Need for Speed
Akamai International B.V. commissioned the first 100 Gbps participant port on VIX in April 2015. The first 100 Gbps link aggregation followed later that year: From November 2015, A1 Telekom Austria AG was connected to VIX1 and VIX2 at 200 Gbps each.
New Hardware Platform
The existing RX platform by Foundry Networks (from 2008: Brocade) was replaced in summer 2013 by the successor series MLXe, which also supported 100 Gbps connections. A chassis with 32 slots was installed at both VIX locations, and an additional 8-slot chassis at Interxion for terminating the slower connections (up to 1 Gbps). In the course of this, the WDM technology used was also renewed: Instead of CWDM, DWDM was now used, along with a doubling of the available channels from 8 to 16. This meant a possible bandwidth of 2 x 160 Gbps for the cross-connection between the two VIX sites. In practice, it was initially extended to 2 x 80 Gbps.
Together with the Prague-based NIX.CZ (Neutral Internet eXchange), VIX organized the first CEE Peering Day in May 2013. This international conference for Internet Service Providers - primarily from the Central and Eastern Europe region - has since been held every spring in changing cities and enjoys great popularity.
New VIX Carrier Room in the NIG
The room in the NIG ("Neues Institutsgebäude" of the University of Vienna) occupied by VIX in 1999 was bursting at the seams again. Therefore, in January 2011, all equipment was moved into a newly adapted "VIX Carrier Room" in the same building, which offered significantly more space and a completely new power supply and cooling infrastructure. A 24/7 access system enabled VIX1 housing customers for the first time to access their equipment in the NIG around the clock and even unaccompanied by VIX employees.
Switching to WDM
Also in January 2011, the "Passive WDM" technology (WDM = Wavelength Division Multiplexing) is implemented at VIX. This potentially multiplies the bandwidth of the cross-connection between the two VIX sites. Initially, it is extended from 2 x 10 Gbps to 2 x 20 Gbps.
New Route Servers
From spring 2010, VIX participants were able to use two central route servers, which greatly simplified the setting up of peerings. Assuming a correspondingly high participation rate on the route servers, it was now possible in principle to peer with all VIX participants with just two BGP sessions.
New Office Space
In February 2008, the VIX team moved from Vienna University's "Neues Institutsgebäude" (NIG) to a neighboring building (Ebendorferstrasse 10). The VIX equipment and postal address remained in the NIG.
Terabit Switches for the Anniversary
10 years after the founding of the Vienna Internet eXchange, another hardware renewal was necessary, as the devices used could no longer keep pace with the annual doubling of traffic volume at VIX. They were replaced by two Foundry Networks terabit switches with a maximum data throughput of up to 1.6 terabits per second. In addition, the bandwidth of the cross-connection between the two VIX sites was increased to 2 x 10 Gbps. The migration was carried out smoothly, without interrupting the switching service, in cooperation with Interxion and Siemens at the end of March 2006. At the end of 2006, the volume of peering traffic at VIX was in the range of about 1 gigabyte per second, adding up to about 100 terabytes per day.
IPv6 at VIX
In parallel with implementing IPv6-based services for the University of Vienna and within ACOnet, the VIX team started to offer support for exchanging IPv6-encoded data packets between interested ISPs. In order to prevent interference with the regular IPv4-based traffic, the IPv6-related connections were initially handled on a dedicated VLAN, which was later abandoned when IPv6 technology became more stable. Since the beginning of 2005, IPv4 and IPv6 have been equally available to VIX participants for their peerings.
Second Location at Interxion
In 2001, the number of VIX participants had grown to 70, including some well-known internationally active ISPs such as Deutsche Telekom and Cable&Wireless (USA). Due to the limited space available at the University of Vienna and the increasing traffic volume, the Vienna Internet eXchange had to be expanded to a second location and the switching hardware had to be renewed. Interxion, a company operating data centers in many locations throughout Europe and also in Vienna-Floridsdorf (21st district), was able to provide sufficient space. Moreover, Interxion was not competing with ISPs in the field of commercial carrier/telecom or ISP business - the neutrality of VIX was thus preserved. The decision to enter into a partnership agreement with Interxion proved to be the right one, as there has been excellent cooperation right from the start.
New Switches & New Cross-Connection
The construction of the second VIX location required major investments: The Cisco switch was replaced by two new Extreme Networks switches capable of handling 1 Gbps connections. The connection between these two switches at the two VIX sites consisted of two separate pairs of dark fiber which were routed over completely separate physical paths.
Foundation of Euro-IX
In May 2001, the European Internet Exchange Association, or Euro-IX for short, was launched as a common platform for European Internet Exchange Points (IXPs). VIX was one of the founding members. 20 years later, about 70 IXPs were participating in Euro-IX.
A Dedicated Room for VIX
In 1999, the Vienna Internet eXchange was already occupying 5 full racks of equipment in the NIG ("Neues Institutsgebäude" of the University of Vienna) and interconnecting 33 ISPs. At that size various bottlenecks became more and more obvious. Thus, the service was relocated to a dedicated area in the NIG later that year. The new room was properly set up with air conditioning, UPS and 21 racks. On this occasion, the previously used Cisco switch was also upgraded in order to better support Fast Ethernet.
Foundation of VIX
The Vienna Internet eXchange (VIX) was launched in 1996 by the Vienna University Computer Center. It comprised bilateral peering agreements between the first Austrian Internet Service Providers (ISPs): ACOnet, EUnet GmbH, IBM Global Network, VIAnet and APA. This laid the foundation for connecting additional ISPs. The goal was to keep local Internet traffic as local as possible, in order to avoid expensive long-distance traffic routes, increase data throughput and minimize delays.
During the early years of the Internet, it was a common situation - particularly in Europe - to see packets with a source and destination address from within the same city crossing national boundaries twice, or even the Atlantic Ocean. Just because the customers happened to be connected via different ISPs (Internet Service Providers), the packets had to find their way to a common network node and then back again. In order to minimize such detours by exchanging packets locally, so-called Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) were set up over time wherever several independent ISP were active in the same geographical region.