The Internet Society (ISoC) has introduced the African Route-collectors Data Analyser (ARDA) system to present data collected from African Internet Exchange Points IXPs in ways that can be easily extrapolated for other use and to expose hidden opportunities across the continent.
Data collected at African IXPs will be used to leverage business, policy and technical opportunities.
The system has been developed to address the historic challenges in tracking peering and interconnection growth and evolution, between the time the first IXP was established in Johannesburg in 1996 and the present day.
There are currently 37 IXPs in 28 African countries and 28 of them are relatively new, having been established within the past eight years.
Michuki Mwangi, ISoC's Senior Development Manager for Africa, states that ARDA is unique in that it complements other regional measurements tools by "providing visuals that can be easily understood by both technical and non-technical."
"It also provides historical data going back from 2005 to present day. We expect that its value and importance will grow in the days ahead as more IXPs and networks collaborate to improve the available data. It is for this reason that we are closing with our partners PCH and AF-IX to have the missing IXPs included on ARDA and more networks participating at their respective IXP in the coming days."
An invitation to review the ARDA 1.0 tool was issued last month. It is directed primarily at IXPs and networks that connect to IXPs to review the information on ARDA as it directly relates to them and offer suggestions to improve, fix or resolve any inconsistent data.
Giving a practical example of how data collected from the system would be made beneficial to Africa in an instance, Mwangi cites the case of a large global content distribution network (CDN) that is considering making an entry into the continent and is looking for information on where to build its initial points of presence (PoPs).
"ARDA will reduce the time taken for them to make a decision by enabling them to identify the locations that have IXPs with a broad reach. The value of global CDNs building into the African region results in more global content being locally accessible. This results in improved user experience and reduced costs of access. The lack of such data prolongs the period it takes for such global networks to make strategic decisions on where to build in the region."
ARDA will use publicly available data to analyse known active networks in Africa, how they interconnect and at which points they do so.
This information is presented on a freely accessible website, eliminating the need to invest in resources to process huge repositories of raw data to obtain the same information.