How Direct Peering is Transforming Collaboration

The power and proliferation of private interconnection in the public and private sector

Don Wiggins

The notion of privately peering with one or more partners is certainly not a new one. For decades, service providers have leveraged direct, one-to-one peering platforms to exchange traffic in a collaborative ecosystem to extend their collective services across partner networks. Since the inception of the internet, it’s actually been fairly commonplace for service providers to establish geo-strategic, carrier-neutral peering locations where this critical exchange of traffic can take place, even among head to head competitors. As the mechanism for extending their reach across the globe, this approach continues to proliferate today. Underlying technologies such as software-defined networking (SDN), cloud computing and evolving architectural methodology have removed the traditional barriers of inter network collaboration with proximal, private interconnection between peering partners.

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Internal and external collaboration drives the need for private peering

Inter network connectivity between two entities requiring collaboration has traditionally been implemented as a multitude of internal and external network gateways, firewalls, etc. to move traffic from one agency to another. This was often fraught with excessive amounts of infrastructure for both that introduced additional cost, complexity, bad actor targets, latency and a host of other diminishing returns. Establishing private peering with one another can significantly reduce many of these legacy entrapments and reduce the attack surface by streamlining traffic flows, while still gaining access to the many peripheral services (clouds, networks, content, etc.) that comprise the modern networks of today.

How private interconnection fills the gap

Equinix, a pioneer in the carrier-neutral peering platform business has taken this approach to a whole new level. Over the past twenty years, we have continued to place a premium on the importance and enablement of private interconnection, making significant investments to that end, beginning with the deployment of a next-generation SDN-enabled MPLS network. This customer-provisioned private peering (Layer 2) transport service makes 2,900+ cloud and IT service providers and a growing number of SDN-enabled partner networks locally or remotely accessible across the globe within minutes. Verizon’s Software Defined Interconnect or “SDI” service, for example, is tightly integrated with Equinix Cloud Exchange FabricTM (ECX FabricTM) and represents one of many to follow that will provide ubiquitous dynamic network to network interconnection (DNNI) services globally.

As I discussed in my previous blog, “Why Proximity at the Edge Is Essential for Effective Hybrid Multicloud”, ECX Fabric is a software-defined interconnection solution that enables Equinix customers and ecosystem participants to securely establish connectivity between one another (or across their own multiple locations) within minutes via a secure portal. Available in 50+ markets today, ECX Fabric enables supply chain partners, collaborative agencies, cloud services, and network services to privately connect to one another via a self-provisioned interconnection service. Whether it’s between Chicago and Dallas or Toronto to Sofia, customers can provision connectivity up to 100G in capacity in about 10 minutes.

A growing number of industry verticals – healthcare, finance, energy, government and others – are leveraging this platform for private intra- and inter- agency peering. Consider a scenario where one government agency has a recurring requirement to acquire and share large quantities of data with one or more other downstream mission partners – traditionally done over limited cost-prohibitive dark fiber and/or capacity constrained long-haul VPN. Persistent and/or non-persistent inter agency connectivity can be now be established within minutes to facilitate similar mission requirements.

Establishing a localized “last mile” connection from corporate headquarters to the nearest Equinix hub can immediately extend access to partners and services across the globe. A map with available and forthcoming ECX Fabric locations is illustrated below:

Source: Equinix

To exploit this capability, 2,900+ cloud and IT services providers have geo-strategically placed “access nodes” to their backend services in the locations above. This enables Equinix customers to access the “edge” of hundreds of cloud and network service providers (NSPs) from a single network transport service.

How private interconnection benefits collaboration

What does this mean for public and private sector collaboration? Regardless of the industry, impactful collaboration depends on secure, frictionless data sharing via thoughtful multi-tenant governance, subsequent supply chain efficiency and the deployment of application-centric, regionally distributed architectures. Simply put, this is the ability to leverage a modernized yet long standing and proven methodology for private bilateral/multilateral peering and collaboration with partners and services. More specifically, a cloud optimized WAN with private interconnection via ECX Fabric can address immediate concerns with:

  • Constrained point-to-point connectivity
  • Inability to quickly scale up or down and/or pivot across multiple CSPs and NSPs
  • Poor visibility of network costs
  • Inefficient bandwidth due to backhauling traffic
  • Performance degradation from high latency for next-gen/mission critical applications

Moving from a core network-centric, centralized architecture to an application centric, regionally distributed approach results in the following benefits:

  • Network optimization
  • Regionally distributed hybrid and/or multi cloud – optimal alignment of services with consumers
  • Distributed security, distributed data – north/south security boundary approach has been proven inadequate for regionally distributed service ingress
  • Secure, efficient exchange of assets and communications on a global scale between two or more entities

Much akin to moving from a neighborhood of autonomous residences to a trusted, highly secure gated community of collaborative communities, business partners and mission collaborators can overcome IT barriers to cooperation with private interconnection. Private interconnection addresses the traditional pitfalls of costly, latency and infrastructure intensive inter network communications with a streamlined, mission-responsive peering model that enhances both security and performance through proximal adjacency and simplified communications.

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Don Wiggins
Don Wiggins Senior Global Solutions Architect at Equinix