The COVID-19 pandemic drove home some sobering truths. For example, after making the shift to remote work, many organizations were forced to reckon with the fact that they weren’t as prepared for serious network disruptions as they once thought. On the other hand, businesses that built resiliency into their digital infrastructures were less impacted by network disruptions. According to IDC, “Organizations that were best able to use advanced and integrated digital processes and technologies proved to be more resilient and, therefore, more successful while those without were at much greater risk.”[i]
As we look into the future, enterprises must establish a resilient, highly available digital infrastructure to ensure the cloud applications and services they rely on are available when they need them.
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Here at Equinix, we strongly believe in Metcalfe’s Law, which states that the value of a network is directly proportional to the square of the number of users connected to that network. It’s this simple idea that led us to build out an interconnection ecosystem of more than 1,800 network service providers, 3,000 cloud and IT service providers, and more than 10,000 customers across the world.
However, creating a resilient, flexible digital infrastructure means not only interconnecting with the right partners and customers in the right places, but also ensuring those interconnections are available when they’re needed. That’s why we strive to make it easy to build high-availability (HA) solutions with Equinix Fabric™, and to verify those HA solutions actually provide the required redundancy.
…we strive to make it easy to build high-availability solutions with Equinix Fabric, and to verify those HA solutions actually provide the required redundancy.”
Shifting HA from the core to the edge
The basic principles of designing HA digital infrastructure haven’t changed all that much over the past 20-30 years. What has changed is where you need to build those HA solutions. In the past, HA solutions protected core data center applications in the event of network or system failures. However, as organizations increasingly deploy their digital infrastructure at the edge to support distributed users and enable advanced use cases, building in HA at the edge has become a critical part of running an effective network, and organizations need to treat its as such.
In addition to the change in mentality, organizations will need to change the building blocks they use to create HA solutions. Specifically, they will likely end up using solutions from a vendor-neutral digital infrastructure partner. For instance, Equinix Fabric allows businesses to use redundant physical ports to create resilient virtual connections to multiple services from network and cloud partners.
Building out the high-availability solution with redundant planes
In addition to redundant physical ports, Equinix Fabric chassis groups include primary and secondary switches in each metro, forming a strong foundation for redundancy. To ensure high availability, you will start from these dual switches and build out redundant planes—in both directions. Equinix uses the terms “A-side” and “Z-side” to refer to the two sides of an HA architecture. On the A-side, you will interconnect your infrastructure, allowing for data ingress via collocation in an Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data center or Network Edge virtual network services from Equinix. Once you connect your data into Equinix Fabric in one metro, you can easily interconnect remotely to services or infrastructure in more than 50 Equinix Fabric locations across the globe.
…building in high availability at the edge is a critical part of running an effective network, and organizations need to treat is as such.”
On the Z-side, Equinix Fabric will interconnect with your service provider partners, allowing for data egress to the services those partners provide. To ensure resiliency, each point of ingress on the A-side and each service provider partner on the Z-side will interconnect to both the primary and secondary switches. Keep in mind that the providers are responsible for creating connections on the Z-side, which means you’ll want to check for yourself that they are actually connecting to both planes. Most major cloud providers are very experienced with creating HA connections, but it’s always best to verify.
Your HA architecture should look like a mirror image: if you draw a horizontal line through the center, you should be able to fold it in half along that line and have the two sides match one another.
Hybrid Cloud Environment with Redundant Planes
Using the Equinix Fabric Portal to check for high availability
Once you’ve created your redundant connections, the Equinix Fabric Portal allows you to conduct a health check to make sure those connections are functioning as intended. In the Portal, you get quick and easy access to information about both your primary and secondary connections. By drilling down into this information, you can see for yourself whether your underlay matches your overlay.
The Portal allows you to take advantage of service profiles and workflows. With service profiles, you can apply attributes to a Z-side connection. This empowers you to understand how your underlay is functioning, and how to consume workflows to build exactly what you want to build from an overlay standpoint. One of the attributes you can apply to a service profile is redundancy; checking the redundancy attribute invokes a workflow on the A-side connection. This workflow will then enforce redundant connections on the A-side.
Build and verify high-availability solutions with Equinix expertise
As enterprises look to build the digital infrastructure of the future, resiliency at the edge will play a key role. That’s why designing for high availability can no longer be an afterthought. Equinix Global Solutions Architects are veteran consultants, some of whom design HA architectures on a daily basis. Taking advantage of their expertise can help you get the HA solution you need to set up your business for future growth and resiliency. Connect with a GSA today to get started.
To learn more about what you can accomplish with Equinix Fabric, visit the Equinix Developer Platform.
[i] IDC, “A Digital Resiliency Framework for the Future Enterprise”. Authors: Christopher Lee Marshall, Margaret Adam, Rebecca Segal, Sandra Ng. February 2021, IDC #US47483421.