How IT Organizations Can Keep Precision Time

Equinix Time-as-a-Service lets enterprises and government agencies easily transition to a modern reliable and secure timing infrastructure.

Shilpa Nagesh
Ramki Ramakrishnan

We are very excited to announce the launch of Equinix Precision Time™, an industry-first global, Time-as-a-Service (TaaS) capability delivered over Equinix Fabric™ that delivers precise, reliable, and secure time synchronization that can be provisioned in minutes. For Equinix customers, Equinix Precision Time offers a far easier and faster method to source time than to procure, deploy, maintain and manage GPS antennas, time servers and other timing infrastructure.

As information moves across enterprise networks, precise time synchronization is critical for latency-sensitive enterprise applications. For example, financial services firms need precise time synchronization to reconcile stock trades and detect fraud. Manufacturers need it to coordinate complex assembly processes. Streaming services need it to ensure audio and video remain in sync. And it is vital to evolving use cases around autonomous vehicles and other smart city operations to keep things moving.

We specifically see a critical need for a more comprehensive approach to synchronize precision time in the government sector, where all U.S. government agencies and critical infrastructure are required to have alternative sources of time, aside from traditional GPS Antennas, to maintain network synchronization of mission-critical networks backed up by an SLA in order to mitigate GPS vulnerabilities. Equinix Precision Time enables government IT organizations to easily, reliably and securely consume time synchronization to manage mission critical applications. In addition, it includes an atomic clock for hold over back-up option and security.

Watch "Introducing Equinix Precision Time™ – Tech Talk 13"

Hear first-hand how Time as a Service (TaaS) can help your enterprise overcome the challenges of using the public internet for time synchronization, and procuring, managing and maintaining GPS antennas and other timing infrastructure during global change.

Watch the Tech Talk
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Equinix Precision Time improves deployment efficiency and network agility while minimizing reliance on the public internet."

Helping government agencies keep critical missions on time

A modern TaaS is especially important for government agencies, which typically have legacy timing services that are inadequate for today’s more complex systems and networks from a security and scalability stand point. Also, a presidential executive order from February 2020 in the U.S. requires alternative time sources to GNSS or GPS Antennas.[i] Some of the many government use cases requiring a modern TaaS include:

  • Compliance – Timestamping is an SLA requirement under regulations such as NIST, FINRA, MiFID II, and SMPTE-2110.
  • Network optimization & agility – A timing service improves efficiency across a distributed agency by reducing latency jitter and eliminating reliance on the public internet, which is unreliable and insecure. It can also reduce the time and cost of maintaining timing infrastructure.
  • Logfile time stamps – In every government network deployment, network engineers synchronize server, storage and network equipment to create the precise logfiles necessary for identifying network security intrusions and performing network troubleshooting.
  • Real-world time values – Precise timestamping and synchronization is critical for real-time dynamic applications, such as multisite software development, real-time data acquisition, and timestamping applications, such as for energy metering and data collection for geological surveys.
  • Military operations – The success of a military operation often depends on precisely timed coordination between distant command centers and different units in different geographies – on land, in the air and at sea.
For government agencies, it ultimately comes down to the most efficient and cost-effective method to fulfill their missions and deliver required time synchronization services in a compliant way." Jim Farmer, Director, Government Solutions & NSP Marketing at Equinix

Equinix Precision Time on Equinix Fabric delivers real time on-demand

Equinix Precision Time on Equinix Fabric provides enterprises and government agencies a more accurate, reliable and secure alternative to the existing time synchronization offerings for all applications. For example, the following options present multiple issues:

  • DIY approach – Using the global navigation satellite system (GNSS or GPS in the U.S.) to colocate a receiver and antenna in each data center requires an expensive and time-consuming process of procuring, setting up, operating and securing the infrastructure. It is also difficult to scale across geographies.
  • Internet time – Using ntp.org or other time service over the public internet is easy, but it isn’t accurate enough for most use cases. There are no SLAs, and it can leave infrastructure vulnerable to cyberattacks.
  • Time as a service – Legacy TaaS offerings have proven very expensive for vendors to offer and customers to scale, which is why they are available in only a limited number of locations and will never be widely available.

Equinix Precision Time takes a new approach, improving deployment efficiency and network agility while minimizing reliance on the public internet and GPS antennas for time synchronization. Enterprises and government agencies deployed on Platform Equinix can now take advantage of direct, secure, reliable and low-latency connectivity between source timing servers and distributed systems and devices. Consumed as a service, Equinix Precision Time is cost-effective and can be set up in minutes, without customers needing to purchase or deploy their own infrastructure. Equinix Precision Time is an on-demand service available in all metros with Equinix Fabric™, except in Australia and LATAM, which will be available in the second half of 2021.

Key features of Equinix Precision Time include:

  • High Accuracy – Offers an SLA of 50 microseconds for PTP (Precision Time Protocol) in compliance with regulations such as FINRA and MiFID II
  • Reliability – Bypasses the public internet and provides a more stable time synchronization across servers, thanks to Equinix Fabric.
  • Rapid Provisioning & Capex Savings – Provides easy configuration and deployment in a matter of minutes through a customer portal, with easy coordination across global metros.
  • Consumed as a service – Ensures easy and cost-effective scaling up or down.

Converging precision time and network services via Equinix Fabric

Equinix has become a vital point of convergence for the various services that support digital infrastructure, including those provided by the more than 1,800 network service providers (NSPs) on Platform Equinix.  For example, Verizon’s Software-Defined Interconnect (SDI) over Equinix Fabric is an agile solution that lets IT organizations easily take advantage of Equinix Precision Time on-demand, completely eliminating the need for dedicated access circuits and timing hardware, thus accelerating time to deployment.

For more information visit Equinix Precision Time – Equinix Time as a Service or download the Equinix Precision Time data sheet.

You may also want to read:

Press Release: Finance, Online Gaming, Broadcast and Other Latency-Sensitive Businesses Benefit from New On-Demand, Precision Time Service on Platform Equinix

Why Enterprises Need a Time as a Service for Digital Edge

Changing the Way Digital Business Connects 

The Future of Precision Time-as-a-Service

 

[i] Federal Mandate, Feb. 2020.

Equinix Precision Time offers a far easier and faster method to source time than to procure, deploy, maintain and manage GPS antennas, time servers and other timing infrastructure."
Shilpa Nagesh
Shilpa Nagesh Product Marketing Manager
Ramki Ramakrishnan
Ramki Ramakrishnan Principal - Product, Research and Incubation Group