Conversations with Experts™A Metanoia, Inc. Signature Series!

Architectures of Data Centers/Exchange Points;
With Bill Norton, Founder, & Co-Founder Equinix (EQIX)

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With the explosive growth in public and private cloud services, the need to classify, define, and understand data center architectures is acute! Indeed, the industry today is being pushed to develop techniques to efficiently construct and inter-connect data centers. There is work to classify, define, and enhance both the intra-data center and the inter-data center architectures, the corresponding interconnect technologies, and best-practices

Likewise, peering (the business relationship whereby ISPs reciprocally provide connectivity to each other’s customers) defines how the core of the Internet is interconnected. And, Internet Peering remains a key way for ISPs , Content Distribution Networks, and even large-scale content providers to improve operational efficiency, by decreasing reliance on purchased Internet transit, and connecting directly instead. Internet Peering Exchanges are one way for these entities to peer, which are co-located facilities where a number of players have terminations, allowing for efficient traffic exchange with multiple peers. The architectures of Internet Peering Exchanges also follow the same core principles as those of data centers.

To delve into some of these issues, we invited Bill Norton, a world-renowned expert on peering and interconnection, to participate an episode of our signature series “Conversations with Experts”, and share with the community, his insights into some key aspects of data center and exchange point architectures.

Architectures of Data Centers/Exchange Points;
  Bill Norton, Founder, in Conversation with
  Vishal Sharma, Principal Technologist, Metanoia-Inc.


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In this Conversations with Experts episode, we focus on three key aspects of Data Center/Exchange Point design and value. Bill first provides, in his own words, insights into his foundational role at Equinix (a $4.1B Internet Peering Exchange and Co-location Provider) and the early days of his peering work and its evolution.

Thereafter, we zoom-in on the architectures of modern data centers/exchange points , and discuss what key capabilities characterize a sound data center architecture. This leads to a discussion of some interesting differences between European and US exchange points highlighting critical business differences in how data center and co-location is handled in different regions. Finally, we talk with Bill about how the value of Internet Exchange can be quantified, and understand some of the key criteria for doing so.

For a fascinating collection of writings on Internet peering and exchange point and DC issues, please visit Bill’s DrPeering website at, and feel free to check out his new book “The Internet Peering Playbook: Peering @ the Core of the here.


William B. Norton is an internationally recognized expert on Internet Peering, and is currently the Executive Director of Dr., a leading Internet Peering portal and consultancy. Bill has over 20 years of experience working in the networking and Internet communities, and currently focuses his attention on sharing over a decade plus of Internet and peering knowledge with the community.

From 1998-2008, Bill had the distinction of being Co-Founder for Equinix, a leading Internet Peering Exchange and co-location provider. From startup to IPO in 2008 (when Equinix was valued at $3.6B), Bill spent a majority of his time working closely with the peering coordinator community, building a critical mass of carriers, ISPs, and content providers that recognized the core value that Internet Peering provided. Bill helped establish the relationships necessary to attract the set of Tier 1 ISPs, Tier2 ISPs, cable companies, and content providers, necessary for a healthy Internet Exchange Point eco-system.

An established thought leader, Bill developed the first business plan for NANOG (the North American Network Operator’s Group), Chaired NANOG from May 1995 to June 1998, and was elected to its first Steering Committee.

Bill received a degree in Computer Science from the State University of New York, Potsdam in 1986, and his MBA from the Michigan Business School in 1998.


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