Getting Value from the Cloud Ecosystem

 

By Chris Sharp, General Manager, Global Content & Cloud at Equinix

 

cloud-equinix

 

We’ve been spending the last few months putting our thoughts together on the cloud ecosystem we’ve seen develop at our carrier-neutral interconnection points over the years. There are now more compelling reasons than ever for your business to investigate how a cloud ecosystem can be valuable to you. We think of the cloud ecosystem as a kind of three-legged stool that can support your business, with future proofing, economic advantage and control.

Future Proofing
It’s a given that technology will change constantly. IT departments struggle to keep pace with new services and products, particularly those delivered over the Internet as services, over which they do not always have complete control. The temptation is to pick the first one that arises and stick with it. But if you want to maintain an environment that fosters creativity, growth, and innovation, you don’t want to get stuck building your entire digital strategy on the back of one vendor. A cloud ecosystem consists of multiple providers at every layer of the stack-Infrastructure-, Platform-, and Software-as-a-Service (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS). With all of these components available at the shortest possible connection distance, you’ll have optimum throughput between your systems and theirs, as well as the freedom to switch providers when you needs change, practically at the flip of a switch.
We encourage you to examine the potential the cloud ecosystem provides for your company to access best-in-breed technology providers and to pick and choose the best combination of providers for accomplishing your business goals.

Economics
The economics of the cloud ecosystem present a compelling proposition that pulls together a lot of complex technology into a very simple organizational principle: the more direct access you have to the vast resources in the cloud, the more cost-effective your use of the cloud will be. Because our interconnection hubs are where telecom carriers, transport and local loop providers, content delivery networks, SaaS providers, application accelerators, and more come together to meet each other, it logically follows that the best place for companies to access and compose a palette of services from these providers is the cloud ecosystem, too.

For companies connecting to services such as Amazon Web Services or Box, it’s a no-brainer. We’re all accumulating more data faster than ever before. Storage is cheap but moving data around is not-the greater the number of connections, and longer the length of the pipe, the more companies feel the sluggish pull of what we call “data gravity.” Rather than separately running lines to each provider, you can instead run short cross-connections on high-throughput fiber within our carrier-neutral data centers. Now, companies can choose to put some workloads into the public cloud when scalability is a requirement, and use a private cloud when stability is the bigger requirement-either way, they only pay for what they use, and switching between the two is easy in the cloud ecosystem.

Take, for instance, what industry-leader Badgeville was able to achieve by directly connecting to AWS within Equinix. Badgeville moved from an all-public cloud deployment to deploying a hybrid cloud model within Equinix. As a result, the company was able to gain control of its own infrastructure and derive significant business benefits, including performance increases of up to 40 percent, faster API response times and a reduction in monthly cloud expenditure of approximately 40 percent. (Download the Badgeville case study)

The cloud ecosystem is also where vendors come shopping for new components, partners, and services, allowing them to create product “mashups” that would previously have been cost-prohibitive. That’s why companies can now get the benefit of the Chatterbox file-sharing service within SalesForce, for example.

Control
One of the biggest myths about the cloud is the idea that enterprises necessarily lose control of their data once it’s in the cloud. It’s true that public cloud outages have been scary. Content delivery networks (CDNs) were created to help content producers navigate the complexities of telecom interconnections across local, regional, national, and inter-company handoffs, but have remained a high-cost solution even as bandwidth costs have decreased. Companies that wanted to ensure visibility into and performance of their applications across global locations had to pay global providers excessive amounts to run dedicated lines to all of their endpoints.

Organizations that don’t want to accept these terms don’t have to-these are important players, but they’re not the only game in town. Customers also don’t have to buy the prix fixe-that is, buy the full range of services from a given provider-they can order a la carte. The cloud ecosystem is like a cafeteria where everything is within reach. A hybrid cloud solution composed in the cloud ecosystem lets companies build their own composite solutions with as much visibility, granularity, and control as they need, at the most efficient cost points.

Another control issue that troubles IT leaders and telecom providers alike is how to manage the explosion of mobile devices that employees, customers, and partners all want to use, and from which they expect a seamless experience, customized to each device, yet equal to the capabilities of the desktop. Today, providers are dealing with increasing user expectations of performance, data security, interdependency between applications, and multiple legacy technologies, by taking advantage of the proximities inherent in the cloud ecosystem.

A great example of a company taking control of their infrastructure and reaping great rewards is Box.net. Equinix worked closely with Box to develop a comprehensive strategy for distributing a global network of nodes, which today act as the foundation for Box Accelerator, its recently announced global data transfer network. By leveraging Equinix’s global footprint to get closer to its customers, Box is improving customer application response times by 60 percent. (Download the Box case study)

Conclusion
The CIO’s job used to be “run the data center.” Now organizations connect to all kinds of services outside of the assets they own directly. All the propositions around maintaining quality of service, all of the economics around connectivity, and all of the paradigms of control are changing. The design of an application now means designing for supporting that application in the cloud, which means providing service continuity, maintaining data access, and managing costs in a whole new way.

We think the new skills of the CIO will be honed, tested, and rewarded in the cloud ecosystem.

Beginning with “Why the Hybrid Cloud Makes Sense,” we hope you’ll investigate this white paper series, which encourages practitioners to think beyond the four walls of their data centers when trying to grapple with the demanding economic, technological, and operational issues they face in the name of delivering ever-higher performance applications to end users. (Download the white paper)