On Tuesday, we hosted Canadians Connected 2012, CIRA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Internet symposium. This was the first AGM we’ve held in Ottawa in CIRA’s 11 year history, and with the reception we received, it won’t be the last.
We heard from a couple of great speakers. Scott Stratten, author of UnMarketing and The Book of Business Awesome, is a very engaging presenter. He left the audience in awe at his high energy style and innovative opinions on marketing in the new digital age. Scott is a friend of ours at CIRA – he has spoken at a couple of events that we held for our Registrars.
Biz Stone, the co-creator of Twitter, closed the day with a fascinating keynote presentation. By linking a series of stories and anecdotes of his career, I think most of us were inspired to take risks and push the limits of creativity.
Biz also spoke about altruism and the future of business. He believes that altruism isn’t just good for the community, it’s good for business. The two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, according to Biz, you can do better by doing ‘good’ for the community. He said that consumers are attracted to meaning, and as a result, the future of marketing is philanthropy. It is through doing ‘good’ that a corporation creates value.
We live that at CIRA, as we try to play a role that is meaningful to Canadians. That’s why we support the development of the open source software called Bind10, the next generation of the software that essentially makes the domain name system work. It’s why we hold the Canadian Internet Forum, it’s why we recently started supporting techu.me, an organization dedicated to getting young people interesting in a career in technology, and it’s why we actively support the development of digital literacy in Canada through our work with MediaSmarts.
The two keynotes provided a good balance, and bookended what was a very successful AGM for CIRA.
While the AGM agenda included the usual items, a Member update on CIRA activities and financial reports, at this AGM we called on CIRA Members to vote on some changes to our governance structure and processes. These changes are the result of many months of work on behalf of the CIRA staff and Board of Directors, and have been the topic for a few blog posts.
I am happy to report that the changes were approved by a vote of the CIRA Membership at the AGM. As an organization, we are now ready for when the new federal legislation governing not-for-profits comes into force in 2014.
We will be posting videos of the AGM on our YouTube Channel soon. In the meantime, we’ve posted some photographs from the day here.
I think most of the regular readers of this blog know that I am a proponent of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs). Fundamentally, an IXP is a local network bridge that results in local network traffic taking shorter, faster paths between member networks.
At CIRA, we believe that a robust network of IXPs in Canada would result in a number of key benefits, from cost savings to increased speed, and increased bandwidth, reduced latency, and enabling Canadian data to remain in Canada (and therefore not subject to the laws of a foreign jurisdiction).
For the past year, CIRA has been working with a number of community-based organizations to develop IXPs in cities across Canada. We set up a wiki to facilitate a national dialogue on IXPs. You can view and participate in those conversations here.
We have developed the following visual representation of CIRA’s vision for the role of IXPs in a digitally-connected Canada:
We also engaged Packet Clearing House (PCH), a leading not-for-profit Internet traffic research institute, to develop a white paper highlighting the opportunities and challenges to developing a network of IXPs in Canada. PCH are really the global experts in this field. They have been involved in the development of more than 150 IXs since they were formed in 1994. They provided a set of recommendations about IXP locations, technical specifications and governance structures that would ensure success. That report, titled Towards Efficiencies in Canadian Internet Traffic, is available here.
In essence, this report provides us with a roadmap for the development of IXPs in Canada. I’d like to highlight some of the key points.
The authors identified a need to develop a network of IXPs in Canada, and found that the benefits of doing so will be real and tangible. Canada currently has about one IXP per 17 million citizens. Compare that with a rate of one per four million in the United States or one per two million in Australia, and the need becomes clear.
Clearly, we are underserviced as Canadians. If we act on their recommendations, Canada would have a network of IXPs that connects us from coast to coast to coast.
The authors looked at a number of IXPs around the globe, including TORIX and OTTIX in Canada, and identified some common elements among the governance structures and processes of the successful ones. In terms of governance, successful IXPS:
1. Are consortia of their network-operator participants, including Internet service providers (ISPs), content distribution networks, research and evaluation networks, and other relevant exchange members.
2. Very often IXPs are not-for-profits, and do not stand to gain financially from their success and are politically neutral in their activities. They tend to have a very democratic governance structure – all participants have an equal voice. That means that one participant cannot have a disproportionate level of control over the IXP.
3. Never compete with their participants, nor do they engage in for profit ventures. They also tend to operate at little to no cost, and tend not to place a cost burden on their participants.
With this report, we have the benchmark study to build a network of IXPs in Canada. Not only does it address the ‘how to’ at an individual IXP level, but it also identifies the opportunities and challenges for the development of a network of IXPs in Canada.
If you have an interest in seeing Canada become a digital leader, please take the time to read this important paper.
And, will you help us establish IXPs by getting involved in your local community and by participating in the discussion on our Wiki?