How Equinix Is Weaving a Global Network of Datacenters
Now in the next phase of expansion, the Equinix ECX Fabric service is bringing secure datacenter cloud connections to even more businesses around the world.
- By John K. Waters
Datacenter giant Equinix has had a busy summer.
This week alone, the company announced a collaboration with Verizon to support the telecom's new Software-Defined Interconnect (SDI) solution, participation in the launch of the new AWS Direct Connect service delivery program, and the opening of its 11th International Business Exchange (IBX) datacenter in Tokyo.
And last month, the Redwood City, Calif.-based company expanded its longtime relationship with IBM around Direct Link, IBM Cloud's private interconnection service that leverages virtual connections via the Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric (ECX) in IBX datacenters globally. Equinix also formed a joint venture with GIC, Singapore's state-owned investment fund, to develop and operate xScale datacenters in Europe for such hyperscale clients as Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook, Alibaba and Tencent.
Equinix is weaving together these relationships (pardon the pun) with the ECX Fabric, an advanced interconnection solution the company created about two years ago to improve network performance among its datacenters. The company touts ECX's built-in software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities, which make it possible for its digital customers to connect their own infrastructures across Equinix locations, or to connect to other Equinix global platform customers.
At the time of the ECX launch, Equinix promised an expansion that would allow more than 1,000 participants to interconnect their worldwide infrastructures and request connections of each other on the ECX Fabric. The list of those early participants included Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Alibaba, IBM Cloud and Oracle Cloud, as well as other cloud service providers and SaaS providers like Salesforce, SAP and ServiceNow.
Equinix has branded its ever-growing global network of interconnected datacenters and business ecosystems as Platform Equinix. The next phase of Platform Equinix's evolution started last month with the unveiling of new Network Edge services. According to a statement from Equinix, these new services were designed to allow companies to modernize their networks virtually, within minutes, by deploying network functions virtualization (NFV) from multiple vendors to connect their digital supply chains at Equinix.
This week's Verizon and AWS announcements move Equinix well into that next phase.
Verizon's new SDI solution works with Equinix's ECX Fabric to give users of the telecom's Private IP service direct connectivity among 115 Equinix IBX datacenters. "IBX" is a trademarked tag Equinix applies to its network of colocation datacenters to underscore its emphasis on protecting customers' mission-critical data with "high reliability, redundancy, power density, and security." Verizon's Private IP service is a Layer 3 MPLS virtual private network. MPLS (which stands for multiprotocol label switching) is a routing technique that directs data from one node to the next based on short path labels instead of long network addresses.
"Verizon's new Software Defined Interconnect addresses one of the leading issues for organizations by improving colocation access," said IDC analyst Courtney Munroe in a statement. "This offer facilitates a reduction in network and connectivity costs for accessing colocation datacenters, while promoting agility and innovation for enterprises. This represents a competitive advantage for Verizon as it applies SDN technology to improve interconnecting its Private IP MPLS network globally."
This is not the first time Equinix has done business with Verizon. In 2017, the telecom agreed to resell Equinix colocation and interconnection services. The reseller agreement enabled Verizon to pair colocation and interconnection services in Equinix IBX datacenters worldwide. That same year, Equinix acquired 29 datacenters operated by Verizon.
Nor is this Equinix's first dance with AWS. The company was already providing private connectivity with AWS Direct Connect, but the new service delivery program allows Equinix customers to use hosted connections with 1G, 2G, 5G and 10G capacities on the ECX Fabric. The bumped-up capabilities allow enterprises dealing with mission-critical workloads to benefit from lower latency and higher bandwidth capacities for hybrid cloud architectures on Platform Equinix. Equinix CEO Steve Smith called it "an easy onramp to the cloud."
"AWS Direct Connect opens up a wide range of exciting new possibilities in hybrid cloud computing," Smith said in a statement, "and will allow customers in Equinix facilities to leverage Amazon Web Services as if it was part of their own infrastructure."
IDC analyst Jennifer Cooke said the key to a successful digital transformation -- and to the inevitable move of enterprise IT infrastructure to the cloud -- is "the flexibility and scalability advantages of hybrid cloud architectures that enable them to easily move workloads and data between public and private clouds."
"Interconnection is a critical component, providing enterprises with a more secure, higher bandwidth and cost-effective connectivity option to the public cloud versus the public internet," Cooke said in a statement. "Equinix's ability to provide enterprises, especially those with sensitive workloads, enhanced capabilities to build a hybrid cloud environment enables frictionless migration to the public cloud -- and allows enterprises to reap the enormous benefits the cloud has to offer."
John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of Converge360.com sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS. He can be reached at [email protected].