Making the Journey from Physical to Virtual

What to expect, consider and watch out for as you embark on your digital journey

Ankit Parikh
Chad Arnold
Making the Journey from Physical to Virtual

The journey from a physical to virtual infrastructure is just that – a journey. Your entire organization is not going to flip a switch and transform overnight, and the destination is not fixed. In this blog, we’ll talk about why and when you should move to digital, who should make that decision, what to consider and what to watch out for as you embark on your digital transformation journey.

Why move to digital?

First, let’s review the benefits of moving to a digital infrastructure. The scalability, security, and resiliency that a digital infrastructure enables are unprecedented. A software-defined, on-demand network makes network set-up and management exponentially faster and easier, which means faster time to market in multiple locations and tangible benefits for your business. However, you don’t have to completely give up your physical networking infrastructure to reap those benefits. We’ll talk more about that later in this post.

The Future of Digital Leadership

This vision paper dives deep into the ways Equinix is helping digital leaders assemble infrastructure in mere minutes to build digital advantage, boost agility and deploy faster.

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the future of digital leadership

Another big benefit is the way you pay for your digital network – as a service. COVID left many businesses strapped for cash. The beauty of virtual networking is that you can shift your costs from CAPEX to OPEX and avoid significant upfront costs.

Overview of a Network Edge deployment

What drives digital transformation?

Aside from the obvious benefits, there are a few common triggers that often drive a shift to digital:

Global supply chain disruption

By now, almost everyone has been affected in one way or another by the delays in the global supply chain – a long-term repercussion of the pandemic.  It can be challenging right now to obtain physical hardware or chips in a timely manner. With virtual networking, you don’t have to wait for hardware to arrive so you can set up your network much faster.

Expansion into new markets

Testing or expanding your business in a new market is easier and less expensive when you can establish a virtual presence in that market instead of setting up an entirely new physical data center. With Platform Equinix™, you can use Network Edge to select, deploy and securely connect virtual network functions in real time. Network Edge virtually connects your business to Equinix Fabric™, instantly linking you to a globally interconnected ecosystem of more than 10,000 businesses worldwide – a whole new audience of potential customers and access to new geographic regions.

Running out of space or power

Lastly, for many growing businesses, running out of physical space or power in a data center can be the impetus to either move to or add a virtual infrastructure to an existing physical infrastructure. There is an even stronger case for a dedicated virtual infrastructure when you compare the costs of buying more servers, renting more space, and paying for more power with the cost of setting up a virtual network. Not to mention the comparison of how much time it takes to set up a physical infrastructure versus a virtual infrastructure – months vs. minutes.

Deploy Network Edge devices in these locations

With virtual networking, you don’t have to wait for hardware to arrive and you can set up your network much faster.”

Who makes the decision to move to digital?

By now a digital infrastructure is probably sounding like a great idea, but there are still some decisions to be made. To make informed decisions about your network, you need the right people in the room. These people used to be your IT team, but the problems that a digital network solves are business problems. Business leaders who understand the benefits of data and analytics need to weigh in on this technology decision.

Insights to consider on your digital journey

Helping thousands of customers along their digital journeys has taught us a few things:

The path is continuous.

First, as we mentioned at the beginning of this blog, digital transformation is a journey and not a destination. The path is continuous. By the time you get to where you are intending to go, the technology and/or the market will have changed, and you may need to align towards a new digital destination. Equinix can help future proof your infrastructure with an approach that prioritizes agility and flexibility from the very beginning of the process.

You don’t have to start from scratch.

You are not starting from scratch with a digital infrastructure; instead, you are taking your existing infrastructure and extending it to the edge. It is a physical infrastructure, deployed virtually. While it may look different out of the box, and it may need customization, you can often leverage licensing, security credentials, etc. from your existing infrastructure.

Not every app belongs in the cloud.

Before you decide to move every app in your organization to the cloud, you should take a long, hard look at the app’s business dependencies and how the app was designed. Some apps are simply not designed to run in a specific cloud. It may make more sense to maintain those applications on dedicated infrastructure, adjacent to the clouds of your choice.

The problems that a digital network solves are business problems. Business leads who understand the benefits of data and analytics need to weigh in on this technology decision.”

Do your homework.

Before you set up a virtual infrastructure, there is work to be done. First, look at those apps. Where are the interdependencies? How much latency can they tolerate? Which apps will migrate easily to a virtual infrastructure and which apps need to stay on the physical infrastructure or be replaced with new apps that are designed for a virtual infrastructure out of the box? Similarly, consider your hardware. Will your existing hardware work or is it legacy hardware that isn’t designed to support virtual infrastructure? Finally, evaluate your support team – are they ready to support a virtual infrastructure?

Equinix can help

Digital transformation takes work, and we believe that in most cases it is worth the effort. At Equinix, whether our customers are digital natives or digital nascent, we meet them wherever they happen to be on their digital journeys and walk along the path with them. We don’t tell them where the destination is, we just guide them and help them avoid pitfalls. If you would like to learn more about how Equinix is helping digital leaders assemble infrastructure in mere minutes to build digital advantage, boost agility and deploy faster, we recommend reading the Equinix Platform Vision Paper: The Future of Digital Leadership.

You are not starting from scratch with a digital infrastructure; instead, you are taking your existing infrastructure and extending it to the edge. It is a physical infrastructure, deployed virtually.”