In our last blog on blockchain technologies, we discussed how enterprises will complement their existing IT infrastructures with public and private blockchain systems to improve the efficiency of their digital businesses. We expect this transformation to take place over the next decade, so your company still has some time to really evaluate the requirements, relevancy and impact of blockchain on your business.
Blockchain is one of those exciting innovative technologies that plays right into the Equinix DNA. We see a clear path on how Equinix will contribute to its successful adoption and deployment by enabling the global reach of blockchain systems, interconnecting blockchain supplier and consumer ecosystems, and integrating new blockchain technologies with existing legacy infrastructures.
A short review of blockchain technology
Blockchain technology is a form of distributed database technology with special properties such as:
- Data copies are dispersed amongst all network participants therefore there is no single source of data or control point (no single super-user/admin)
- Its records are not updatable (append-only ledger)
- It has a single global logical schema that is stored via multiple distributed physical copies
Essentially blockchain can be thought of as an application-level network whose nodes correspond to distributed physical copies of a ledger. Applications that inherently require geographic distribution, performance and security still have the same low-latency, high-bandwidth requirements in the blockchain world that many digital applications and services require today. Private, low-latency connections between strategic business partners for private data exchange, bypassing the public internet, will be a critical requirement for blockchain distributed ledger security and quality of service. According to Gary Davis, McAfee chief consumer security evangelist:
“It rides on the internet, so by definition you’re putting a technology on something that is proven to be very vulnerable, very prone to attack.”
An emerging blockchain technology ecosystem
The emergence of horizontal and vertical blockchain suppliers, who will provide the necessary platforms and services to the enterprise, is already underway and will form a new blockchain technology ecosystem. But before any of them can add value to the industry, these providers will need to be able to aggregate blockchain traffic for multiple enterprises in an expedient and safe way around the world. These blockchain providers will aggregate traffic belonging to multiple enterprises and enterprises will connect to more than one blockchain network. This, will attract the enterprises to place their legacy IT systems close to provider blockchain network nodes.
Equinix’s role in blockchain adoption
Equinix is in a unique position to play a vital role in the blockchain trend by leveraging its 200 data centers in over 52 metros around the world. Over the last two decades, we’ve optimized and enhanced our vendor-neutral, Platform Equinix™ for businesses (i.e., networking, internet, cloud, financial services, online advertising, and media and entertainment) to directly and securely aggregate and exchange data traffic.
Platform Equinix and the Equinix Cloud Exchange (ECX) Fabric™ dramatically simplify how companies enable private interconnection by allowing them to customize their connectivity with employees, partners and customers via a customer portal or a rich set of APIs that leverage programmable software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities. Equinix will leverage both the technologies and capabilities it has created over the years, as well as its vast experience in creating ecosystems and networks of participants.
The highly distributed architecture for ledgers and blockchains require geographic concentration points to optimize consensus and provide highly secure connectivity. Similarly, Equinix is committed to attracting providers to deploy their blockchain network nodes at Equinix and create a blockchain ecosystem for its enterprise customers to access and leverage for their own specific uses, whatever they may be.
This dynamic, geographically distributed environment is tailor-made for enterprises to place their legacy IT systems close to blockchain providers’ network nodes across a globally interconnected platform. As a result of the interconnection solutions and services we support today and those we are planning in the future, we will contribute to the blockchain arena in the following areas:
- Enabling globally interconnected, public and private blockchain ecosystems
Today, horizontal and vertical blockchain providers can derive greater value by deploying their blockchain nodes proximate to our vibrant horizontal and vertical industry ecosystem communities in our IBX data centers, as well as leverage our global footprint to access blockchain participants worldwide. Most enterprises will need to participate in multiple blockchain networks, just as they consume multiple cloud and network services, therefore it is advantageous for them to place their IT systems on an interconnected platform with dense, globally distributed blockchain provider ecosystems for transferring their data between blockchain provider ledgers and their legacy IT systems. Platform Equinix will be the catalyst empowering these interconnected blockchain ecosystems to form.
- Providing interconnection and colocation data center services to blockchain providers and consumers worldwide
We provide interconnection and colocation solutions to blockchain providers and consumers on our worldwide platform today. There are blockchain providers who are deploying on top of hyperscalers such as Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft at Equinix. There are also blockchain providers who are deploying at Equinix because they want full control over their infrastructure for performance, scalability and security reasons. All of these blockchain providers are coming to Equinix to take advantage of our global footprint and gain proximity the existing ecosystems, such as networks and clouds. They also want to leverage our ECX Fabric to enable their blockchain solutions to reach everywhere, connect everyone and integrate everything.
- Leveraging blockchain for our solutions/services
At Equinix, enterprises consume network, security, storage and other services from various vendors. In the future, we envision a blockchain ledger as a critical component for both expediting multi-party transactions, as well as providing a secure, private meeting place while leveraging new innovative products like Equinix SmartKey to help accelerate adoption.
We anticipate that blockchain networks will gather at Equinix and a blockchain ecosystem will form, but it is still early. In any case, we want to make it easy for all blockchain providers to deploy their distributed blockchain nodes on our global platform and offer their capabilities “as-a-service” to their customers at scale. For consumers, we want to provide them global opportunities to easily and quickly access blockchain providers’ solutions and services. The details of these solutions and services will be further described in future Interconnection articles as we roll them out.
Watch this space for more to come. In the meantime, learn more about our ECX Fabric by reading our Platform Equinix Vision paper.