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What Is Digital Infrastructure?

Businesses across the globe are adapting to challenges and capitalizing on opportunities by going digital

Arun Dev
Tiffany Osias
What Is Digital Infrastructure?

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in October 2021. It has been updated to include the latest information.

While digital infrastructure was once an enabler for businesses, it’s now become a primary source of competitive advantage. Digital infrastructure brings together and interconnects physical and virtual technologies such as compute, storage, network, applications and Everything as a Service (XaaS) platforms to build the foundation for a company’s digital operations. Businesses use this foundation to re-architect their services for global digital delivery and to access the ecosystems and capabilities they need to rapidly build products and services and deliver them at scale.

Three technology trends that are driving infrastructure change

In the digital economy, change is the only constant. Businesses need to be ready to adapt to whatever comes their way. Just in the last few years, we’ve dealt with a global pandemic, geopolitical conflict, economic uncertainty, extreme climate events, natural disasters, supply chain breakdowns, labor shortages and much more.

All these challenges underscore how important it is for businesses to be ready for anything. We may not know exactly what the next round of business challenges might look like, but we do know that businesses will need agile, flexible digital infrastructure to help overcome those challenges. That’s why it’s no surprise that the Equinix Global Tech Trends Survey (GTTS) found that 83% of global IT decision-makers said that future-proofing the business was a top priority for their technology strategy.

As businesses plan for an uncertain future, many of the same technology trends we’ve seen in recent years will continue to accelerate. These trends represent new opportunities that digital leaders are already capitalizing on, as well as new challenges they’re strategizing to overcome.

Trend 1: Digital infrastructure has shifted to the edge

Business leaders are starting to capitalize on the value of shifting their digital infrastructure to the edge, rather than relying exclusively on a centralized digital core. By distributing infrastructure at the edge, digital leaders can analyze data closer to the source to gain insights quickly and efficiently, and take advantage of the full potential of 5G apps with low latency.

However, this growing shift to the digital edge will also open businesses up to more complex cybersecurity threats. These threats can only be mitigated using new and innovative security strategies.

Trend 2: Digital infrastructure is increasingly developer-led and software-defined

Application developers are gaining more influence in their organizations’ technology buying decisions. As these application developers move into the digital transformation driver’s seat, one of their top priorities will be to increase business agility through greater adoption of new technologies like virtualization, containerization and automation.

In addition, the advent of software-defined everything will help businesses deploy and manage their infrastructure at software speed, often using a code-first approach. And as end-user demands continue to change rapidly, API standardization will help businesses scale their digital infrastructure to keep up with those changes.

Trend 3: Digital infrastructure is increasingly comprised of interconnected partner ecosystems

Global digital businesses simply can’t be successful operating in a vacuum. They need to capitalize on their own strengths, while also quickly and easily drawing from the respective strengths of a diverse group of partners and service providers.

Digital infrastructure is changing to reflect the growing importance of partner ecosystems. Many organizations are building hybrid multicloud environments, interconnecting with multiple cloud providers to optimize performance without the risk of high cloud costs or vendor lock-in.

Businesses are also planning for hybrid IT environments. This will require them to integrate both physical and digital infrastructure from multiple providers, including on-premises, cloud and colocated environments. Finally, businesses will need to access data from across internal and external data sources to ensure their modern applications are performing to their full potential.

Unlock the future of digital infrastructure with interconnection

The right digital infrastructure enables organizations to adapt to all these technology trends dynamically, using an automated, flexible edge-to-cloud consumption model. When the need arises, they can rapidly assemble and reassemble the right building blocks and resources. In many ways, the ability to interconnect digital infrastructure—both internally and with ecosystem partners—is key to enabling this level of agility and flexibility.

Interconnection is the direct and private exchange of digital traffic between two or more parties inside a carrier-neutral colocation data center. Bypassing the public internet to directly connect their infrastructure components is the secret sauce that helps digital leaders modernize IT systems, optimize application performance, improve security, scale faster and reduce inefficiency.

The Global Interconnection Index (GXI) report, a market study published by Equinix, measures the growth of interconnection bandwidth across different regions and industries. According to the 2023 GXI, interconnection bandwidth is forecast to grow at a five-year CAGR of 40% globally. This growth demonstrates that more and more businesses are using interconnection to get the distributed digital infrastructure they need to maximize agility and avoid disruption.

Equinix’s role in a digital-first world

Equinix is the world’s digital infrastructure company™, providing a trusted global platform that delivers everything digital leaders need to accelerate transformation and advance their competitive advantage. Our internal benchmark studies of digital leaders have helped us identify three components as foundational building blocks for digital infrastructure:

  • Digital core: Includes corporate network, multicloud and regional back-end data infrastructure locations.
  • Digital ecosystems: Includes locations close to specific ecosystem concentrations—driving gravity, density and value.
  • Digital edge: Includes locations geographically close to front-end centers of revenue and operations.

Equinix enables its 10,000+ customers and partners to build and interconnect these components directly and dynamically to anyone on one global platform: Platform Equinix®. In addition, Equinix digital services allow customers to deploy the infrastructure they need on demand, including software-defined interconnection, automated bare metal and virtual network functions.

To learn more, check out the Platform Equinix vision paper.

Arun Dev Vice President, Digital Interconnection Services
Tiffany Osias Vice President, Global Colocation Services
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