Digital Transformation Strategy Complete-Now What? A view for Microsoft Ignite

Bob Breynaert
Digital Transformation Strategy Complete-Now What?  A view for Microsoft Ignite

At Equinix, we often see digital transformation as application and IT transformation. According to Bain & Company, digital transformation can be broken down into four components: Strategy, Business Model, Enablers and Orchestration.

We frequently see IT teams that own the Orchestration phase are not highly engaged in the Strategy and Business Model components. Nor are they empowered to align business units to cleanly execute the IT projects that deliver transformation-applications, IT systems, operating models, people and culture. We see this is a factor in the underperformance, or even failure, of many digital transformation initiatives.

Success requires transforming the operating model, people and culture. One or more of these components will cause the others to lag behind. Therefore, during Orchestration IT must have the agility to shift projects based on the transformation pace of the other critical components.

First, IT must categorize applications on whether they can be decoupled from infrastructure and can run on cloud fabric, as IaaS or PaaS services, etc., or alternatively, whether they are stranded in legacy infrastructure until they are able to run in hyperscale cloud. Additionally, IT should determine if workloads can be migrated to the cloud over existing networks or whether network optimization is required. Network optimization is often overlooked and contributes to project failure.

At Equinix, we assist enterprise customers with network optimization as part of overall digital transformation. Interconnection strategy is critical to this. Interconnection is an essential building block for integrating and controlling this new hybrid IT environment and creating a digital-ready business. An interconnection strategy enables a company to achieve key business objectives. Read how you can drive digital success with interconnection and more on Interconnections – The Equinix Blog.

At Equinix, we partner with our hyperscale cloud partners to help enterprise customers digitally transform. Equinix Professional Services offers guidance and proven solutions to help enterprise customers optimize data center architecture through assessing, enabling, migrating, planning, designing, testing and deploying IT infrastructure, networks and cloud architectures.

When we sit down with IT decision makers and discuss a digital transformation strategy, five questions arise, all of which require a well-developed interconnection strategy.

  1. Not all my workloads can be moved freely to the hyperscale cloud. Will my existing network allow efficient lift-and-shift or high-performance hybrid cloud architectures?
  2. Will my existing network enable large data set transfer to the hyperscale cloud in days (not months)?
  3. Can I perform cloud-to-cloud migration without time-consuming and costly systems integration?
  4. How do I build high-performance applications and infrastructure solutions to support sovereign workloads running in hybrid cloud architectures?
  5. How do I curate legacy applications and infrastructure and still cut costs, as well as prepare them for transitioning to hyperscale cloud?

Digital Transformation Delivery-Breaking it Down

Below you’ll find information on how Platform Equinix® and an Interconnection Oriented Architecture® (IOA®) can help accelerate digital transformation. An IOA is a proven, repeatable architectural framework to directly and securely interconnect people, locations, clouds, data and things. Platform Equinix and an IOA enable enterprise customers to:

Simplify Your Network: Localize, segment and optimize network traffic flows, bringing your WAN and LAN together at the edge.

Create Security Guardrails: Strengthen security services and govern multiparty flows with boundaries and inspection zones.

Establish a Data Fabric: Stabilize data requirements and balance access with protection while governing data movement.

Integrate via Intersection Points: Assemble application services, as a multicloud, multiparty business and integration points.

At Equinix, we find digital transformation is achieved through projects that align to five use cases that require Interconnection as a key enabler. Given the Microsoft Ignite conference happening this week, here are examples based on our integration of Platform Equinix with Microsoft Azure services.

  1. Lift-and-shift and cloud-to-cloud migration: moving an application or operation from one environment to another-on-premises to cloud, or cloud-to-cloud without redesigning the app. In the lift-and-shift approach, certain workloads and tasks can be moved from on-premises or colocated storage to the cloud, or data operations might be transferred from one data center to another.
  2. Hybrid cloud architectures: require infrastructure on-premises or in colocation to be interconnected to one or more hyperscale clouds.
  3. Large data set import: workloads and data sets that are too voluminous to be moved to the hyperscale cloud over a reasonable timeframe, even over a well-optimized network. The example below is for Microsoft Azure Data Box Family.
  4. Legacy workload curation and data center migration: workloads that cannot be moved to the hyperscale cloud and are curated on-premises or in colocation until the applications are modernized and moved to hyperscale public cloud. The example below is for Equinix IBX data centers and colocation services interconnected to Microsoft Azure over Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric (ECX Fabric™) and Azure ExpressRoute.

Lift-and-Shift/Cloud-to-Cloud Migration

Many IT organizations start their digital transformation journey by lifting and shifting cloud-ready workloads to the hyperscale cloud. Lift-and-shift projects are often easier to deliver than other use cases, take less time and provide IT leadership initial successes that build support with executive leadership for proceeding with more complex phases of the digital transformation journey.

Equinix Professional Services (EPS) Cloud employs a phased migration approach to ensure that business and compliance requirements are delivered, risks are mitigated, and financial targets are met-all with little or no impact to ongoing operations. Equinix services that enable successful lift-and-shift projects include Equinix Performance Hub and ECX Fabric™ delivered in combination with Microsoft ExpressRoute, on Platform Equinix (see diagram below). Equinix is a key ExpressRoute partner of Microsoft with 22 ExpressRoute locations worldwide, plus 6 U.S. National Cloud and 1 Germany Cloud locations.


  • Reduced cost, increased throughput, faster execution.
  • Customized migration roadmap, required resources and actionable items.
  • Seamless and secure connectivity with on-premises data and applications.
  • Proprietary tools and partner technologies to move workloads to target cloud platform.
  • Complete cost transparency and defined deliverables to minimize risk and maximize return.
  • Systematic testing, project documentation, training and knowledge transfer.

Equinix IOA and Microsoft ExpressRoute for migration of SAP HANA to Azure


Hybrid Cloud Architectures: Azure Stack and Developing Applications, Running Production Workloads

Azure Stack is Microsoft’s hybrid cloud platform that allows organizations to deliver Azure services from their own data centers that is consistent with public cloud Azure.

Equinix and Microsoft have developed and delivered an Azure Stack hybrid cloud solution architecture that optimizes hybrid application performance. The Azure Stack hybrid architecture is based on Microsoft ExpressRoute, Equinix Performance Hub and ECX Fabric™ on Platform Equinix (see diagram below).


  • Low-latency, high-bandwidth hybrid architecture for a true approximation of hybrid application performance at production.
  • More applications that can be supported by the hybrid environment from low-latency interconnection provided by Platform Equinix.
  • Greater range of use cases, including scaling “burst” capacity during peak times.
  • Faster rate of production applications deployed on your Azure Stack environment.

Equinix and Microsoft Azure Stack with ExpressRoute for hybrid extension of Azure and fast, agile application development


Large Data Set Import to Azure

Equinix has engaged with Microsoft to deliver a data import solution to Azure using Microsoft Data Box Family. Customers can use a variety of storage devices to import large data sets to Azure. The solution involves the air/ground transport of the storage device to an Equinix IBX data center at the digital edge, local to the customer. The storage device is deployed in an Equinix Performance Hub® on Platform Equinix and interconnected to Azure over ECX Fabric and Azure ExpressRoute (see diagram below).


  • Increased performance compared to using the internet.
  • Reduced large data set transfer time by leveraging proximate high-bandwidth, low-latency connections to Azure.
  • Faster data transport to Azure, enabling more expedient data analysis.
  • Faster transition rate from pilot to production-key in the highly competitive connected car space.
  • Higher security for critical data through dedicated, private connectivity.

Equinix and Microsoft ExpressRoute for large data set import to Azure


Legacy Workload Curation and Data Center Migration

Many enterprises seek workload curation close to their data centers to reduce CAPEX and OPEX, but find they have many workloads that cannot lift and shift to hyperscale cloud.

Enterprise customers use Equinix IBX data centers to curate workloads that are mid-way to the cloud. Colocation with Equinix provides CAPEX and OPEX relief while enabling control and migration to hyperscale cloud. Equinix has completed 1,200+ migrations over the last 10 years, which gives us a specialized understanding of the complexities of a data center move. The critical elements of a successful migration include:

  • Assessment of facility, inventory, cabling, applications and processes.
  • Design work to align relocation strategy with move objectives, downtime tolerances and risk mitigation.
  • Replacement valuation coverage (RVC).
  • Developing move plans, floor layouts, equipment inventory, rack elevations and cable mapping.
  • Asset swaps/short-term rentals.
  • Certified data eradication.

Enterprise customers are geographically dispersed and require multiple data centers in a diverse set of markets. Equinix has 200 International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers in 52 metro areas in 24 countries. We provide access to vital ecosystems where major networks, enterprises and business partners interconnect to each other. Customers can access more than 1,800+ available networks. We have connected our global footprint of Equinix IBX data centers using ECX Fabric, which directly, securely and dynamically connects distributed infrastructure and digital ecosystems via global, software-defined interconnection. ECX Fabric enables connectivity to Azure from multiple markets, even in regions where there is not an Azure Market.

Equinix is uniquely positioned to provide these benefits to Azure customers. We are Microsoft’s most widely deployed edge data center partner worldwide with presence in major markets in North America, South America, Europe, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Australia.


Bringing It All Together

Executive teams often expect that digital transformation will be fast and agile, but they often do not provide budget or headcount to meet these expectations. Digital transformation at its core is the successful orchestration and delivery of multiple IT projects. Platform Equinix, through an Interconnection Oriented Architecture and global footprint of IBX data centers, provides an optimal location to anchor an enterprise digital transformation initiative. It provides IT leadership the solutions to lift and shift workloads to hyperscale cloud, create highly performant and secure hybrid cloud architectures, move large datasets to the cloud and conduct cloud-to-cloud migrations. Platform Equinix also enables IT to reprioritize projects or shift executions caused by the realities of IT-the pace of application transformation, people readiness and underfunding of projects.


Equinix & Microsoft

Platform Equinix provides edge IT and interconnection capabilities to Azure services, including high-performance, reliable hybrid clouds at the digital edge, high-speed import of large data sets , lift-and-shift workloads and curation of legacy applications.

Equinix is Microsoft’s most widely deployed digital edge partner, with a global network of PoPs and Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute locations deployed within Equinix IBX data centers in 24 global metros worldwide. Microsoft is also Equinix’s largest user of ECX Fabric.

We are currently working with Azure product teams to align our interconnection solutions to optimize Azure Stack deployments for customers with Equinix Performance Hub, Equinix Data Hub™ and ECX Fabric. This creates a highly optimized low-latency, high-bandwidth hybrid IT architecture for many key use cases.

Equinix’s data import service to Azure enables customers to import large data sets directly and securely into Azure through ECX Fabric and Azure ExpressRoute. We are engaged with Microsoft and customers in key verticals such as automotive to decrease data import time and enable faster data analytics for connected car and other key use cases.

Join us in Orlando for Microsoft Ignite, September 24-28, 2018, to learn more about these and other Equinix and Microsoft hybrid cloud scenarios. Stop by our booth (#1705) for a presentation or to discuss how to optimize your digital transformation.

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Bob Breynaert Former Global Managing Director, Strategic Alliances
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