About a year ago, I wrote a blog covering how Equinix Fabric™ for data center interconnection allows enterprises to connect partners and applications in different locations throughout the world. I shared how being able to set virtual connections and move data between locations quickly, securely and reliably is a key part of why digital leaders are able to adapt and thrive in a world defined by change.
Since then, the Equinix Fabric development team has continued to work on giving our customers new Ethernet service options that provide greater flexibility for their data center interconnection needs. Today, we’re proud to announce that for the first time, Equinix Fabric customers will be able to take advantage of multipoint-to-multipoint data center interconnection via Ethernet-switched LAN (E-LAN) technology.
Multipoint-to-multipoint networking enables users to interconnect data centers across many locations via a common network, rather than requiring direct connections between individual locations. E-LAN capabilities make it quick and simple for enterprises to deploy a full-mesh networking topology. This means they’ll be able to achieve symmetrical bandwidth for data traffic sent in either direction across their data center footprint.
Enabling cost-efficient data center interconnection on a global scale
Multipoint-to-multipoint connectivity will be offered via a purpose-built Layer 2 network in all Equinix IBX® data centers where Equinix Fabric is available. Currently, this means more than 50 metros across five continents, with new locations being added all the time. Equinix Fabric customers were already able to take advantage of software-defined interconnection capabilities in all those locations; with the release of multipoint-to-multipoint connectivity, enterprises now have a simpler option for moving traffic across many of those locations simultaneously.
For larger enterprises with a global digital infrastructure footprint, multipoint-to-multipoint connectivity can be far more cost-effective. This is because it removes the need to set up and manage direct connections between each pair of locations. As shown in the graphic below, an enterprise could connect data centers in five different metros to a shared network using only five virtual connections.
Five data center locations connected to an EVP-LAN network via Equinix Fabric
Data centers in each metro would be able to send traffic to data centers in each of the other metros via the same virtual connection. Think of it like a videoconference line where everybody can hear what everyone else is saying. In contrast, point-to-point connectivity is like relaying a message from one individual to another via telephone.
Using a point-to-point connection methodology, each of the locations shown above would need a dedicated virtual connection to each of the other locations. In this example, the organization would end up managing 10 virtual connections instead of five. Each of those 10 connections would require its own separate VLAN, which would inevitably lead to higher complexity and costs.
For enterprises looking to interconnect data centers in three or more locations, multipoint-to-multipoint connectivity will offer a clear price advantage over point-to-point connectivity. The more locations you add, the stronger the business case for full-mesh networking becomes. In addition, there’s no cost involved with setting up the network; customers pay only for the virtual connections they set to the network. This gives them the flexibility to add or remove connections as the needs of the business change, while paying only for the connections they actually use.
Equinix Fabric offers different interconnection options to support different use cases
Multipoint-to-multipoint connectivity on Equinix Fabric will be delivered in two different ways, each of which would be ideal for different use cases:
- EVP-LAN, a VLAN-based delivery option, which is currently available as of the October 2022 Equinix Fabric software release.
- EP-LAN, a port-based delivery option, which we plan to make available in a future release.
The EVP-LAN connectivity option allows enterprises to separate their data traffic out using VLANs. Customers using EVP-LAN will be able to set multiple connections from each of their Equinix Fabric ports. For instance, a particular port could be simultaneously connected to the EVP-LAN network using one VLAN and a cloud provider using another VLAN. Thus, all other data center locations on the network would also have an indirect link to the cloud provider.
Equinix Fabric port with multiple connections via EVP-LAN
In contrast, EP-LAN connectivity allows customers to create an open, transparent network, without the ability to separate traffic coming from a particular port. Enterprises need their networks to be fully transparent in order to take advantage of MACsec encryption capabilities. This means that for highly sensitive data sets that an enterprise wants to keep encrypted in transit, EP-LAN would be the only valid option.
In addition, only EP-LAN provides support for VLAN “trunking.” This means organizations can pass as many VLANs as they want over the network without each VLAN having to be on a separate connection. In certain cases, VLAN trunking may offer a more efficient method of moving large amounts of data from one location to another, which again means that EP-LAN would be the logical choice.
In the end, the choice between EVP-LAN and EP-LAN comes down to the tradeoff between control and transparency. This is why we’re proud to give customers the freedom to choose the option that best fits the needs of their specific use cases.
Get started with Equinix Fabric today
Although the release of multipoint-to-multipoint connectivity is an important step forward for enterprises looking to do data center interconnection on a global scale, the Equinix Fabric team isn’t finished yet. We continue to pursue new Ethernet service capabilities to give our customers more options and greater control over their network topologies. We’re excited to announce these new capabilities as part of future releases.
In the meantime, we invite you to learn more by reading the Equinix Fabric guide. In addition, you can check out the documentation for the October software release for a more detailed look at multipoint-to-multipoint connectivity via EVP-LAN.