A Global Platform for Innovation, 20 Years in the Making

Platform Equinix’s reach (and our customers) inspire new products and services

Equinix SY4 in Sydney, Australia

Even before we opened our first data center 20 years ago, Equinix recognized one industry reality: Scale wins.

And by the time I came to Equinix – now 10 years ago – we had expanded our portfolio to 40 International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers.

Today, we have 200 IBX data centers in 52 metros around the world underpinned by an unrivaled interconnection platform that can take our customers everywhere they need to be. In an increasingly connected world, our customers are empowered to conduct digital business through Platform Equinix®.

As we pause to look back during our 20th anniversary celebrations, it’s exciting for me as chief product officer to also look forward and imagine how we will continue to expand and evolve the platform we’ve spent 20 years building. Our globally interconnected platform and the special relationship we have with our customers uniquely allows us to co-innovate new products and services with them as we aim to solve the challenges posed and opportunities presented in the hybrid multicloud era. Equinix is a place where customer-inspired innovation thrives.

Igniting innovation

In its first decade, Equinix’s top priority was achieving scale. When I joined in 2008, originally as chief information officer (CIO), we had just reached Europe and were expanding rapidly to meet the growing demand for colocation spurred by internet growth and an increased need for network peering.

But as we continued to expand our data center footprint, two things happened that began to shape a new potential future for us beyond pure colocation:

  1. The emergence of cloud. Cloud disrupted the world. It made CIOs everywhere rethink their IT architectures, and as a result their data center and network strategies. As more and more application workloads migrated to the cloud, IT architects had to examine who they were connected to and where, because their flows were no longer confined by their corporate data centers. And as more and more business digitized and moved to the cloud, traditional IT suddenly needed to scale and perform in a digital world. We knew that with the right product strategy and a thriving IT service provider ecosystem “at” Equinix, we could create a global interconnection platform to help companies make that digital transformation happen.

 

  1. The enterprise imperative. Equinix’s early customers were largely network service providers who needed a neutral place to come together and directly and securely exchange traffic. But as the internet grew and erased the traditional enterprise boundaries of time, location and device, digital collaboration became commonplace, influential industry ecosystems emerged, and business models became interconnected. Enterprises needed new tools to thrive in this new connected world. And we got very focused on how to answer that enterprise need.

Customer-inspired milestones

As we got more focused on developing products that would help our customers accelerate their digital transformations on Platform Equinix, we kept one guiding question front of mind, “What do our customers really need?” To get to the answer, we asked a lot of questions and did a lot listening – even when that customer was us.

Equinix-on-Equinix is a program we started when I was CIO, and it aimed to demonstrate to customers that we were the best users of our own technology. We tried to put ourselves in the shoes of the customer – and in this case we were a growing enterprise that wanted to operate globally. We asked a variety of questions, like what we would centralize, what we would put in regions, and how we would connect it all together. Then we laid out a network architecture, and we found that if we distributed nodes that offered direct internet and cloud access, we achieved a much more performant and cost-effective network. Those nodes eventually became the basis of our Performance Hub™ offering, and more than 3,000 have been deployed to customers since it was first launched in 2014.

Equinix Cloud Exchange™ (ECX) was also introduced in 2014 and conceived in heavy consultation with our customers, especially Amazon. Our co-ideation and deep collaboration with Amazon led to a breakthrough capability to enable direct, real-time, many-to-many interconnection with clouds in the same metro. It was a game-changer for us, because it attracted top enterprises, service providers and carriers who were hungry to aggregate many virtual interconnections over a single physical port and do that in several markets around the world. While the uptake on ECX has exceeded our expectations, we listened further to our customers who asked us to provide ubiquitous remote access to these clouds over our global interconnection platform. This customer inspiration, coupled with our own technology push, led to our recently launched ECX Fabric, which has again exceeded our expectations. We are live in Europe and the U.S. now, and we will be live in APAC this quarter and globally at the end of the year.

Equinix SmartKey was another product inspired by customer insights, this time after Google shared some intriguing thoughts during a meeting of our Technology Advisory Board. SmartKey offers multicloud-ready encryption key management service as-a-service, and given our position in the center of it all, we are uniquely positioned to offer this service to enterprises and service providers alike.

Interestingly, some of our best innovations aren’t always things we sell. For instance, we revamped the Equinix Customer Portal to make it more user-friendly, and now it handles about 50,000 orders monthly. Our Global Solutions Architects advise customers on the right architectures, deployments and services for them, while an Interconnection Oriented Architecture® (IOA®) is a set of best practices customers can follow to do business in an ever-changing digital world.

Going forward boldly

I believe Equinix is positioned for a future that’s just as exciting as our past. The cloud is a game-changer, but enterprises are still in the early stages of moving to it. Businesses won’t abandon private cloud, and no single public cloud will win, either. That means hybrid multicloud architectures are the future of IT, and Equinix is designed to enable them. But how do we make sure the product and services we develop are exactly what our customers need? Well, we’ll need to keep doing it together.

First, we dream together with our customers about where digital business is headed, and how they must evolve their digital architectures. Then, we decide together how to translate those needs into products and services. Finally, we develop together the products and solutions that can help them succeed.

And along the way, we need to be careful not to rest on our laurels and think that our past successes guarantee fast future wins. We need to be willing to think big, take some chances, and be patient when things don’t pan out. Luckily, Equinix has never lacked for vision, and innovation is fueled by vision, a willingness to try and the ability to fail fast. And of course, no fear.

As I reflect on Equinix’s 20 years and my time here, I know we’re standing on the shoulders of giants. I feel a humble gratitude for the insight and wisdom of those that came before me. And I have a deep excitement about the ways we can help our customers lead as digital business takes us all to places we never imagined we’d go. Onward and upward!

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