This year’s Pacific Telecommunications Council’s (PTC) 40th anniversary theme, “Connecting Worlds,” spoke to the global nature of communications that is launching a new decade of connections in our industry. And I’m not just talking about the physical and virtual connections that carry the massive amounts of data being transported all over the world, but the interconnection between service providers and their customers that enable private data exchange, which is essential for global digital business to flourish in the decades to come.
Trend #1: A New World of Interconnected Services
Today’s network service providers (NSPs) are entering into a new era of competition and collaboration. No longer focused on providing enterprise customers a single capability, NSPs know they require strategic partnerships with cloud and other service providers to deliver the added-value services their customers need, and to fill in any skill-set or capability gaps. This is a major shift in the network services business. Since the emergence of cloud, NSPs have been trying to jump on this runaway train that has transformed their own and their customers’ modes of operation, only to realize that they need to pivot back to what they do best ꟷ providing connectivity. NSPs are now working in cooperation with cloud and other service providers to enable the fastest and safest access to their platforms for enterprise customers. As a result, NSPs and their partners are creating a new set of network services to better facilitate and orchestrate network/cloud integration.
For our NSP, cloud and other service provider customers, this integration is not so much a technical challenge as it is an opportunity to transform their back office business processes to support these new strategic partnerships. As a result, network, cloud, SaaS and content service providers need a consistent and reliable interconnection platform that allows them to dynamically collaborate and directly and securely exchange data between each other and their enterprise customers. This calls for a globally distributed, interconnected platform that enables end-to-end, physical and virtual integration with multiple cloud platforms, providing the processes and expertise to ensure that the applications that run on top of it are all cloud-ready.
This is where we come in as an interconnection aggregation and control point via our Equinix Cloud Exchange™ (ECX) Fabric, which physically and virtually connects our global, vendor-neutral Equinix International Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers. The ECX Fabric leverages the software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities built into ECX to enable any of our customers to dynamically connect their own infrastructure across Equinix IBX locations or connect to any other customer on the Equinix global platform. Our Professional Services organization also offers our customers a deep expertise in network and cloud integration best practices.
Trend #2: Expanding the Interconnection Footprint at the Edge
One critical concern for enterprises today is how their increasing data and application workloads are being internally and externally transported over their corporate networks. Businesses cannot rely on the “best effort” performance and security of the public internet. Legacy MPLS and VPN infrastructures were not designed to support the escalating workloads or real-time services, such as streaming media, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and security traffic that need to be transported over global networks. In addition to ensuring that data and workloads are moving effectively and efficiently, enterprises are struggling with delivering a higher quality of service (QoS) to a geographically distributed user base that expects on-demand access to applications and services in real-time wherever they are, from a variety of devices.
This higher demand on enterprise network infrastructure capacity to privately exchange business traffic requires companies to establish a larger interconnection footprint at the edge to ensure increased user QoS while providing proper security and compliance controls. For example, a recent market study published by Equinix, the Global Interconnection Index, predicts that by 2020, the Interconnection Bandwidth capacity used to scale digital business will grow to over 5,000 terabits (Tbps), outpacing the rate of growth of global IP traffic by nearly 2X and MPLS networks by 10X. And it is no surprise that the Index also projected that by 2020, over half the installed Interconnection Bandwidth capacity will be consumed by enterprises and service providers connecting to NSPs. And between 2016-2020, the fastest rate of Interconnection Bandwidth growth per annum will be from enterprises (160%) and services providers (70%) accessing cloud and IT service providers.
This means that service providers need to expand and scale interconnection capacity, close to users at the edge, to deliver high-quality services that can manage secure, private data access for their customers at all networking tiers (Type 1, Type 2, etc.), while meeting the exploding capacity demands that consumer over-the-top (OTT) services and business data traffic demand. Our more than 190 global IBX data centers provide the distributed footprint that service providers and their enterprise customers require in order to build out their IT presence worldwide. Platform Equinix also delivers the consistent physical reliability and security (99.9999% uptime) and the dynamic interconnection and connectivity solutions required to support the expansion of service providers’ IT and networking capabilities at the edge.
Trend #3: The Next Generation SDN/NFV
As software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) settle into the mainstream, what can we expect next from this evolving market? For our service provider and enterprise customers, the next logical step is to integrate and interconnect more vendors’ SDN and NFV capabilities into our interconnected global platform via the ECX Fabric. By doing this, service providers and enterprises can accelerate time-to-market for their products and services, as well as access new markets on a global scale. Cloud and other “as-a-service” platforms will be more readily accessible to enterprise customers, and their cloud-based applications and workloads can truly capitalize on the flexibility and agility of SDN- and NFV-based hybrid IT infrastructures.
We support vibrant ecosystems worldwide consisting of more than 1,600 networks, 2,750+ cloud and IT service providers, 800+ content and media providers, as well as vertical industries firms (e.g., financial services, online advertising, media and entertainment) on our global, interconnected platform. Service providers can leverage fast, SDN-based connectivity provisioning via the ECX Fabric to quickly onboard their customers wanting access to IT and business services over proximate, low-latency, high-bandwidth virtual connections.
Trend #4: Submarine Cable Systems Have a New Landing Point
New subsea cable deployment models are moving interconnection points off the beach and into the metro data center, where services providers can provide access to those systems for a greater number of customers. One of the latest subsea cable systems positioned to implement this model is the HAWAIKI carrier-neutral system. Once completed, HAWAIKI will be the highest cross-sectional capacity link between Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
Today, we host 14 subsea cable systems inside our global IBX data centers. And as more subsea cable capacity becomes available, we can tie into that capacity and distribute access to it right from our globally interconnected data centers via our dynamic ECX Fabric.
Trend #5: Tying Microcell Technology into Mobile and IoT Data Aggregation
Microcells, or mini-cell towers, provide limited range support for mobile connectivity to internet-enabled devices (e.g., smartphones, laptops, and tablets), especially in highly populated urban areas. However, when you take into consideration the Internet of Things (IoT) and how distributed and mobile those devices and sensors are, it is not clear that microcells can handle the mobile data aggregation that the IoT marketplace requires. What is needed are data aggregation points in “street furniture” (street lamps, utility poles, etc.) that can be tied into distributed interconnection hubs in large metros around the world.
We have a growing presence of mobile and IoT providers on Platform Equinix that can leverage our global footprint and distributed interconnection hubs and data aggregation points at the edge. We enable mobile and IoT companies to create a dynamic, interconnected ecosystem that leverages an Interconnection Oriented Architecture™ (IOA®) strategy to directly and securely connect people, locations, clouds, data and things. Our IOA Playbook and IOA Knowledge Base provide IT architects and developers proven and repeatable blueprints, patterns and tools derived from real-life implementations, for digital transformation at the digital edge.
Connecting to a services marketplace
Our close interactions with our more than 9,500 customers puts us in a unique position to match what enterprises are looking for with the solution providers who can best meet their needs. Our customers look to us to help them develop their strategic digital transformation strategies, deployment roadmaps and partnerships by using our broad IT expertise and “score-card” analytics. Our Equinix Marketplace allows enterprise buyers to find and quickly connect and collaborate with the best-match in service provider capabilities on Platform Equinix. The Marketplace’s Matchmaker feature identifies interconnection and colocation expansion opportunities based upon our database of current customers, which is updated dynamically and powered by big data and predictive analytics.
Download the IOA Playbook now, or learn how our Professional Services organization can help you connect to the service providers that will allow you to successfully transform your company for digital business, today and well into the future.