What a year this has been! The challenges we’ve faced with the pandemic have been daunting. Still, I’m heartened by how we’ve come together and met these challenges with such resiliency.
“Resiliency” was a word used a lot during a recent virtual round table I joined with Rick Villars, Group Vice President, Worldwide Research for IDC and Ryan Azus, Chief Revenue Officer at Zoom. We explored how businesses can accelerate digital initiatives and implement, connect, scale and adapt for whatever comes next. Here are some of our learnings based on thousands of customer interactions in 2020.
Forged by Fire: Best Practices All Digital Leaders Need
In this roundtable, join C-Suite executives from Zoom Video Communications and Equinix, featuring IDC, in exploring best practices for accelerating digital initiatives and how businesses can implement, connect, scale and adapt to be ready for whatever is next.Read More
Rick kicked things off discussing notable tech trends that IDC uncovered in 2020:
- Hybrid by Design
There’s no question the pandemic catapulted companies into an accelerated digital transformation. From manufacturing to education, to healthcare and government, no sector escaped the systemic shift of nearly half the world’s workforce moving from offices to homes. It’s a trend we’ll see for many years to come.
According to IDC, the number of remote workers went from 14% at the start of the pandemic to a whopping 45% post-pandemic. And not all these employees are expected to return to the office when the pandemic ends. Rick said, “By 2023, 75% of G2000 companies will commit to providing technical parity to a workforce that is hybrid by design rather than by circumstances, enabling them to work together separately and in real time.”[i]
- Remediation and Adaption
Companies are quickly remediating initial problems they faced when the crisis hit by investing in technology to build resiliency. This resiliency was a result of remediating shortcomings in their existing IT infrastructures and addressing issues that arose from their initial emergency response. They looked for help from companies like Equinix and Zoom to reinforce and transform their IT infrastructure to create new capabilities via digital technologies.
At the same time, these digital leaders realized that rapid adaptation to unpredictable changes is equally important.
- Core IT Ecosystem Transition
Enterprises’ relationships with existing IT suppliers and communication partners are rapidly evolving. For example, how technology is being used in business processes is changing what companies need from their IT ecosystems and partners. In this new world, enterprises expect new products and services from digital and business service providers and ecosystem partners that will help them navigate today’s challenges and whatever lies ahead.
With these trends in mind, Ryan and I weighed in on how we have been working with customers to manage the impact of the pandemic on their business and thrive in today’s new reality.
Stretched but not broken
According to Ryan, this year’s been “an exciting and kind of crazy time.” Zoom went from approximately ten million daily meeting participants in December 2019 to more than 300 million by April 2020. Said Ryan, “We were stretched, but our architecture was built for scale so we were able to keep up with the demand.”
This is something that Zoom’s employees can be proud of given the significant contribution their company has made in helping commercial and private organizations and individuals collaborate and stay in touch during the pandemic. It required Zoom’s engineering teams to add capacity quickly. Ryan attributes Zoom’s agility to address the pandemic supply chain and new customer use cases with its existing digital architecture that supports its own remote workforce. He also attributes its success to the cooperation of cloud service providers (CSPs), network carriers and infrastructure partners like Equinix working alongside their engineering teams and customers.
“It’s funny how you adapt to the new normal,” Ryan said. “In the heat of it all, when it first hit, it was pretty extreme. Then over time, this high level of usage, this high level of business, basically became our normal.”
At Zoom’s recent run rate, the company will reach over 3 trillion meetings by the end of the year. Looking ahead, Ryan agrees with IDC’s findings that we’re all going to be living in a hybrid world. And from Zoom’s experience over this last year, Ryan can now better visualize what that’s going to look like and prepare for whatever comes next.
The resiliency benchmark has changed
For our customers on Platform Equinix®, their concept of resiliency pivoted toward supporting increasing numbers of remote workers. This meant providing access to their applications just about anywhere and processing the data that was being generated by those applications closer to where it was created ̶ at the edge.
As far as remediation and adaptation, it meant that our customers, such as Zoom, needed to scale up to meet the increasing demands of privately interconnecting to end users and partner ecosystems, especially cloud and network providers. That direct and secure interconnection between enterprises and service providers, which bypasses the public internet, has been a massive network bandwidth driver. We’ve measured this interconnection bandwidth capacity and reported the results in the fourth annual Global Interconnection Index (GXI), a market study published by Equinix. The GXI reports that the annual interconnection bandwidth capacity growth rate to service providers is expected to increase 5x over the next four years, driven by greater demands from enterprises at the edge.
Prior to the pandemic, we were helping digital leaders around the world optimize and modernize their infrastructures. We helped shift their IT architectures from those monolithic, centralized deployment sites to putting their applications closer to end users. And to no ones’ surprise, those digital leaders that were already on that journey were in a much better position to respond to the crisis and showed greater resiliency. They already had much of the infrastructure they needed to quickly expand to more locations on Platform Equinix and get closer to their employees, partners and customers. Supporting that digital transformation has been a large and very exciting part of the work we’ve been doing with our customers throughout the year.
Moving forward, resiliency is about helping our customers scale very quickly. This includes deploying additional network circuits instantaneously by leveraging software-defined interconnection services such as Equinix Fabric™ and Network Edge and creating more API-enabled interfaces around them. It also means delivering an automated, bare metal as a service offering, such as Equinix Metal™, which reduces the friction of entry so our customers can deploy processing resources anywhere in the world. Given how time consuming and expensive it is to ship gear and build infrastructure, we’re providing our customers a way to get around the current supply chain delays for server and networking equipment by allowing them to deploy infrastructure at software speed.
And to add to what Rick and Ryan were saying, we’re now living in a hybrid world…with a lot of complexity. Infrastructure solutions being built today are no longer coming from one vendor, industry or geography. Our mission is to make sure our customers can place that infrastructure wherever they need it, connect to everything, and seize opportunity with agility, speed and confidence.
[i] IDC, Worldwide 2020 IT Predictions, Doc #US46942020, October 2020.