6 July 2021

The value of the Southern European interconnection ecosystem


Q&A with Theresa Bobis

DE-CIX Madrid has become the heart of the largest neutral interconnection ecosystem in Southern Europe in just five years. Madrid was established in 2016 and quickly became the fastest-growing Internet Exchange in the world. Over the last five years, under the leadership of Theresa Bobis, Regional Director Southern Europe at DE-CIX, four further Internet Exchanges have been established in Southern Europe – DE-CIX Marseille, DE-CIX Lisbon, DE-CIX Palermo, and most recently, DE-CIX Barcelona.

We spoke to Theresa – who was just named as one of the Capacity Media's "20 Women to watch out for in 2021" – about her role and what the future might bring for the Southern European interconnection ecosystem.

Tell us about your history at DE-CIX. What is your area of responsibility?

I joined DE-CIX in 2015 and, as a Regional Director, I am responsible for Southern Europe. My job is to help customers and partners see the value of our Internet Exchanges and the value of the interconnection ecosystem and grow it by bringing new networks to connect.

Our main focus is the Iberian Peninsula, with specific attention on Madrid, but the other Internet Exchanges also play an important role in the ecosystem as well as gateways to and from the rest of the world. Peering is the core service in Southern Europe, but in the last 18 months, we have increasingly also brought forward the next level of interconnection and the advantages of the ecosystem to new customers in the enterprise sector.

You mentioned working with partners. Who are we collaborating with in Southern Europe?

Our partners play an important role in supporting the digital world and our ecosystem in Southern Europe. We collaborate with Internet Service Providers (ISPs), data centers, as well as submarine cable operators, and landing stations.

And as more and more enterprises invest in their digital infrastructure, we work closely with partners and customers – ISPs, data centers, system integrators etc. – to bring our services to their end customers.

DE-CIX Madrid is celebrating its fifth birthday this year. Tell us about how the Internet Exchange came about and how it has developed in the past five years.

Some of our customers requested that we open an Internet Exchange in Madrid and so we did; five years ago. The international and content networks supported us from the start, and we had incredible support from our various partners. The first two years, we worked to bring all the local and international players to really grow and develop the ecosystem – and Madrid became the fastest growing Internet Exchange in the world. To me, Madrid is the new London because of the exponential growth!

I’m proud of the expertise, support, and technological innovations in terms of new services that we can deliver to our customers in Madrid – I cannot remember a day when we had a complaint! 

How has the interconnection landscape in Southern Europe developed?

There was, and there continues to be, high demand for interconnection services in the region. So it is not just us who are growing but also our competitors and our partners.

How Madrid has grown year on year has really surpassed all of our expectations. The Internet Exchanges on the coastal regions – in Lisbon, Marseille, Palermo, and the newest one in Barcelona – also play a very important geographical role in connecting Europe to Africa, Middle East, Asia, and Asia to Latin America. These are the entry points for international networks into Europe and into the DE-CIX world. For example, if you are a network from West Africa, you can connect in Lisbon and from there to Madrid and beyond. And vice versa, of course.

The traffic and number of connected networks continue to grow. For example, last year, DE-CIX Marseille’s peak traffic rose by almost 90 percent. Meanwhile, in Lisbon, the number of connected networks went up by 89 percent. We also see that small and medium-sized customers are taking advantage of value-adding services such as GlobePEER Remote to create redundancy and improve the resiliency of their network as well as to connect to networks present at our other interconnected exchanges.

Barcelona is our latest Internet Exchange in Southern Europe. How do you see that developing, and how does it impact the other locations?

DE-CIX Barcelona will definitely play an important role in the coming months and years serving local eyeballs and key enterprises in Catalonia and beyond.

The city is a vibrant hub with a lot of tech companies, and the government is very active in supporting digital infrastructure. New data centers are being built, and it has a new submarine cable landing station. For local customers, the new exchange offers the possibility to have a presence both in Madrid and Barcelona, which gives them a very robust network design in terms of latency and resiliency.

How do you see the business and the interconnection landscape developing in Southern Europe in the next couple of years?

The bigger trends around digitalization and the growing demand for digital infrastructure will have a huge impact on the Southern European interconnection landscape. The increase in remote working and advanced applications demand better connections and low latency. The new normal, or the better normal, means that people are always connected. This requires a resilient and robust interconnection infrastructure and being closer to the users. Through DE-CIX as a Service and expanding the DE-CIX-enabled sites, we are looking to grow the ecosystem in Southern Europe and be closer to people and businesses. 

For DE-CIX, our next big task is to work with our partners to bring our interconnection services to the enterprise market to help enterprises to solve their challenges around network performance, reducing latency, and improving security with our services.