Global interconnection and data center vendor Equinix has announced plans for increased connectivity between its IBX exchanges. Each International Business Exchange (IBX) will be connected both physically and virtually to each other. This will create a new high-speed inter-metro fabric to be called the Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric. It will be based on the existing Equinix Cloud Exchange.
According to Sara Baack, Chief Marketing Officer, Equinix: “As digital transformation intensifies, business possibilities have no limits and neither should an organization’s IT infrastructure. Building a digital business requires the ability to reach strategic global destinations on demand, to access everyone that matters, and to bring people, clouds, data and things together.
“Today’s announcements and our future product and services roadmap are aimed at leveraging the Equinix global platform to serve as a strategic partner for companies on this journey.”
The ECX Fabric deal will go live in all existing ECX locations in North America and EMEA. This covers 17 major locations. It will then be extended by early 2018 to seven more metros across the two regions. By the end of 2018 it will encompass Sao Paolo and six locations in APAC.
What does this mean for customers?
This is all about speed and scale. Over the last three years Equinix has focused on being the high-speed connection between enterprise customers and large software vendor clouds. It has rolled out services that allow businesses to connect to its network either via a Point of Presence (PoP) or through services inside its data centres.
They can then harness high-speed, low latency links back to the likes of Salesforce, Microsoft Azure, Alibaba, SAP, ServiceNow, Rackspace, Google Cloud Platform, IBM SoftLayer and Oracle Cloud. This is an impressive list of top tier cloud and SaaS providers. What this announcement does is extend the low latency connection to local instances to any location around the world.
This is important for enterprise customers. Some do not want to spend money on having instances in multiple data centres. What they want is the ability to hold their data and applications in their region of choice. This is as much about choice and cost as it is about regulation. Data sovereignty is becoming more and more of an issue. This means that data cannot be replicated across regions so enterprise customers need high-speed low latency access at a global level to the data repository.
It also provides support for cloud service providers. They can now offer their services globally, at least by the end of 2018 when the current announced roll out completes. It means that specialist providers don’t need to be buying cloud capability in multiple regions in order to access new markets. They can start by providing their services over IBX, build a customer base and then deploy more widely as required.
What does this mean?
Businesses of all sizes are increasingly moving towards the cloud. The two biggest pain points that regularly come up in surveys, however, are connectivity and security. This does not solve that last mile connection but it does begin to resolve the wider latency issue of multi-network gateways. It means that once inside the Equinix IBX world, customers will be moved around the world on Equinix’s own fabric. In effect, Equinix is treating all of its own data centres as if they were once huge metro fabric.
It’s an ambitious move and it will be interesting to see how much Equinix can improve performance over other solutions. For very large organisations moving to hybrid cloud where some assets will remain in a controlled data centre and others in the cloud, this offers a solution to latency issues. It will also allow customers to connect between their own sites at very high-speed.
It also works for those customers who find themselves in a multi-cloud world. This is becoming more common as business units circumvent IT and buy cloud solutions. IT then has to stitch together access across multiple providers. Equinix is offering them a better solution. This solutions means they need just a single on ramp to access services from large numbers of providers. It solves the first challenge of access. It also allows IT to start dealing with where data is flowing and delivering better controls.
The only downside is the slow rate of deployment to APAC. This is a very fast growing market and Equinix could find local providers club together to beat it to market. However, given how deep its pockets are, we would expect it to simply buy its way into any competitive solution.