The Evolution of “as a Service” Digital Infrastructure

Zac Smith
The Evolution of “as a Service” Digital Infrastructure

Just about every technology player is moving as a service, and as the world’s digital infrastructure company™, we’re focused on helping to make them successful. For example, read more about today’s introduction of a series of trusted solutions from Dell Technologies. Our role? To make Dell’s unique technologies the star of our customers’ show by handling the stuff that makes it all “go”—anywhere in the world.

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Male IT Specialist Holds Laptop and Discusses Work with Female Server Technician. They're Standing in Data Center, Rack Server Cabinet is Open.

Delivering -aaS Around the World

I like to describe what we’re doing with our digital infrastructure services like Equinix Metal™, Network Edge and Equinix Fabric™ as “automated colo” for the software age. This not only connects our digital services to the strategic lineage of our scaled colocation business, but it grounds our vision in two important ways.

The first is foundational. Just like colocation, Equinix’s digital services are foundational building blocks that customers and partners can assemble to create unique advantage. We’ve designed Equinix Metal with just enough of our opinion to deliver a scalable, programmable experience—and not a bit more!

It’s why we offer a default Layer 3 network topology with no SDN overlay, and why we don’t install an agent on your machine or operate an IaaS runtime.  And with Network Edge, it’s why we offer an expanding choice of branded functions from Cisco, Juniper, Palo Alto, Aruba, Fortinet and others.

The second key bit, automation, describes the repeatability and scalability that we can deliver as a globally scaled operator.  The big unlock that we’re providing is an API interface for customers to invest in digital transformation at the most fundamental, physical level.

The fact that a bare metal server, router or private connection magically appears at the end of the API is the result of hundreds of steps, from the procurement of data center space, power, switches, cables and optics to the installation, configuration, ongoing maintenance and system integration of all of these components.

 

Our “as a Service” Ingredients 

As science-fiction author and futurist Arthur C. Clarke famously noted, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”  That’s our goal!

Our job is to put the right things, in the right places, at the right time; power and lifecycle them sustainably, fix them when broken, and then automate it all for software and connect it to the right networks. But let’s break it down a bit:

  • The Right Things—Sometimes it’s as simple as needing a “good enough” Intel CPU and a certain amount of RAM and disk. But as you scale up, wade into enterprise solutions, or carve out your unique technology advantage, it often matters exactly what “it” is. Our job is to stay humble and enable customers’ opinions to shine through by offering choice, such as the Dell PowerStore, VxRail and DDVE or Pure Storage solutions we’re now operating as a Service, or our new Workload Optimized server lineup.
  • The Right Places—Companies increasingly offer their value to a global audience and interact with hundreds of other platforms and partners to get the job done. Equinix, with its unmatched ecosystem density and global reach spanning 65+ metros, is a logical and cost-effective place to make this happen. In addition to connectivity and latency, there are important issues around data sovereignty and redundancy/high availability planning.
  • The Right Time—If you ask someone when they want something, the answer is usually ASAP. But as the old saying goes, you can pick two: fast, cheap, and great—and this means balancing on-demand with pre-deployed capacity. That’s why most of our customers leverage a hybrid multicloud architecture that pairs redundant core capacity with elastic resources at Equinix or via our public cloud partners.
  • Operations—In my opinion, the most underrated and yet most valuable, aspect of our “as a Service” evolution has to be operations. I see the day 2 job of securing, scaling and repairing physical infrastructure across a global footprint as a true craft…and one that we aim to be the best at in the world. Add in the 24/7/365 running of highly available networks (think in-rack, aggregation, peering, transit, transport…you get the point!), and it’s easy to see why customers are so hungry for as a Service digital infrastructure.
  • Automation—We rarely deliver digital infrastructure directly to humans. What’s on the other side are platforms, orchestrated by software and glued together with APIs. To me, it’s about enabling customers and partners to move faster with DevOps tooling, CI pipelines and infrastructure as code practices that enable them to scale with agility anywhere in the world. So in addition to well-documented APIs, we work hard to integrate our platform into the tools and stacks you already use.
  • Connectivity—Increasingly, digital leaders are looking to connect to the internet and each other more strategically. This includes tapping into the right ecosystem of partners (for improved end-user experience and resiliency) as well as pushing critical workloads off the public internet using interconnection and cloud on-ramps. In addition to the interconnection power of Equinix Fabric, one important thing you get with our digital services is an operated global backbone, rich peering relationships and world-class connectivity options.
  • Customer Experience—Finally, while our platform is increasingly designed for self-service, people often make all the difference. We try to position our people as an extension of your team. In addition to responsiveness in times of need (with our shared Slack channel support!), their unique knowledge of our platform and experience with digital infrastructure best practices and opportunities are meant to help unlock unique advantages for our customers.

Partners are the Star of our Show

We believe that being the world’s digital infrastructure company includes a massive dose of humility. When customers rent “our” servers, they are actually getting access to technology from Intel, AMD, Arm, NVIDIA, Micron, Samsung and others.

The same goes for storage, machine learning, network functions or hybrid cloud platforms. While we could have created our own versions, we believe that our customers are best served by choosing from best-of-breed solutions that are part of our ecosystem:

While we love to step into the spotlight from time to time, we’re more than happy to see Dell, Pure, NVIDIA, Intel, AMD, Ampere or any of our growing list of partners steal the show with their amazing technologies.

Instead, we’re happy to be valued for the as a Service plumbing that we’re uniquely bringing to the table: operational excellence, sustainability innovation, an outstanding suite of connectivity options, unmatched global reach and interconnected ecosystems, physical infrastructure automation, and a culture that puts our customers at the center of everything we do.

If you would like to learn more about how Equinix makes it easier for you to consume and deliver cutting-edge digital infrastructure as a Service, visit metal.equinix.com.