3 Key Components of Digital Infrastructure That Foster Innovation

GXI Vol. 5 insights show why interconnecting the core, integrating ecosystems and interacting at the edge are integral to a digital-first strategy

D.R. Carlson
3 Key Components of Digital Infrastructure That Foster Innovation

During the past two years, companies have been in two camps: either they were the disruptors, or they were one of the disrupted. A key component of success for those who disrupted was deploying a digital infrastructure with an edge-to-cloud consumption model that was automated and flexible.

These innovative and fast-moving companies realized that traditional infrastructure was not designed to support their digital-first strategies. According to the Equinix 2020-2021 Tech Trends Survey (GTTS), 80% of digital leaders reported digitizing IT infrastructure as a top priority, a 16% increase over the prior year.

To drive a successful digital-first strategy, digital infrastructure must be designed to enable a business to be a disruptor and not one of the disrupted. It should be deployed as a combination of digital core, digital ecosystems and the digital edge. The Global Interconnection Index, Vol. 5, reveals the deployment patterns that were identified for these three core elements of digital infrastructure through the analysis of thousands of organizations over 10 years and a benchmark study of more than 500 digital leaders.

What exactly is Digital Infrastructure?

Digital infrastructure brings together and interconnects physical and virtual technologies, such as compute, storage, network, applications, and IaaS, PaaS and SaaS platforms, providing the foundation of a company’s digital-first operations. Businesses use this foundation to re-architect their services for global digital delivery and access the ecosystems and capabilities they need to rapidly build products and services and deliver them at scale.

There are three primary components of digital infrastructure. Let’s look at why they matter to companies with digital-first strategies as they advance beyond cloud deployments.

  1. Digital core includes corporate network, multicloud and regional back-end data infrastructure locations. Interconnecting the digital core removes traditional technology limitations, making cloud adjacent the new on-premises.

The GXI shows that Service Providers average eight digital core locations, which are growing at a 24% CAGR[i]. Enterprises average six digital core locations with 130 cabinets (total), growing at a 29% CAGR. Further, a majority of the top 25 SaaS companies have deployed a digital core, with half of those companies averaging 8 locations.

  1. Digital ecosystems level the playing field as businesses capitalize on digital marketplaces to access exponential capabilities and gain speed by connecting with other industry-specific companies and a broad range of partners. Deploying infrastructure in locations close to specific ecosystem concentrations drives gravity, density and value.

The GXI shows that almost a third of all global interconnection[ii] locations have high concentrations of specific industry and ecosystem clusters colocated. Digital Enterprises and digital-native SaaS companies directly interconnect with 30 partners (on average) in ecosystems.

  1. Digital edge delivers differentiated experiences in proximity to population centers everywhere. Interacting at the digital edge bridges the physical and virtual with locations that are geographically close to front-end revenue and operations centers as well as customers and employees.

The GXI shows that close to 30% of Enterprise digital infrastructure is in edge locations, yet Enterprise edge will have a predicted 57% CAGR as it catches up to the “new normal” and businesses rethink their operations at the edge. Service providers are also expanding to the edge, with edge infrastructure growth almost double the growth of the core.

Interconnection architecture supports digital infrastructure

An Interconnection Oriented Architecture® (IOA®) removes the distance between connected things and directly interconnects services in proximity to optimize bi-directional traffic exchange of uploads and downloads. IOA is a proven, repeatable IT architectural framework comprised of industry best practices that businesses use to directly and securely connect anyone and anything, anywhere.

Digital leaders recognize the necessity of shifting from siloed and centralized IT delivery to distributed, colocated and interconnected. By using on-demand interconnection and private data exchange, businesses unlock digital infrastructure’s true value. IOA enables a digital infrastructure that interconnects digital services with ecosystems in proximity to where business happens.

Positioning digital infrastructure with Equinix

As the world’s digital infrastructure company, Equinix provides a trusted global platform that Enterprises and Service Providers rely on to advance their digital-first strategies and equip their digital transformation journeys. On Platform Equinix®, we have interconnected digital ecosystems made up of enterprises and service providers within every industry around the world, including more than 1,800 networks and 3,000 cloud and IT service providers.

The Equinix global footprint of more than 230 data centers in 65 global markets makes it possible for ecosystem partners to gain proximity to each other in the places they do business together—in core metros and at the edge. With a full portfolio of software-defined interconnection and edge services, such as Equinix Fabric™, Equinix Metal™ and Network Edge, Equinix helps further enable digital-first strategies by providing cloud-adjacent architecture at the digital core and digital edge for Enterprises and Services Providers.

Read the GXI Vol. 5 to learn more about how digital leaders are deploying the right digital infrastructure in the right places for competitive advantage.

You may also be interested to read:

Platform Equinix Vision Paper

Digital Leaders eBook



[i] CAGR – Compound annual growth rate.
[ii] Interconnection bandwidth is a measure, calculated in bits/sec, of the capacity provisioned to privately and directly exchange traffic between two parties, inside carrier-neutral colocation data centers.

D.R. Carlson Director, Equinix Research Group, Americas
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