Four of the world’s largest internet exchanges have joined forces to establish the Route Server Support Foundation (RSSF). The foundation aims to promote the development of new route server software.

The four participating internet exchanges are AMS-IX in Amsterdam, DE-CIX in Frankfurt, LINX in London and Netnod in Sweden. With their own software, the parties hope to achieve greater diversity in route server software and reduce the dependence on a limited offering.

Navigation for internet traffic

A route server is a device that indicates the possible paths for Internet traffic. Networks that connect to an exchange receive from the route server an overview of the various other networks connected to the exchange. Based on this, new networks can calculate the fastest routes to the IP addresses they are looking for. Especially for new networks joining an exchange, such route servers are practical. For existing connected networks, it is useful when new networks join the exchange.

Currently there is only one software package for implementing a route server that can handle an internet exchange of the size of AMS-IX. This software is called BIRD. The Route Server Support Foundation would like to see more choice on the market, and has therefore decided to develop new software for this purpose.

Based on open standards

The plan is to base the software on existing open-source standards, such as OpenBGPD from OpenBSD. Job Snijders, technical lead of the RSSF, says: “In OpenBGPD we have a strong and secure foundation to develop a robust Route Server. We are proud to have received the financial commitments which allow us to hire talented developers to work on open source software for public benefit!”

Niels Raijer, chairman of RSSF, adds: “Under today’s circumstances, Internet Exchanges have become critical infrastructure. With RSSF, we offer not just a technical, but also a financial and management structure. That makes it possible for our developers to focus on what they love, which is improving Open Source software, while we make sure the software becomes delivered according to the requirements and on schedule.”

Steven Bakker, platform and solutions architect at AMS-IX says: “Open standards and software diversity are essential for the robustness of the Internet, so we fully endorse an initiative that aims to develop a viable alternative to the existing route server. Moreover, this initiative once again shows that the large Internet exchanges can work together to achieve goals that are beneficial to the whole industry.”

The RSSF has not shared a timeline for the development.