Over the course of our respective careers, we have both seen massive changes in how the world uses technology. From servers kept in “the IT closet” and dial-up modems at home to cloud computing and Starlink in the yard, the last 20 years certainly saw a lot of change! Users today have the power of massive-scale clouds quite literally at their fingertips. Accelerated by the cloud native and open source movements, alongside maturing DevOps practices, software that was once difficult to set up and deploy is now highly automatable and portable. We’ve come a long way.
Recent years have demonstrated technology’s seemingly limitless potential (mRNA vaccines or the day-to-day tools that enable a global remote workforce) as well as our significant reliance on it (the recent chip shortage.) Technology, in its broadest sense, is simply no longer optional. And with even more substantial challenges ahead, such as the energy transition and geo-political conflict, one can quickly see how critical it will be to deploy and manage the right technology, operated in the right place and connected to the right things.
Equinix’s mission is to enable innovations that enrich our work, life and planet. The neutral business model at the heart of our company is something we take very seriously, and it is the foundation of the trust we’ve earned with over 10,000 customers. This model helped create the internet as we know it. But over the last decade or so, even as technology became ever more critical to our lives, using the cutting-edge stuff that powers it all in a global, sustainable and cost-effective manner at scale became the privilege of too few.
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We have been working to change this with a straightforward formula: simplify and automate access to fundamental, powerful and sustainably operated technology that’s connected to as many networks, companies and clouds as possible. We call this physical infrastructure at software speed.
It may sound simple, but it’s anything but easy. That’s why we’ve invested billions in our physical platform, the software surrounding it, and the relationships with partners that make it all so magical. What’s exciting is that we’re starting to see how our customers can leverage these digital infrastructure primitives, creating outcomes that simply haven’t been possible before.
Examples of customers with whom our vision of automated physical infrastructure resonates include Children’s Cancer Institute, NAVER Cloud, Nokia, NVIDIA, Orange, RedHat and VR Group.
We’re not alone in seeing the growing need for this infrastructure consumption model. One key driver is that companies want to be able to rapidly spin up dedicated compute resources—and this demand is only picking up pace. IDC calls this emerging category of services “Dedicated Cloud IaaS,” and expects the category to grow from $1.6B in 2022 to $14B in 2025. That’s a 106% CAGR! Many companies out there need to draw from an ecosystem of providers to assemble infrastructure that combines their preferred technologies in an automated fashion and consume it as a service.
Forrester Consulting recently sat down for interviews with leaders at six of our customers to better understand the value of our digital services. (They did this as part of an Equinix-commissioned Total Economic Impact study meant to quantify the benefits of our services.) The results were aggregated and combined to form a single composite organization. The customers told Forrester that the services gave them more choice in how they scaled and made regional compliance easier. Even more importantly, the customers said they could now get services that drive value for their end users and partners up and running much faster than before. The study concluded that Equinix Digital Services help customers improve speed to market tenfold.
The work continues, of course, and we’re constantly enhancing the experience with new features and improvements on existing ones and bringing these services to more and more locations globally. More on that later. First, let’s get some basics out of the way.
Cloudifying Dedicated Infrastructure
Equinix Digital Services allow customers to leverage the power of Equinix’s global data center and interconnection platform in a cloudy, automated, API-driven fashion. The foundation of this “automated colocation” experience includes:
- Equinix Metal®: automated bare metal servers and storage appliances
- Network Edge: virtual networking devices available on demand
- Equinix Fabric®: a software-defined interconnection platform
Our digital services are deployed in our global IBX® data centers—right next to all the hyperscale cloud on-ramps and thousands of ecosystem partners. This physical proximity enables customers to provide low-latency private connections to cloud providers and other ecosystem participants. As a result, the services are becoming an essential part of our customers’ cloud-first strategies.
They are also a way for companies to shift to an operated model to conserve CAPEX and talent costs and to circumnavigate today’s supply chain challenges—all while maintaining complete control of their infrastructure stack.
According to the Forrester TEI study:
Making the decision to move to the cloud is a complicated and expensive prospect for companies looking to deliver a seamless, real-time experience for employees and consumers. Equinix Digital Services simplifies the journey from a centralized to distributed network infrastructure to help companies improve speed to market, localize their data, decrease operational downtime, and lower costs compared to traditional on-premises facilities or cloud services.”
New Customers and Partners
To illustrate how companies use Equinix Digital Services, here are a few recent examples:
- Orange is using Equinix Metal to bring its SD-WAN, CDN and other business services to new markets in weeks rather than months.
- Nokia’s Digital Twin as a Services (DTaaS) solution is built on Equinix Metal. Acting as a bridge between the physical and the digital worlds, a digital twin accumulates data about a system over time which can be used to build intelligence on top using analytics, physics and machine learning.
- Spectrotel is using Network Edge virtual devices (SD-WAN gateways and cloud-based firewalls) and Equinix Fabric to power its recently launched secure SD-WAN service for its customers.
- Friend MTS recently used Equinix Fabric, Equinix Metal and Network Edge virtual routers to temporarily set up private connections between its customer, a major sports broadcaster, and its content security and anti-piracy platform running on AWS for a multi-day broadcast of a sporting event.
Technology vendors are recognizing an opportunity to leverage Equinix’s global footprint and interconnection ecosystem to execute their own as a Service strategies without having to operate the infrastructure themselves. Again, here are some highlights to help illustrate this:
- Just last week VMware announced a partnership to offer VMware Cloud on Equinix Metal, unlocking a new option for consuming its ubiquitous infrastructure software as a service, extending our public cloud VMware environments on-prem.
- Dell Technologies, which already offers its PowerEdge servers as a service on Equinix Metal, earlier this year also launched Flash storage and hyperconverged infrastructure systems on the Metal platform.
- F5 Networks launched its NGINX Plus load balancer this year as a virtual Network Edge device, enabling quick and agile, globally scalable expansion for ecommerce companies.
- We’re working with Aviatrix to launch its multicloud networking technology on Network Edge before the end of this year. (This will bring the Network Edge catalog to a total of 10 vendors and 16 devices.)
We Keep Building
All this customer and partner momentum is great news for our business. We don’t take this momentum for granted; to keep it going, we’re always adding new features, improving existing ones and expanding our digital services’ geographic reach. Here’s what we’ve been up to lately on those fronts:
- New Digital Services Metros: Next year, we’re planning to bring our entire digital services portfolio to seven new metros, bringing the total to 31. Throughout 2023 we’ll launch Equinix Metal in Mexico City and Miami in the Americas; Dublin, Manchester and Milan in EMEA; and Mumbai in Asia-Pacific. We’re also bringing Network Edge to Atlanta, Manchester, Mexico City, Mumbai and Seoul.
- Expanded SaaS Ecosystem: Equinix Fabric provides access to 200+ global cloud on-ramps from AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Oracle Cloud, Alibaba Cloud and IBM Cloud. But the number of direct connections to SaaS providers on Equinix Fabric continues to grow as well. Our most popular SaaS endpoints include Cisco Webex, Akamai, SAP, Salesforce and Zoom.
- Simplified Experience: We’ve expanded our technical support teams and brought together key information about our digital services at deploy.equinix.com. You will find pricing, product documentation, self-service trial signup and account creation, live-chat support and more on this new website.
- Global Digital Specialist Team: We are forming a new global digital specialist team across sales, solutions architecture and customer success to support our customers and partners as they adopt Equinix Digital Services.
- Connectivity On Demand: The recently launched Fabric VC—Metal Billed feature makes interconnection between Equinix Metal and any endpoint on Equinix Fabric simpler. It also lowers the minimum Equinix Fabric usage increment to one hour and consolidates Equinix Metal and Equinix Fabric charges into a single bill.
- Liquid-Cooled High-Density Compute: To help our customers and ourselves reach our sustainability goals, we have invested greatly in direct-to-chip liquid cooling. Earlier this year, we deployed our first liquid-cooled Equinix Metal production systems in one of our New York data centers. We believe the energy efficiency advantages of this technology and its promise to enable heat reuse will play a crucial role in building sustainable data centers of the future.
The computing infrastructure industry is maturing. After a decade of all-or-nothing discussions about cloud versus on-prem, the conversation is now more nuanced. Specific application needs increasingly drive infrastructure decisions. The trend is toward maximum choice and flexibility, the ability to mix and match different service providers and types of infrastructure and maximize automation.
We’re excited about what this means for Equinix, whose global network of state-of-the-art data centers and an interconnection ecosystem that’s unmatched in scale form the ideal substrate for building these heterogeneous architectures. Our Digital Services vision is to make activating them a delight. Visit deploy.equinix.com to see for yourself!
 IDC, “Dedicated Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, 2019–2025: Market Trends and Outlook,” Doc # US48005321, June 2021.