As we kick off a new year, we at Equinix find ourselves looking back and forward at the same time, much like the Greek god Janus for which the month of January is named. We’re excited to recap the key advancements we’ve made in 2021, and we’re also looking ahead to what new innovations will mean for our customers in 2022 and in the years to come.
As the Global Interconnection Index (GXI) Volume 5 shows, we are living in a world defined by digital. The digital leaders that have optimized every aspect of their infrastructure—across the digital core, edge and ecosystem—will find themselves in the best position to pursue new innovations going forward.
At Equinix, innovation is in our DNA. We understand our customers need to adopt new, more agile technologies and business processes to address the trends and threats they will face over the next 5-10 years. And we’re innovating ourselves, in partnership with other pioneering companies, to give our customers the modernized digital infrastructure and consumption models they need.
At the same time, we believe strongly in pursuing digital transformation in a sustainable manner. With that in mind, we invite you to take a closer look at the Equinix approach to innovation, and to learn how we put it into action in 2021.
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Data centers are driving digital transformation—and sustainable innovation
Enterprises worldwide know they must pursue digital transformation to keep pace with the competition, and they need a dynamic digital infrastructure platform to help achieve that goal. As a result, data centers are becoming more adaptable, intelligent, autonomous and resilient.
In addition, the IDC research report “Market Analysis Perspective (MAP): Worldwide Cloud to Edge Datacenters” highlights the need for sustainability to be a priority as the data center market grows—projected to average 10% annually between now and 2025. Sustainability leadership is one of the core tenets of our innovation efforts and our goal of achieving climate-neutral operations by 2030. We strongly believe in being both a trusted partner to our customers over the long term and a responsible corporate citizen.
Equinix is building the next generation of data centers with a systematic approach
The data center industry cannot achieve climate-neutral operations working in a silo. That’s why Equinix led the development and is a signatory of the Climate Neutral Data Centre Operator Pact and Self-Regulatory Initiative in January 2021 to join forces with European trade associations and other cloud infrastructure and data center providers operating in Europe. Together, we’re pursuing the goal of making Europe climate neutral by 2050. The pact now includes 65 members, working to develop sustainability advancements such as reducing water usage to zero, implementing green hydrogen and buying renewables at the edge.
To accelerate how we can enable our customers to balance sustainability with their digital infrastructure needs, Equinix recently announced our new Co-Innovation Facility (CIF) in the Washington, D.C. area. The Washington CIF allows us to partner with leading enterprises to develop and test new methodologies. In particular, the center will focus on the innovations we believe will define the next generation of data centers: greater sustainability, faster and more cost-effective buildouts, and greater operations density, reliability and efficiency. These goals are all in line with our Future First sustainability strategy, which focuses on helping our customers scale their digital transformations in a sustainable manner.
Leading data center technology partners that will join us in the Washington CIF include Bloom Energy, Zutacore, Virtual Power Systems (VPS) and Natron. These and other partners will help us develop and test advanced technologies including high-density liquid cooling, intelligent power management and generator-less data centers.
New fuel cells announcement shows Equinix innovation in action
As part of our ongoing commitment to reduce our global environmental impact and ensure sustainability, we are proud to be part of a seven-company consortium chosen by the Clean Hydrogen Partnership to develop low-carbon fuel cells as a primary power source for data centers. The project, known as EcoEdge PrimePower (E2P2), took an exciting step forward recently when the consortium’s joint proposal received a grant of €2.5 million, partially funded by the Clean Hydrogen Partnership, from the Horizon 2020 program of the European Commission.
This project is aligned with the European Commission’s goal of rapidly accelerating hydrogen fuel cell adoption to meet the needs of energy-intensive industries while also building a greener power grid. It also serves our goal of achieving 100% renewable energy across our global data center footprint. With fuel cells widely recognized as a cleaner, quieter power option, they can be deployed at data centers in densely populated urban areas without negatively impacting the communities around them—an increasingly important capability in a world where digital leaders are recognizing the importance of deploying edge infrastructure in proximity to end users.
The fuel cells use a world-first design that can flexibly consume natural gas, green hydrogen or liquified petroleum gas (LPG). Each fuel cell integrates the tri-fuel platform with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) unit. Crucially, each of the three fuels can be transported over existing gas networks where locally available, meaning fuel cells could become a simple option for powering existing data centers without costly upgrades. The consortium aims to eliminate the need for traditional diesel standby generators, ultimately making data centers a positive component of the renewable energy grid.
This project is in line with our innovation and sustainability work happening across the globe. We have experience operating large-scale fuel cell platforms at 15 Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers across North America. Going forward, we will be testing and deploying the E2P2 fuel cell platform in a dedicated space within one of our Milan data centers. We hope this will serve as the springboard to develop a commercially viable product that can enable greener data center operations across the Platform Equinix™ global footprint.
Learn more about the Equinix approach to innovation and sustainability
We’re proud of the innovations we’ve made in 2021, and we remain dedicated to building on those innovations to address new threats and opportunities as they arise throughout the coming year. To learn more about the vision that drives our work, check out the Platform Equinix vision paper today.
 IDC, “Market Analysis Perspective: Worldwide Cloud to Edge Datacenters, 2021”. Ed Ferrara, Doc # US48225021, September 2021.