This is the third installment of our “How to Speak Like a Data Center Geek” series, and if you’ve followed our previous blogs (click here and here ), then you’ve no doubt learned acronyms and terms with almost no use in everyday life. If you’re in a data center, however, the words we’ve introduced will show you’re in the know.
In our next two posts in this series, we’ll tackle data center jargon related to connectivity. In today’s installment, we’ll talk about connectivity options used by many customers within Equinix data centers.
Cross-connect – a coaxial, fiber or sometimes copper cable that connects customers’ equipment directly to other customers’ equipment inside Equinix data centers. Since cross-connects transmit data point-to-point between computing systems inside our facility, they are not susceptible to the latency or congestion problems of the public Internet and can be relied upon to operate at consistently high speeds. And cross-connects are much cheaper than connecting through conventional telecom networks for the bandwidth provided. They’re also more reliable, because a construction crew is unlikely to accidentally sever your network cable with a backhoe. (Equinix expressly prohibits backhoes inside our data centers.) Equinix cross-connects facilitate direct business-to-business activity between our customers. We maintain 110,000+ cross-connects inside our data centers, supporting thriving industry ecosystems of companies that colocate at Equinix to get closer to their partners and customers. Makes you want to cross-connect, doesn’t it?
Intracampus cross-connect – basically extended-range cross-connects that turn one data center into a village of data centers. Intracampus cross-connects enable customers inside Equinix IBX facilities to set up direct, physical communications links to customers located in other Equinix buildings on the same campus. Here’s how it works: a colo provider (Equinix) installs fiber optic cables connecting clusters of data centers. This fiber connection shunts data from an aggregation point inside one data center to an aggregation point inside another data center. No switching or routing is needed, so the connection is very, very fast—it’s a private autobahn for moving data short distances.
Metro Connect – used to link data centers located several miles apart in the same metropolitan area. Like intracampus cross-connects, Equinix Metro Connects use fiber links to tie together separate Equinix IBX facilities. Unlike intracampus cross-connects, the fiber links used for Metro Connects span longer distances and are not installed and operated by Equinix. (We’d like to own and run everything, but we suffer constraints such as reality and property rights.) Nevertheless, Metro Connects help Equinix customers connect across a broader geographic area. For example, in the Washington, D.C. metro area, customers located in Equinix’s DC7 IBX in Vienna, Virginia, can use metro connects to access our DC2 IBX in Ashburn, Virginia, which houses one of the highest concentrations of network service providers in the world.
Internet exchange – a physical site where telecom companies and ISPs exchange Internet traffic between their networks. Traditionally, the place where these companies meet to peer their data networks and hand off traffic is an Internet Exchange Point (IXP). Equinix has 19 IXPs, but we’ve put a twist on them: instead of limiting participation to communications carriers and ISPs, we’ve expanded participation to all types of companies. (No customer should feel left out in our data centers.) So why would companies who aren’t ISPs want to join an Internet exchange? To lower overall transit costs for high volumes of data traffic and to enhance network performance, speed and reliability. This capability is especially beneficial to “power users” of IP networks such as cloud service providers, online gaming companies and e-commerce firms. Today, more than 750 companies connect to Equinix Internet Exchanges. By connecting to a single port in an Equinix Internet Exchange, customers can hand off data traffic to many different companies without the hassle of setting up data links to each company individually. It’s like an EU passport: membership through a single place opens the doors to many desirable destinations! In our case, instead of Italy and France, we offer you Amazon Web Services and Facebook.
Here endeth the post, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t add that data center geeks have a thing for interconnection, since it’s essential for the enterprise to compete. Download Equinix’s IOA Playbook, which describes an interconnection-first architecture that securely connects people, locations, clouds and data.
And check out every post in the “Speak Like a Data Center Geek” series. (Please note: We welcome binge readers):
Part 3: Connections I