Countries around the world have been taking extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, asking citizens to stay home except for when work cannot be completed remotely (and even then, only in some instances) and in case of emergencies. As people around the world are being forced to change the way they live to protect themselves and others from the new coronavirus, businesses are also having to adopt new policies and ways of working in the interest of public health.
Our entire industry is considered “critical infrastructure” by many government entities, and we must all recognize the inherent responsibility we have to maintain operations throughout these uncertain times. As the threat of COVID-19 spreads globally, Equinix firmly believes that the data center industry has a responsibility to protect the collective health, safety and well-being of all those who work for us, with us, or who come into contact with us in our daily lives. This is why we have taken the action to restrict access to our data centers in the following markets:
- France, Germany, Italy, Spain—effective 3/23/2020
- United Kingdom—effective 3/31/2020
In these countries, we are restricting access to our data centers for visitors, customers, customer contractors and non-critical Equinix employees, contractors and vendors for anything other than critical and essential work. Customers with special permissions, and upon presentation of government-designated critical infrastructure status, will be permitted to schedule a Work Visit for critical work.
Elsewhere in the world—aside from our locations in Asia-Pacific—entry is by appointment only until further notice. During this time, all Equinix data centers remain fully operational,with services and staff on-site to assist those who have limited or restricted access.
Protecting our employees, customers and partners
We have done this because the safety of our employees, customers and partners is of the utmost importance to us, as is maintaining the smooth operation of our services, not least for the vital infrastructure supporting the health, financial, government and technology sectors that are critical to maintaining public health and stabilizing the economy at this challenging time.
We are also working hard to ensure the large number of people around the world adapting to remote working can do so seamlessly, and that enterprises can quickly ramp up their digital infrastructure by adding new locations, connections and applications. It is more important than ever for businesses to have the ability to deliver services virtually and flexibly.
Supporting our communities
As part of our commitment to tackling this pandemic, we are now donating Platform Equinix® services such as Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric™ (ECX Fabric™), Equinix Internet Exchange™ and other interconnection services. These free services are being offered to key providers of healthcare, education, government and other essential services like food supply chains, COVID-19 research organizations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), in order to alleviate critical IT bottlenecks and scale interconnection needs when they are most needed.
We are also encouraging customers to leverage our data center technicians via Smart Hands®. This is our on-site, operational support service for remote management, installation and troubleshooting of data center equipment that runs around the clock. For any customers in affected markets who cannot physically access our data centers, leveraging this service will ensure they can maintain control of their mission-critical infrastructure. For business-critical requests that would normally entail a customer site visit, we will evaluate fee waivers for our Smart Hands service on a case-by-case basis.
Now more than ever, it is imperative that our industry works together to not only support the global economy, but to do all we can ourselves to limit the spread of COVID-19. If we do that, we can ensure business continuity of our customers and partners around the world who are relying on us in this period of increased digital disruption and play a critical part in fighting this pandemic.
Raouf Abdel is EVP Global Operations at global data center and interconnection company Equinix