Data Center Extension Unlocks New Possibilities

By breaking through the walls of your legacy IT infrastructure, you can put workloads in the right places

Ian Botbyl
Data Center Extension Unlocks New Possibilities

With their storage, compute and network capabilities now increasingly distributed across multiple edge locations, enterprises need new paradigms to help them leverage the proximity and agility of the edge. Today’s digital leaders are achieving that goal with data center extension, which involves pairing an on-premises data center, such as an Equinix IBX® colocation facility, with cloud-adjacent digital infrastructure. In other words, it’s a hybrid infrastructure model that allows organizations to seamlessly migrate critical workloads to and from the cloud as needed.

The rise of data center extension is a byproduct of the growing cloud migration movement. Enterprises are shifting away from siloed, centralized infrastructure models for their compute, storage and network systems and software, and turning to cloud services instead.

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However, public cloud is not a one-size-fits-all solution for enterprise IT. According to IDC, 80% of enterprises will overhaul their relationships with infrastructure providers by 2024 to better support ubiquitous deployment of resources and more autonomous IT operations.[1] This trend is occurring because businesses have learned that public cloud doesn’t always fit their needs. For instance, workloads requiring custom hardware likely won’t function properly on public cloud. In addition, applications running on a hypervisor stack require significant changes before you could even think of running them on a cloud-based platform.

Enterprises have legacy applications they continue to rely on heavily, but they likely don’t want to invest the time and resources needed to modernize those applications. This raises an interesting question: what are they supposed to do with the applications that are vital to their business operations, but won’t fit into a public cloud environment?

Data center extension to the rescue

Taking a hybrid approach based on data center extension can help enterprises achieve all the advantages of the public cloud while also avoiding the drawbacks. Data center extension gives IT the flexibility to provision workloads to either the on-premises data center or the cloud on a case-by-case basis. In addition, they can tap into cloud services to spin up additional temporary capacity during times of increased demand.

With the help of Equinix and our partner ecosystem, the customers featured in this blog extended their on-premises environments to the edge, unlocking the flexibility of a cloud-adjacent approach.

Regional healthcare system enables high availability, flexibility, and cost efficiency

A U.S.-based regional healthcare system migrated away from its legacy private data center, replacing it with Equinix colocation and digital services. With this new on-premises environment, the customer used data center extension to get closer to cloud providers and gain on-demand access to the cloud services it needs.

The customer had spent heavily on hardware and software over the last decade, and was hesitant to give up on the CAPEX it had already invested. However, the aging hardware was showing signs of failure, and the customer recognized it needed to modernize its infrastructure. Specifically, it needed a hybrid cloud environment that could ensure high availability and disaster recovery (HA/DR) while also complying with the stringent data protection requirements of the healthcare industry, including HIPAA.

The Equinix colocation footprint helped the organization redefine its on-premises environment to ensure it was located in close proximity to cloud on-ramps from top providers. As a result, the customer can now tap into low-latency cloud services on demand. The customer then used Equinix Metal™ to quickly stand up virtualized compute and storage, taking advantage of our single-tenant Bare Metal as a Service operating model.

Working with Equinix also helped the customer tap into our partner ecosystem. The organization began using Microsoft Azure as a “hot site”​ to provide HA/DR capabilities for its electronic medical records system. In addition, Network Edge from Equinix allowed the customer to deploy virtual networking devices—including routers, firewalls and SD-WAN gateways—from the vendors of its choice. To tie it all together, HPE GreenLake helped the customer deploy a secure edge-to-cloud platform that flexibly manages compute, network and storage capabilities all in one place.

Equinix Fabric™ helped the customer establish secure, reliable connectivity with all its ecosystem partners. With the power of this software-defined interconnection solution, the organization can dynamically set virtual connections in minutes. Going forward, the customer will have access to hundreds of available service providers on Equinix Fabric, giving it the flexibility to add new partners as its needs continue to change.

Data center extension on Platform Equinix

Following its successful implementation of Equinix digital services, the customer gained the following benefits:

  • Proximity to cloud on-ramps
  • Shift from CAPEX to OPEX
  • Greater network agility
  • Flexibility of platform and choice
  • Single tenancy with cloud-like features
  • Improved cyber resiliency

Commercial services and supplies company migrates from legacy data center quickly

Another Equinix customer, a company specializing in commercial services and supplies, wanted to enable its aggressive expansion plans while also keeping hardware costs manageable. This proved difficult due to the ongoing chip shortage, which made the hardware market even more unpredictable than usual. The customer planned to migrate out of its private data center by the end of 2021 but knew not all of its workloads were not well-suited for public cloud.

For this reason, the company chose a hybrid approach based on Equinix colocation services and Equinix Metal. Equinix’s expansive colocation footprint helped the customer quickly deploy distributed digital infrastructure in different regions throughout the globe. This includes a redundant disaster recovery site located in a different region of the U.S. from its primary colocation site. The customer benefited from proximity to cloud on-ramps, allowing it to tap into cloud services for certain workloads while maintaining other workloads on-premises.

Working with Equinix, the company gained the following benefits:

  • Consolidated its existing data centers
  • Used Equinix Metal to bridge the hardware and application rearchitecting gap​
  • Gained the flexibility to migrate complex workloads to the cloud on demand
  • Implemented a new DR site quickly with complete control over infrastructure design ​
  • Provisioned its compute and networking infrastructure​ quickly

Don’t waste your initial investment—build upon it

By extending your data center to the digital edge, you can strategically place applications and services adjacent to the service providers you need to connect to. In addition, you can take advantage of Platform Equinix®  to redeploy your legacy applications in an a cost-efficient, flexible and scalable manner. This makes it quick and easy to modernize those applications, thereby preserving your initial investment.

In addition, integrating your on-premises infrastructure with digital services such as Equinix Metal can help you extend your network, storage and compute capabilities beyond a single location. You’ll be able to place distributed digital infrastructure where you need it, with no time-consuming and CAPEX-heavy buildout required.

To learn more about how you can build the optimized hybrid infrastructure you need to thrive in the global economy, read the ebook “Physical infrastructure at software speed: An infrastructure optimization guide.”



[1]IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Future of Connectedness 2022 Predictions.” Authors: Paul Hughes, Carrie MacGillivray, Rohit Mehra, Ghassan Abdo, Brandon Butler, Ajeet Das, James Eibisch, Mark Leary, Courtney Munroe, Leslie Rosenberg. October 2021, Doc #US47438921.


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Ian Botbyl Senior Manager, Product Marketing
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