Living on the Edge: A Digital Age Demands a New Interconnection Strategy

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In January, I had the exciting opportunity to “live on the edge” and zipline onto a stage in front of 900 of my colleagues. What a rush! And so continued a multi-year tradition of antics at our Equinix Connect Conference that have included me acting out scenes from the Godfather, dressing up like Annie Oakley and being wheeled into the auditorium strapped to a giant drum.

But this year, my fun zipline ride had special business meaning. My exact intent was to emphasize “living on the edge” because this concept is a perfect metaphor for what enterprises are experiencing right now, both figuratively and physically. They are on the edge because our world has gone digital, and it is changing nearly every aspect of how we do business. Many companies are being forced to undergo a full IT metamorphosis simply to survive, and some aren’t making it. Accenture CEO Pierre Nanterme suggests that the business disruption coming from digital disruption is the main reason just over half of the companies on the Fortune 500 have disappeared since the year 2000.

Digital disruption brings opportunity at the digital edge

While digital disruption can certainly be viewed as a threat, we see forward-looking companies embracing digital transformation as an opportunity and building a digital edge – a distributed physical edge for their IT infrastructures. This is imperative, because if companies don’t adapt – and fast – they’ll start to struggle with poor application performance, escalating bandwidth costs, security risks and lack of agility.

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Technology trends like cloud, Internet of Things and big data seemed like buzzwords yesterday, but they’re here right now. And companies can’t fully take advantage of them without the ability to generate and serve up information and insights about “Anything,” to “Anyone,” “Anywhere.” But you can’t execute on these “3As” with siloed, centralized IT architectures that are bogged down by network pinch points and poor user experience and cut off from direct contact with partners, suppliers and customers. That just doesn’t work in today’s real-time, globally dispersed digital economy.

What we see that does work is a distributed infrastructure edge that leverages interconnection for performance and agility. For IT leaders, building an edge architecture means deploying key parts of their infrastructure to the edge of their traditional network boundaries and physically interconnecting them to multiple networks, to clouds, and directly to business partners inside an Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX™) data center.

This is where the virtual and physical worlds meet. It’s where users, customers and data interact with digital ecosystems. It’s where business happens and where value is created. Equinix customers across a wide variety of industries – from retail to finance to manufacturing – have been re-architecting their infrastructures leveraging interconnection, which Gartner recently characterized as “the glue” for digital business. By thinking about interconnection as a primary design principle in IT as opposed to an afterthought, cutting-edge businesses experience significant advantages, including improved enterprise collaboration and productivity, faster innovation and the ability to access more accurate insight from customer and product data in real-time. And, typically, they see some healthy network cost savings to boot.

A whole new world unfurls once customers think interconnection first and leverage the power of an interconnection platform that expands across 41 global markets and hosts a range of dynamic business ecosystems. They see that kind of interconnection is the key to getting closer to, and succeeding at, the digital edge.

Reaching the digital edge

To accelerate the journey to the digital edge, Equinix has developed an Interconnection Oriented Architecture™ (IOA™) strategy, a proven, repeatable engagement model that helps any business do business at the digital edge. We’ve also created the IOA Playbook – a design guide that takes an IOA strategy from concept to reality with the tangible, precise technical blueprints that an IT organization needs to deploy IT at the edge. And we’ve just released the Interconnection Strategy Guide, a less technical document aimed at helping businesses understand, apply and maximize an IOA strategy.

We are all standing on the precipice of something transformational, and the time is now to starting living on the edge. Yes, it can be scary. These days, it may feel like you’re looking off a cliff now and then. But I say that means you’re probably in the right place.

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