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Interconnection 101: A Complete Guide [What Is, Types, Features, How It Works, Benefits]
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Interconnection 101: A Complete Guide [What Is, Types, Features, How It Works, Benefits]

Interconnection 101: In today’s interconnected world, understanding the concept of interconnection is crucial for businesses navigating their way through the digital landscape. This comprehensive guide delves into the fundamentals of interconnection, exploring its definition, various types, key features, operational mechanisms, and the numerous benefits it offers to organizations of all sizes.

Interconnection 101: A Complete Guide

What is data center interconnection?

The term data center interconnection refers to the process of establishing high-speed and secure connections between multiple data centers to enable seamless data transfer, communication, and collaboration between them. Data center interconnection involves linking separate data centers, often located in different geographic regions, to create a unified and interconnected network infrastructure.

Types of interconnection

There are several types of interconnection that businesses can utilize to establish connectivity and facilitate data transfer. Here are the 6 main ones.

Physical interconnection: This type of interconnection involves the physical connection of hardware components and network infrastructure. It includes the use of cables, switches, routers, and other networking equipment to establish direct connections between devices and data centers.

Virtual interconnection: Virtual interconnection utilizes virtual networking technologies to establish connections between different entities. It involves the use of software-defined networking (SDN) and virtual private networks (VPNs) to create secure and scalable connections over shared or public networks.

Internet exchange (IX): Internet exchanges are physical locations where multiple network service providers (ISPs) connect their networks to exchange internet traffic. IX interconnection allows for direct peering between networks, enabling efficient data exchange and reducing the reliance on third-party transit providers.

Cloud interconnection: Cloud interconnection refers to establishing connections between data centers and cloud service providers. It enables organizations to access and transfer data to and from cloud platforms, allowing for seamless integration and hybrid cloud deployments.

Metro ethernet: Metro Ethernet involves using Ethernet-based connections to interconnect data centers and enterprise locations within a metropolitan area. It provides high-speed and reliable connectivity, making it ideal for businesses with multiple locations close to each other.

Content delivery networks (CDNs): CDNs are interconnected networks of servers distributed across different geographical locations. They store and deliver content to end-users based on their location, reducing latency and improving content delivery performance.

Importance of interconnection

Interconnection plays a crucial role in facilitating seamless data transfer and collaboration between different locations, enabling efficient information sharing. It enhances security by establishing direct and private connections, reducing exposure to cyber threats, and ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of data. Interconnection also aids organizations in meeting compliance requirements by providing secure and controlled data transfer within their interconnected infrastructure.

Interconnection services

Here is a guide to the most popular interconnection services on offer.

Cross-connects: Cross-connects involve the physical connection of networking cables to establish direct links between different entities within a data center or colocation facility. These dedicated connections offer low-latency and high-bandwidth connectivity between servers, network switches, storage devices, and other equipment.

Virtual private network (VPN): VPN services create secure and encrypted connections over public networks, such as the internet. VPNs enable organizations to establish private networks and securely connect remote sites, employees, or partners to access shared resources, applications, and data.

Direct connect/express connect: Direct connect or express connect services are provided by cloud service providers, allowing businesses to establish private and dedicated connections to their cloud platforms. These connections bypass the public internet, providing higher security, lower latency, and more reliable data transfer between on-premises infrastructure and cloud environments.

Internet exchange (IX) services: Internet exchange services enable network service providers, content delivery networks, and enterprises to exchange internet traffic directly. IX services enhance network performance, reduce latency, and improve cost efficiency by facilitating direct peering between networks at physical exchange points.

Managed interconnect: Managed interconnect services are offered by specialized providers who handle the setup, management, and monitoring of interconnections between different infrastructure components. These services ensure reliable connectivity, optimize performance and provide ongoing technical support.

Interconnection hubs: Interconnection hubs are physical locations where multiple network providers, cloud platforms, and enterprises come together to establish direct connections. These hubs offer a centralized ecosystem for interconnecting networks, facilitating fast and efficient data exchange between diverse entities.

Cloud interconnect: Cloud interconnect services enable organizations to establish dedicated and private connections between their on-premises infrastructure and cloud service providers. This allows for secure and efficient data transfer, reduced latency, and improved performance when accessing cloud resources.

Interconnection benefits and advantages

Interconnection offers numerous benefits and advantages for businesses across various industries. Here are 6 key advantages of implementing interconnection.

Enhanced performance: By reducing latency and network congestion, interconnection improves overall performance, ensuring faster data transfer, application responsiveness, and a seamless user experience.

Scalability and flexibility: Interconnection allows for easy and efficient expansion of network capacity, the addition of new services, and the deployment of distributed architectures. 

Improved reliability and resilience: Interconnecting data centers and infrastructure components mitigates the risk of single points of failure. This ensures high availability of critical applications, data, and services, reducing the impact of potential disruptions.

Data transfer and collaboration: Interconnection facilitates seamless and secure data transfer between different locations, enabling efficient collaboration and information sharing. 

Security and compliance: Interconnection can enhance security by enabling direct and private connections between trusted entities. By bypassing public networks, organizations can reduce exposure to potential cyber threats and improve the confidentiality and integrity of data. Additionally, interconnection can help organizations meet compliance requirements by providing secure and controlled data transfer within their interconnected infrastructure.

Cost efficiency: Interconnection can offer cost advantages by optimizing network performance and reducing reliance on expensive dedicated lines or third-party transit providers. Direct connections between data centers, cloud providers, and other entities can minimize data transfer costs, reduce network congestion, and improve overall cost efficiency.

Interconnection vs. traditional networking

Interconnection and traditional networking represent two different approaches to connectivity, each with its own characteristics and advantages. Here’s a comparison between interconnection and traditional networking.


Direct and private: Interconnection involves establishing direct and private connections between various entities, such as data centers, cloud platforms, and networks. This allows for faster and more secure data transfer compared to traditional networking methods that rely on shared public networks.

Reduced latency: Interconnection minimizes latency by eliminating the need for data to traverse multiple network hops. With direct connections, organizations can achieve low-latency and high-bandwidth communication. This is crucial for real-time applications and services.

Scalability and flexibility: Interconnection enables organizations to scale their connectivity quickly and efficiently. They can add new connections, expand capacity, and integrate with cloud services seamlessly, providing the necessary flexibility to adapt to changing business needs.

Enhanced security: Interconnection prioritizes security by establishing private connections and bypassing the public internet. This reduces exposure to potential cyber threats and provides greater control over data privacy and integrity.

Traditional networking

Shared infrastructure: Traditional networking relies on shared infrastructure, such as the internet, where data packets traverse multiple routers and switches. This can introduce higher latency and congestion compared to direct connections in an interconnection model.

Cost efficiency:  Traditional networking can be a cost-effective solution for businesses with simpler networking requirements or budget constraints, as it leverages existing public networks and service providers. By utilizing established infrastructure, organizations can avoid the need for extensive investments in dedicated connections or specialized interconnection services.

Wide reach: Traditional networking typically provides broad reach and connectivity to a wide range of networks and users, including the public internet. This can be advantageous for organizations that require widespread connectivity and access to a diverse user base.

Standard protocols:  Traditional networking relies on widely adopted standard protocols, such as TCP/IP, to facilitate data transmission. These protocols have become the de facto standard in networking and provide compatibility across a diverse range of devices and systems. By adhering to these established protocols, organizations can ensure seamless communication and interoperability within their network infrastructure, enabling efficient data exchange and connectivity across different devices, platforms, and technologies.

It’s important to note that interconnection and traditional networking are not mutually exclusive. Many organizations adopt a hybrid approach, combining the benefits of both models to meet their specific connectivity requirements. 

Interconnection pricing and costs

Interconnection pricing and costs can vary depending on several factors, including the service provider, location, bandwidth requirements, and the specific interconnection services chosen. Here are the six main considerations that influence interconnection pricing and costs.

Cross-connect fees: These fees cover the physical connection between your organization’s infrastructure and the interconnection provider’s facility. Cross-connect fees can vary based on factors like the length of the connection, the type of cabling required, and the provider’s pricing structure.

Bandwidth charges: Interconnection often involves transferring data between different entities, which typically incurs bandwidth charges. The pricing for bandwidth can vary based on the volume of data transferred, the speed of the connection, and whether it is dedicated or shared with other customers. Higher bandwidth requirements or dedicated connections tend to come with higher costs.

Port charges: Interconnection providers may charge port fees, which are associated with the use of network ports to establish the interconnection. These fees are generally recurring charges and can vary based on the port speed and the provider’s pricing model.

Ancillary services: Some interconnection providers offer additional services such as managed security, monitoring, or technical support. These services may incur extra costs but can provide value-added benefits for businesses requiring additional assistance or specialized expertise.

Location: The geographic location of the interconnection facility can impact pricing. Major data center hubs or regions with high demand may have higher costs compared to less densely populated areas. It’s important to consider the location of the interconnection provider and how it aligns with your business requirements and budget.

Contract terms: The pricing and costs associated with interconnection can also depend on the contract terms negotiated with the service provider. Factors such as contract duration, volume commitments, and additional services included in the agreement can influence the overall cost structure.

Interconnection security and data privacy

Interconnection security and data privacy are crucial considerations when establishing and utilizing interconnection services. Here are 7 key points regarding interconnection security and data privacy.

Private and direct connectivity: Interconnection offers private and direct connections between networks, data centers, and cloud providers. By bypassing the public internet, interconnection reduces the exposure to potential security threats, such as unauthorized access or data interception.

Enhanced data protection: Interconnection providers often implement robust security measures to protect data during transmission and storage. These measures can include encryption, secure access controls, and network monitoring to detect and mitigate potential security breaches.

Compliance with regulations: Interconnection providers understand the importance of regulatory compliance and adhere to various data protection and privacy regulations, such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) or HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Choosing a provider that is compliant with relevant regulations ensures that your data remains protected and that you meet your legal obligations.

Physical security: Data centers housing interconnection facilities typically employ stringent physical security measures, including restricted access controls, surveillance systems, and environmental controls, to safeguard the infrastructure and prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Data segregation: Interconnection providers ensure the segregation of data and traffic among their customers, effectively minimizing the chances of data leakage and/or a third party gaining unauthorized access to sensitive information within your organization.

Service level agreements (SLAs): SLAs with interconnection providers often include guarantees for security and data privacy. These agreements outline the level of security measures implemented, data protection protocols, and incident response procedures, providing assurance and accountability.

Data privacy impact assessments: Interconnection providers may conduct data privacy impact assessments to identify potential risks and implement appropriate safeguards. These assessments help ensure that data privacy considerations are addressed throughout the interconnection infrastructure.

Interconnection for cloud computing

Interconnection plays a critical role in facilitating efficient and reliable cloud computing. Here are 6 key aspects of interconnection for cloud computing.

Direct connectivity: Interconnection enables direct and private connections between cloud service providers (CSPs) and businesses. By bypassing the public internet, organizations can establish dedicated and high-performance links to their cloud environments. This direct connectivity minimizes latency, enhances data transfer speeds, and ensures a more consistent and secure cloud experience.

Multi-cloud and hybrid cloud enablement: Interconnection allows businesses to seamlessly connect and integrate multiple cloud environments, including public clouds, private clouds, and on-premises infrastructure. This enables organizations to build multi-cloud or hybrid cloud architectures that leverage the strengths of different cloud platforms while maintaining control over data placement and application deployment.

Scalability and flexibility: Interconnection provides cloud computing with a scalable and flexible environment, enabling organizations to rapidly adjust their cloud resources in response to changing demands. Moreover, interconnection facilitates seamless connections to additional cloud services or providers, empowering businesses to adapt and expand their cloud ecosystem as their requirements evolve.

Improved performance: Interconnection reduces network latency and improves network performance by providing direct and dedicated connections to cloud providers. This results in faster data transfer, lower latency, and improved application responsiveness, particularly for latency-sensitive workloads or real-time applications.

Enhanced security: Interconnection provides a more secure alternative to transmitting data over the public internet. By establishing private connections between the business and the cloud provider, organizations can benefit from increased data privacy, reduced exposure to external threats, and better control over their security measures.

Data sovereignty and compliance: Interconnection allows businesses to address data sovereignty and compliance requirements by establishing private connections to cloud regions or data centers located within specific jurisdictions. This ensures that sensitive data remains within designated boundaries, complying with regulations and mitigating potential legal or compliance risks.

Interconnection for data centers

Interconnection plays a vital role in enabling efficient and reliable connectivity within data centers. Here are 6 key aspects of interconnection for data centers.

Network connectivity: Interconnection allows data centers to establish high-speed and direct connections to various networks, including internet service providers (ISPs), content delivery networks (CDNs), and other data centers. This connectivity ensures fast and reliable data transfer, reduces latency and improves overall network performance.

Data center-to-data center connectivity: Interconnection enables seamless connectivity between multiple data centers, whether they are owned by the same organization or different entities. This facilitates data replication, disaster recovery, load balancing, and other critical operations that require the transfer of large volumes of data between data centers.

Cloud connectivity: Interconnection provides data centers with direct and private connections to cloud service providers (CSPs). This allows organizations to establish hybrid cloud architectures, where data and workloads can be seamlessly distributed between on-premises infrastructure and cloud environments. Interconnection ensures secure and efficient data transfer between data centers and cloud platforms.

Interconnection ecosystems: Interconnection providers often create interconnection ecosystems within their data centers. These ecosystems bring together a variety of network service providers, cloud providers, content providers, and other businesses, allowing data center customers to establish direct and efficient connections to these partners. This ecosystem approach enhances collaboration, accelerates data exchange, and promotes innovation within the data center environment.

Redundancy and resilience: Interconnection enables data centers to establish redundant connections, ensuring high availability and resilience. By establishing diverse connectivity paths and redundant links, data centers can mitigate the risk of single points of failure and maintain continuous operations even in the event of network disruptions or equipment failures.

Scalability and flexibility: Interconnection allows data centers to easily scale their connectivity capabilities as their needs grow. With interconnection, data centers can quickly add new network connections or expand their interconnection capacity to accommodate increasing demands for data transfer and connectivity.

Interconnection best practices

Interconnection best practices refer to the recommended approaches and strategies for effectively implementing and managing interconnections between networks, data centers, and cloud environments. Here are 7 key interconnection best practices.

Planning and design: Start by thoroughly assessing your organization’s connectivity requirements, considering factors such as bandwidth, latency, security, and compliance. Plan your interconnection strategy accordingly, including the selection of suitable interconnection providers and the identification of optimal connectivity locations.

Redundancy and high availability: Implement redundancy in your interconnection setup to minimize the risk of service disruptions. Establish diverse physical paths, use multiple carriers, and consider redundant hardware configurations to maintain high availability. 

Security measures: Employ encryption, firewalls, intrusion detection, and prevention systems, as well as other security technologies to safeguard your interconnection points. Stay proactive in safeguarding your network by regularly evaluating and updating your security protocols to remain vigilant against emerging threats.

Performance monitoring: Utilize network monitoring tools and analytics to track latency, bandwidth utilization, packet loss, and other key metrics. Proactively address performance bottlenecks to maintain optimal connectivity and user experience.

Compliance and data governance: Ensure that your interconnection infrastructure meets regulatory standards and industry-specific compliance obligations. Implement appropriate data protection measures to safeguard sensitive information traversing through the interconnected networks.

Partner selection and collaboration: Choose interconnection providers that align with your organization’s needs and objectives. Evaluate their track record, reputation, technical capabilities, and customer support. Foster a collaborative relationship with your interconnection partners to ensure effective communication, troubleshooting, and coordination.

Scalability and future-proofing: Consider potential capacity needs and ensure your interconnection setup can accommodate increased traffic and connectivity demands. Stay updated with emerging technologies and trends to future-proof your interconnection strategy.

Interconnection trends and future developments

Interconnection is a dynamic field that is continually evolving. Here are 7 of the key interconnection trends and future developments.

Edge computing: interconnection will serve a vital function in linking edge locations to centralized data centers or cloud environments. This interconnection capability facilitates swift and effective data transfer, allowing for real-time analysis and processing at the edge.

Interconnection at the edge: The growth of edge computing also calls for interconnection capabilities at the edge itself. Interconnecting edge data centers or points of presence (PoPs) enables localized data exchange, reducing the need for data to travel long distances to centralized data centers. This trend allows for faster processing, improved reliability, and reduced network congestion.

Multi-cloud interconnection: As organizations increasingly adopt multi-cloud strategies, interconnecting multiple cloud environments becomes essential. Interconnection providers are developing solutions that allow businesses to establish secure and high-performance connections between different cloud providers, facilitating workload migration, data replication, and hybrid cloud architectures.

Interconnection-as-a-service: Interconnection-as-a-Service (IaaS) models are emerging, providing businesses with more flexible and cost-effective options. These models offer on-demand interconnection capabilities, allowing organizations to scale their connectivity resources based on their needs without the need for upfront investments in physical infrastructure.

Software-defined interconnection: Software-defined networking (SDN) principles are being applied to interconnection, enabling dynamic and programmable control over network connections. This approach allows organizations to establish and manage interconnections more efficiently, with greater agility and automation.

Enhanced security and compliance: With the increasing emphasis on data privacy and regulatory compliance, interconnection providers are enhancing their security measures and compliance offerings. Expect to see advancements in encryption technologies, secure interconnection protocols, and compliance-focused interconnection solutions to address evolving security and regulatory requirements.

Interconnection ecosystems: Interconnection providers are expanding their ecosystems, bringing together an array of network providers, cloud platforms, content providers, and other key players. These ecosystems create thriving business communities where organizations can easily connect and collaborate, fostering innovation and enabling new partnership opportunities.


What is interconnection?

Interconnection refers to the process of establishing direct and secure connections between networks, data centers, and other IT infrastructure components. It enables the seamless exchange of data, applications, and services between various entities, such as organizations, cloud providers, content delivery networks (CDNs), and internet service providers (ISPs).

Why is interconnection important?

Interconnection is important because it enables seamless and secure communication between networks, data centers, and other IT infrastructure components. It enhances network performance, reliability, and efficiency, facilitates data exchange between organizations and cloud providers, and supports the growing demands of cloud computing, IoT, and digital transformation initiatives.

What are the different types of interconnection?

The different types of interconnection include physical interconnection, which involves direct physical links between network endpoints or data centers, and virtual interconnection, which leverages software-defined networking (SDN) technologies to create virtual connections over shared infrastructure. Other types include internet exchange points (IXPs) and cloud interconnection.

What are the challenges of interconnection?

The challenges of interconnection include ensuring security and data privacy, managing complex network configurations, dealing with potential network congestion, addressing interoperability issues, and overcoming regulatory and compliance requirements. Additionally, the cost of establishing and maintaining interconnections can be a challenge for organizations.

What is interconnection an example?

An example of interconnection is the direct connection between a business’s on-premises data center and a cloud service provider, enabling seamless data exchange and resource sharing. This allows organizations to extend their infrastructure and access cloud services without relying solely on public internet connectivity.


Related Resources:

What You Need To Know About Interconnection In IT

Interconnection Types and Definitions

DataBank Interconnection


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