How Network Scalability and Capacity Empower Your Remote Workforce

Technology leaders from Equinix, Dropbox, Netflix and Zoom discuss how they’re managing the increase in digital demand.

Bill Long

The impact of COVID-19 has accelerated digital use cases around the world. Applications that industry insiders anticipated would ramp up over the next couple of years are suddenly going full throttle. The rapid adoption of unified communications and collaboration (UCC) applications and online services for remote working, virtual events, and streaming content and media were increasingly steadily even before COVID-19, introducing shifts that pose new challenges for major digital service providers.

I recently participated in a timely webinar sponsored by Kentik called, “How Leading Companies Support Remote Work and Digital Experience,” where I had a chance to discuss these shifts alongside Equinix customers including Dzmitry Markovich, Sr. Director of Engineering at Dropbox; Dave Temkin, VP of Network and Systems Infrastructure at Netflix; and Alex Guerrero, Sr. Manager of SaaS Operations at Zoom. Moderator, Avi Freedman and Co-founder and CEO of Kentik guided us through a dynamic discussion about what it takes to support a remote workforce with a high-quality digital experience.

Webinar: How Leading Companies Support Remote Work and Digital Experience

How are Dropbox, Equinix, Netflix, and Zoom scaling their networks and services, especially during COVID-19? Hear from network leaders at these companies during this panel discussion.

Watch the Webinar Now
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Partners like Equinix have been great in getting cross connects provisioned quickly where we needed them in order to get interconnects beefed up in certain markets. Dave Temkin, Vice President of Networks, Netflix

As panelists, we all acknowledged the sudden uptick we’ve seen in digital service demand across both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) interactions worldwide. We discussed how our IT infrastructures have needed to scale quickly – not only to support business-critical applications that power an escalating remote workforce, but also to provide access to much needed personal entertainment in this challenging time.

All the panelists agreed that it was more important than ever for businesses to have the flexibility to provision resources on-demand. For most organizations, that means quickly adding new network connections, moving IT services to locations closer to remote users, and automatically provisioning new compute and storage resources to support business-critical applications.

The good news? We all see digital businesses taking the right steps to architect and provision IT infrastructures to gain the added agility, automation and capacity they need to scale up quickly.

We use ECX Fabric to increase bandwidth across the board… at this point it’s just go for it, get as much bandwidth as you can … Senior Manager, SaaS Operations, Zoom Video Communications

Meeting unprecedented demand, really fast

Over the last couple of months, there’s been a lot of volatility in network traffic running through global Equinix Internet Exchanges across multiple markets worldwide. Our panel discussed the fact that their infrastructure is scaling really well given the sudden influx of new traffic from multiple users over various networks. At Equinix, we attribute this to our customers upgrading their network capacity from 10G to 100G connections – which gave them the headroom they needed to meet the current demand.

Given that the core of the internet is made up of multiple networks, it is capable of scaling in just a matter of days, rather than weeks or months. Because our customers can quickly provision multiple 100G links and scale their bandwidth in an automated fashion, they are in a strong position to absorb massive increases in traffic. They already had the technical capabilities to scale network capacity and many were planning to scale anyway – just not as quickly.

Dave Temkin from Netflix talked about how they’ve been able to quickly scale most of the infrastructure that they had already deployed. Said Temkin, “Partners like Equinix have been great in getting cross connects provisioned quickly where we needed them in order to get interconnects beefed up in certain markets.”

Dzmitry Markovich from Dropbox talked about how the company is heavily invested in peering with multiple local network providers to deliver a greater quality of service between Dropbox and its users over “last mile” connectivity. Said Markovich, “…we’ll see a lot of traffic coming from a thousand different places, from many different networks, from the same people.”[i]

Greater consumption of cloud and virtual network services

We are seeing a big uptick in Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric™ (ECX Fabric) software-defined connections for remote workers to access UCC applications and other digital services. Giving digital businesses the ability to be just a cross connect away from each other and support single-digit latency for VPN peering and aggregation, allows them to quickly scale to meet the sudden demands of remote users. We also see our customers using Network Edge to spin-up virtual networks in more locations faster, such as high-performance cloud-to-cloud routing and fire walls for greater security.

Zoom, an Equinix customer, has been using ECX Fabric to boost its capacity.[ii] Zoom’s Alex Guerrero shared, “We use ECX Fabric to increase bandwidth across the board… at this point it’s just go for it, get as much bandwidth as you can…”

The high value of interconnection choice

On a personal note, I find myself wondering how many of these shifts will stick and become the new normal and how many will revert back to “the old way.” I’ve sat with my kids while they do their schoolwork online and I have to say, it works pretty well. We’re all adjusting to a lot of new patterns and time will tell what sticks based on how we’ve creatively adapted.

But one thing that I’ve taken away from this whole experience is you can’t underestimate the power of an architecture that offers a wide-range of interconnection choices that allow you to scale up quickly. It’s the ability to access rich, high-density digital and business ecosystems around the world via a variety of private and public connectivity options that is making today’s digital infrastructures agile, scalable and resilient enough to seamlessly handle this unprecedented surge in data traffic.

Hear more from our panel about how today’s digital leaders are successfully supporting the sudden influx of remote user traffic and delivering a high-quality digital experience by viewing the Kentik webinar, “How Leading Companies Support Remote Work and Digital Experience.”

Also, you can learn more about building scalable, digital-ready digital infrastructures by reading the Interconnection Oriented Architecture™ (IOA™) Playbook.

 

[i] Venturebeat, “How Zoom, Netflix, Dropbox and Equinix are tackling coronavirus infrastructure challenges,” March 27, 2020.

[ii] Data Center Knowledge, “How Zoom, Netflix and Dropbox are Staying Online During the Pandemic,” March 26, 2020.

 

Bill Long
Bill Long Sr. Vice President of Core Product Management