Over the past few years, every organization has built — or is in the process of building — their digital strategy to scale and provide world-class experiences for their customers, partners and employees. COVID-19 has only accelerated these programs to advance global digital transformation. In 2021, IT leaders are shifting from a reactive posture to more proactive, strategic digital transformation initiatives. Partnering with customers, partners and employees, IT leaders are refining digital business models, fostering a culture that prioritizes experimentation, and using technology and data to establish competitive advantages.
For more than twenty years, Equinix has been helping enterprise CIOs, CTOs and architects see the value of Platform Equinix® for deploying their business platforms and applications at scale. As a result of the latest digital push, industry leaders are now building and interconnecting digital infrastructure to power their success faster than ever.
The time for a digital-first strategy is now.
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Why go digital?
According to the Equinix 2020-2021 Global Tech Trends survey, “COVID-19 fast-tracked the transformation of business-critical digital infrastructures around the world. 47% of IT decision-makers globally reported they accelerated digital transformation plans because of the pandemic, while a significant majority (60%) of respondents across all regions said the pandemic forced them to revisit and revise their IT strategy.” We have seen proof of this leap to digital with our own customers, where digital leaders are moving 4.5x farther ahead with their digital transformation, according to the recently published Global Interconnection Index (GXI) Volume 5.
What is digital transformation?
In a nutshell, digital transformation is the integration of digital technologies into various areas of business, fundamentally changing how we operate and deliver value to customers, partners and business stakeholders. It’s also a cultural shift that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, think differently and innovate at a faster pace than before.
Today, more than 24 million business transactions/month are conducted on Platform Equinix[i], fueling our growing $6.6 billion business.[ii] To continue our growth, we’re investing not only in the architecture that provides the required scale to our global platform, but also the architecture that provides the interoperability and interchangeability of technology platforms to future proof our business. This is where cloud native foundational concepts and architecture paradigms such as the digital integration hub and digital infrastructure come into play.
Cloud native is a modern approach to building and running software applications that leverages the flexibility, scalability and resilience of cloud computing. Cloud native foundational concepts help in building digital platforms, products and applications. The entire landscape of this ecosystem is maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).[iii]
The essentials of making business applications cloud native
Four technology, people and process models are essential to true cloud native computing:
- Microservices: By structuring applications as a collection of loosely coupled services, microservices strengthen continuous delivery and deployment.
- Agile development: Agile is all about making development processes fast and easy, creating super-nimble organizations that can innovate quickly.
- DevOps: DevOps focuses on how quickly a program can move from the design stage into production.
- Cloud: Cloud is an extremely flexible delivery platform that can support many different architectural and deployment styles.
Accelerating digital transformation at Equinix via a digital integration hub architecture
Building a unified digital view to power a digital business for customers, partners and internal business stakeholders requires data to be gathered across many systems in real time. The best way to connect disparate systems and provide a unified view is by providing a consistent approach for the interfaces through which the end users consume data via a digital integration hub (DIH) architecture.
A DIH architecture is part of a multiyear program to build the foundational integration platform to accelerate digital transformation at Equinix. With this program, our focus is to integrate and innovate new digital products and services at a faster pace.
The following are the key drivers to digital acceleration at Equinix:
In summary, the core purpose of adopting a DIH architecture is to enhance the customer, partner and employee experience, because in the digital world, the performance of your apps and system is everything.
How DIH is different from the standard API-based paradigm
In a standard application programming interface (API) enabled platform, the application clients interact with systems using APIs through the API management layer, which proxies API calls from the application client and delivers digital business services to the systems of record. This type of strategy can create challenges when deployed at scale. Where client applications are deployed to many end users with unpredictable usage, or where APIs are subject to high load conditions, a couple of issues can arise:
- Long round-trip latencies from the client application request to the response from the back-end systems.
- Poor scalability of back-end systems servicing many repetitive requests, for which they may not have been designed.
According to the Apache Community, a DIH architecture addresses these challenges by inserting a high-performance, in-memory database between the back-end systems and the API management layer.[iv] This database helps customers in two main ways:
- For APIs that return data to analytical services, the database can act as a cache of data for requests. For the requests that can be processed in the database, there is a fast turnaround with lower latency than referring to the back-end applications and database layer.
- Every request handled through the database using cached data reduces the load on the back-end applications and other systems of record, preventing them from becoming overloaded.
Key considerations for deploying digital infrastructure architectures
To ensure success, businesses should keep the following considerations in mind when deploying digital infrastructure architectures:
These considerations are foundational to our digital infrastructure deployments at Equinix, as well as those of our customers and partners whose digital transformations we help accelerate.
Deploying digital infrastructures on Platform Equinix
On Platform Equinix, enterprise and service provider organizations can deploy their platforms and applications on their digital infrastructure and then connect to any cloud, network or SaaS provider using Equinix Fabric™. In addition, Equinix Fabric can help these organizations interconnect their own IT infrastructures seamlessly across Platform Equinix.
For our implementation, a digital integration platform is deployed using a hybrid multicloud approach where the enterprise data is available in a secure on-premises network (enterprise infrastructure) and the integration platform services are deployed in one of the major public cloud service providers (CSPs) for scalability and global reach. Platform Equinix provides products such as Equinix Fabric that connect digital infrastructure and services on demand at software speed via secure, software-defined interconnection. Equinix Fabric allows us and our customers and partners to scale our hybrid deployments and helps us all connect easily and securely to major CSPs.
Enterprise CIOs who are planning to accelerate their digital transformations can speak to our Global Solutions Architects (GSAs) about how to provision foundational digital infrastructure at scale and use engineering platforms and solutions such as Equinix Fabric, Equinix Metal™, IBX SmartView™, Network Edge, as well as other third-party solutions, to better serve their global customers.