As I think back to 2007, when Equinix expanded to Europe, there were two catalysts for our growth. First, our business was maturing – our company was growing and we were building broader customer relationships. And second, we were presented with the opportunity to acquire IXEurope. As we gained better insights into what our customers wanted in Europe, it became clear that there was a global requirement for the caliber of colocation and interconnection capabilities we had been offering our customers in the U.S. since our founding in 1998.
Specifically, customers wanted the same data center quality and interconnection depth that they had in the U.S., but that they were not getting from other colocation and interconnection providers in Europe due to the market’s fragmentation. Our network and content provider clients wanted more coverage alternatives in Europe, which did not surprise us given the dynamic nature of their business. And at that time, high-frequency, low-latency trading was really taking off due to deregulation of the financial markets, which made it important for us to expand into Europe’s major financial centers where our financial services customers need to be.
Finally, the internet peering community was expanding in the U.S. via the Equinix Internet Exchange. Global businesses were working with exchanges spread across Europe, but those resources were inconsistent from city to city. There was a need for a commercial-class internet exchange platform, particularly in Paris. As always, our priority anywhere in the world is to give our customers what they need to succeed in the digital era.
EMEA expansion by acquisition
We built our EMEA business with a number of strategic acquisitions designed to put us in the markets where our customers wanted us. After the IXEurope deal, we acquired Virtu in the Netherlands in 2008. That gave us the final piece we needed to cover the four largest European markets: Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris. In 2012, we acquired Ancotel, which was a watershed moment because it gave us a leading interconnection hub in Frankfurt. We also acquired a newly built, but largely empty, data center in Dubai to launch our business in the Middle East.
The Telecity acquisition in 2016 brought us into Dublin, Stockholm, Milan, Helsinki and Manchester, the top markets where our customers wanted us to expand. We gained a great deal of talent with the Telecity employees, and our customers benefit from their expertise. The Telecity acquisition enabled us to grow our capacity in the largest metros and add more enterprise customers, as well as increase our interconnection density. It also gave us presence in emerging markets such as Warsaw, Istanbul and Sofia, where we see excellent growth prospects. In 2017, the Itconic acquisition enabled us to expand our interconnection platform to Spain and Portugal.
This journey of European expansion by acquisition and sustained investment ultimately built the regional coverage our customers needed and create interconnection density in current and emerging markets. Along the way, our competitors were treading cautiously based on worries of economic uncertainty. Our confidence about our industry’s growth prospects fueled our expansion and acquisitions, and that boldness has paid off as we are the clear market leader in Europe.
The European difference and growth potential
There are real differences in how European companies are approaching digital transformation as compared to the U.S. In Europe, businesses rely more on systems integrators, such as Accenture and Orange Business Services, to help them through their digital transformations. These large system integrators are drawn to partner with Equinix, given that we are also a large, global company with similar expertise and knowledge, and we are building channel partnerships with the integrators to drive our growth with enterprise customers.
Cloud adoption happened faster in the U.S. than Europe, but we are catching up, and enterprises in EMEA want to work with a large global provider experienced in cloud implementations like Equinix. As more European companies adopt cloud technologies, we see a major growth opportunity, particularly with the Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric™ (ECX Fabric™), which helps businesses create globally interconnected hybrid and multicloud infrastructures. Most cloud providers don’t have a presence in every European market, so businesses in EMEA are excited about the prospect of connecting to all of the major cloud platforms across the ECX Fabric.
One area where Europe is well ahead of rest of the world is data privacy. The fact that Equinix can provide local, country-specific coverage and presence in so many markets across Europe aligns with the evolving trends and regulations in data and personal privacy and security.
Europe’s geography, where so many countries operate within a large economic zone, also makes it distinct. Digital technology and the internet allow for greater levels of economic integration across Europe and companies can now commercially interconnect in ways they never could before. Interconnection is the catalyst for global commerce enablement, which is why we recently launched the Equinix Internet Exchange in a number of new markets: Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Madrid, Lisbon, Milan, Stockholm, Helsinki and Manchester.
Finally, Europe has led the world in committing to environmentally sound business practices, and Equinix is working to ensure our energy comes from renewable sources around the globe.
The Equinix global digital transformation journey
Over the last 20 years, Equinix has been a catalyst for global digital transformation. This is especially true of our time in EMEA so far, and it remains central to our future vision to continue to build our global interconnection and colocation platform in the countries where we operate in EMEA.
It is incredibly gratifying to see Equinix’s impact wherever I go. I often wear an Equinix shirt or jacket or carry an Equinix backpack when I travel, and people from all over the world come up to me, introduce themselves, and tell me stories about how someone at Equinix went above and beyond to meet their needs. Helping our customers achieve their goals is the core principle on which this company was built. We need to sustain that relentless customer focus and commitment as we grow and become even more globally distributed.
In Equinix’s 20 years, we’ve brought a lot of expertise and knowledge to this global phenomenon of digital transformation. Traveling with us on this path, our customers have benefitted not only from our expertise and the way we run our business to serve them, but also from how we’ve helped them build their businesses. That’s extremely satisfying to see.
Looking back over my 12 years at Equinix, I feel proud and fortunate to be a part of the team we’ve assembled and the value we bring to our customers. As I walk through our global Equinix data centers and see the impact our customers are making on their markets and the world because of our company, I am in a state of awe, and incredibly inspired and excited about what we’ll do together next.