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What is the APE?
The Auckland Peering Exchange (APE) was established to allow entities connected to the APE switches in Auckland to send traffic directly to and from each other rather than via their ISP. This activity is known as peering. This provides improvements in speed as traffic travels directly between the parties and reduces load on the network by reducing the need for traffic to be duplicated through one or more intermediate ISP routers. In some cases this also avoids traffic being routed "out of town", or incurring ISP's traffic charges.
Each connected entity could add specific details of networks they want to talk to directly to their routers (static routes and bilateral BGP sessions) but this quickly becomes an administrative headache as adds, changes and deletions become time consuming and error prone if more than a few peering sessions are configured.
The Auckland Peering Exchange provides two route servers which contain routing details for each of the participants. This simplifies peering enormously for most exchange users.
APE grew out of discussions on the NZNOG mailing list. The Sky Tower was agreed to be a sensible meeting place, since it was already kitted out as a telehousing facility, it's a good high-point for wireless access, and it was about as neutral a point to meet as anybody could think of.
Initially participant equipment and the CityLink switches were mainly located on the 48th floor of the Sky Tower. This deck is air-conditioned and enclosed with low-attenuation glass, allowing point-to-point radio shots back to base without needing weatherproofing and resource consent for external antennas. CityLink have also extended APE's L2 LAN outside of the Sky Tower so it is possible to connect to APE at a number of locations in the Auckland CBD without having a circuit into the Sky Tower.
There are two sets of policies that any prospective participant needs to think about.
Reaching the Exchange
Any other exchange participant who has some access off the tower is probably also in a position to offer at least packet-based data communications from installations at the tower to other places via the internet.
Services on APE
Route Servers and Looking Glass
CityLink provides the route servers at APE (and WIX) and encourage all participants to announce their routes to the servers.
The following Looking Glasses are available: CityLink's APE Looking Glass provides a view that represents the routes that the participants pass to the APE route server. A number of bilateral peering arrangements also operate across the APE so this does not give a full picture. The usenet.net.nz view includes both ihug's APE peering and private peering.
F Root Nameserver
The Internet Software Consortium has a node of the F root nameserver at the APE in Auckland. Networks connected to the APE can gain access to this node by peering with it across the exchange.
For more details see Peering with ISC