How to Localize Digital Services at the Edge for Greater Performance and QoS

Mark Anderson

The shift to digital requires trading complicated silos for interactive systems of digital services. In this new environment, businesses seeking to build internetworked components need to transform application development to an API-centric approach. This approach requires deploying an application communication gateway in the form of a digital edge node (“interconnection hub”) that colocates application functions that handle latency-sensitive or volume-driven workloads. This strategy allows companies to meet enterprise users’ expectations for excellent quality of service (QoS) and experience (QoE)-while enabling digital businesses to accelerate the rate at which they deliver solutions to the market.

To build internetworked software components and gain the controls required for digital business success, organizations must transform their application development to an API- and interconnection-centric approach. Doing this will allow them to fully realize the benefits that digital services can provide for users.

The principles of today’s digital services

Digital businesses today are replacing rigid, physical IT infrastructures with more flexible and scalable custom API-centric applications that run on IaaS and PaaS infrastructures, while interacting with SaaS- and cloud-based digital services. They are increasingly connecting with services built by organizations exterior to their enterprise as part of their digital value chain to improve data accuracy, user experience and speed to market. They are reaping benefits in user productivity and the timely availability of business-critical information.

Following are some of basic design principles of a successful, integrated system of digital services:

  • Business processes are a collection of internal and external digital services
  • Business traffic occurs over direct private interconnections using common messaging protocols and policies.
  • Internal and external digital services (business processes) use APIs as the interface to the business and to interconnect applications
  • Systems provision, configure, connect, control and tear-down services, not people
  • Algorithms process data according to models and identifiable patterns
  • Compose before you build – leverage a digital ecosystem of partner solutions first

By aligning to these principles while integrating digital services, you can deliver many of the user benefits mentioned above. Get started with a cohesive approach to interconnections, which is the foundation for digital business ecosystem engagement.

Start with an Interconnection Oriented Architecture strategy

High expectations around QoE have forced companies to move digital services to the digital edge, closer to the people, processes and things that need them. Many of our customers are enhancing access to these services via an Interconnection Oriented Architecture (IOA®) strategy. An IOA strategy prescribes a proven and repeatable architectural framework that both enterprises and service providers can leverage to directly and securely connect people, locations, clouds and data.

The approach relegates a series of digital edge nodes that act as application communication control points and gateways. Each digital edge node (see diagram below) also serves as a place to colocate application functions that manage latency-sensitive or volume-driven workloads for improving users’ quality of experience and scale for digital business. Digital edge nodes can be deployed on Platform Equinix™ in any of more than 190 global Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers.

Digital Edge Node

Architecting for the edge requires digital businesses to localize application services in a digital edge node as a multicloud, multi-party business integration and security control points. Achieve this integration at various intersection points by following these IOA application blueprint design patterns (Steps 1-5):

  1. Implement API Management

The digital storefront is shifting from websites to APIs. You need a managed clearing house for APIs that you are producing, publishing and consuming-placed in an intersection point that is under your control. Implement API management first to leverage the world of digital services-create APIs, manage partner APIs, choreograph traffic, productize APIs, apply usage analytics and establish controls. APIs will be the building blocks of application assembly and lifecycle management.

  1. Plumb for Messaging

Digital services will have a mix of synchronous and asynchronous behaviors, and messaging pipelines will be needed to bring contextual cohesion to the flow across disparate services. Also, in the mash-up of clouds, networks and application architectures, failures will occur. The edge nodes will maintain the messaging and process states. Plumb your messaging infrastructure for application flows that can traverse the edge node aligned with traffic segmentation.

  1. Apply Distributed Coordination

As components become increasingly distributed across clouds and edge nodes, you need to scale your distributed coordination and configuration capabilities accordingly. Flipping the architecture and distributing components out to the edge means that coordination and configuration, including distributed governance, can be included as foundational components of the platform.

  1. Leverage Complex Event Processing

Beyond analytics, which previously focused on detecting anomalies, the platform must be able to infer complex events based on multiple data sources. This will become a crucial capability for digital business, as traffic flows are now business transaction flows and controllers need to know and audit what is happening. With event processing in place at the network edge, intersection points, security checkpoints, data services, APIs and messaging, you can manage the bigger picture.

  1. Introduce Predictive Algorithmic Services

Once you’re able to model the bigger picture, your digital platform must begin learning and recommending, as well as begin to take preemptive actions and make predictions. Having already determined that complex events are occurring, analytics will be expected to trigger appropriate automated actions. These capabilities must be commoditized and readily available throughout your organization, as an automated practice will need an equally automated action or response to an unforeseen event.

By implementing the IOA application design patterns associated with each of these five steps, you’ll be able to:

  • Measure and manage API usage and performance throughout the API lifecycle
  • Manage secure application messaging flows end-to-end, over secure, private segmented, low-latency interconnections
  • Scale distributed services globally and across multiple clouds without increasing management overhead
  • Identify meaningful events from network intrusion to fraud detection as well as data derived from traffic that traverses the edge node
  • Use algorithms to start learning how and where business capabilities can be improved (in the field or across partner exchanges)

Retail use case

Enterprises across the retail sector are working on this kind of functionality right now at Equinix. The disruptive effect of digital is being felt across the sector. Traditional IT methods of internal siloes and a lack of information integration across logistics, store operations and customer experience are creating business and technology constraints as illustrated below:

Business constraints: Technology constraints:
· Decreasing in-store traffic and increasing online competition are shifting volumes from in-store to competitor online sales

· Retailers need to competitively target consumers’ personal buying interests, requiring real-time insights into increasing amounts of customer data

· Multiple suppliers, retailers, social media and mobile marketers/advertisers need to converge and integrate online to create real-time advertising and personalized customer offers

· The lack of a scalable e-commerce architecture
is making the transition to online mobile shopping unsustainable· Slow communications between customer data and retailers impact customer personalization, satisfaction and loyalty· Centralized inventory control and distribution systems make it difficult to provide real-time supply chain product delivery

· High latency impacts the success of programmatic advertising bidding

However, these constraints become capabilities when infrastructures shift from siloed and fixed to integrated and dynamic. Equinix is helping retail customers in the domestic and international mass-distribution, fashion, food and luxury sectors realize the following outcomes:

Business-enabled: Technology enabled:
· More accessible online buying opportunities, integrated with in-store shopping, open new revenue channels and increase profitability

· Data-driven profiling that leverages customer and market insights can help retailers predict what consumers will want to buy

· Real-time, targeted customer advertising and personalized offers create greater customer loyalty and retention

· Re-architecting the network integrates more interactive and agile digital technologies

· Accelerated communications between data and analytics deliver greater real-time consumer insights and business intelligence

· Locating interconnection hubs close to stores, suppliers and distributors enables instant supply-chain collaboration

· Programmatic advertising bids and intelligence leads to a greater number of real-time advertisement placements


Localizing application services at the edge and building them into an integrated communication fabric using a global solution such as the Equinix Cloud Exchange™ Fabric results in digital advantage, while reducing risk and improving control.

For example:

  • Implementing API management, messaging and coordination on a secure, high-speed data fabric with low-latency access to clouds and digital partners eliminates all barriers to digital business success
  • The mesh of edge nodes acts as a distributed application bus that can become your enterprise neural network-putting control back in the center of the architecture
  • The quality of digital services increases for your users while allowing you to deliver solutions to market easier and faster

Learn more about the IOA Application Blueprint by visiting the IOA Knowledge Base, or if you’re ready to begin architecting for the digital edge now, contact an Equinix Global Solutions Architect.

You may also be interested in reading the Platform Equinix Vision.