How Colocation Providers Spur Innovation with Emerging Technology

Beyond space, power, cooling—Colocation delivers proximity to ecosystems, partners and clouds that enable modern IoT, AI and VR workloads

Wolfgang Lorenz
How Colocation Providers Spur Innovation with Emerging Technology

Emerging technologies are at the forefront of innovation. Digital leaders are adopting cutting-edge solutions that leverage the Internet of Things (IoT), AI, augmented and virtual reality, robotics and automation to accelerate innovation and differentiate themselves from competitors. These technologies generate enormous volumes of data collected by sensors, drones, cameras, microphones, even streetlamps—that companies need to process, share and store cost-effectively. It’s not easy for businesses to stand up the infrastructure needed for these projects on their own. Often, the barriers of high costs, lack of skilled human resources and an inability to scale IT make the projects difficult to approach and implement. That’s why digital leaders are looking for solutions that provide flexibility and easy scalability, that minimize costs and the need for technically skilled resources—so they can focus on the new technologies and use cases that will elevate their business.

To take full advantage of the opportunities emerging technologies present, organizations need a flexible hybrid (physical and virtual) infrastructure that gives them the agility to dynamically adapt to changing business requirements. Placing storage and processing in a colocation facility allows them to avoid the high data egress costs associated with a big data deployment in the cloud, while also enabling connectivity access to a vast ecosystem of technology and business partners with minimal latency. That is why—given the enormous data sets—emerging technology initiatives require physical space, in conjunction with direct access to cloud resources, that allow companies to quickly and easily scale as business needs change. Colocation facilities can address many of these challenges, providing a faster, easier, more cost-effective and scalable means of launching an emerging technology initiative. According to the 2022 Global Tech Trends Survey (GTTS), 68% of companies are future-proofing their businesses by moving to a third-party colocation data center provider. Colocation, especially with a provider that can augment with digital services, helps leading organizations gain access to expertise, resources, technologies, data marketplaces, networks and cloud service providers at a better TCO than they’d have building private infrastructure.

Leaders’ guide to digital infrastructure

Learn how 50%+ of the Fortune 500 have leveraged Platform Equinix to implement and capitalize on their digital-first strategies.

Leaders' Guide to Digital Infrastructure

Data generation, processing, sharing and storage

The complexity of managing large data sets can be a hindrance to the adoption of emerging technologies, and plenty of new technology initiatives have failed because of these challenges. There are four aspects of data management to consider:

  • Data generation and capture
  • Data processing
  • Data sharing
  • Data storage

Data generation often happens at edge locations, in a company’s factory, on a vehicle where sensors are capturing data or on a customer phone or tablet. Data processing, or analysis, often needs to take place close to the location where the data is generated to reduce latency, and in proximity to strategic partners and service providers. Today, many companies share data in data marketplaces with ecosystem partners and customers to enable greater collaboration and opportunities. Finally, data storage should be located close to where the data is needed for fast access—whether on-premises in core or edge metros or via the cloud. Throughout the data management lifecycle, companies that are adopting emerging technology solutions need infrastructure that supports a frictionless data flow.

Colocation providers can help companies tackle these data challenges. They offer the physical space needed for data processing, sharing and storage, with greater reliability, security and sustainability than private data centers can achieve alone. And by putting businesses in proximity to a large, interconnected ecosystem of other innovators, colocation can foster the key strategic partnerships that are central to successful emerging technology initiatives.

The best colocation providers can augment and supplement their physical space with digital services. Network Edge services like VNF platforms with routers, firewalls, SD-WAN technology, load balancers and other virtual services can be used for ultrafast, flexible and OPEX-based network connectivity in places where organizations don’t have IT staff. This technology can be used to set up virtual points of presence throughout the world within minutes and is ideally suited to establish edge sites on demand. Similarly, bare metal services can be used to mitigate supply chain issues and enable private clouds on demand with no costs for server infrastructure upfront.

Let’s look at a few examples of how colocation is helping leading companies enable innovation with emerging technologies.

Accelerating AI learning for vehicle automation systems

The auto parts manufacturer Continental is using AI and automation to deliver on the promise of connected vehicles with its advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) test fleet. Continental’s vehicles produce vast IoT sensor data across different geographies, as well as mapping and on-vehicle data processing. The company needed to store and process the data in a central repository that was fast, easy to access, secure and minimized data transfer latency. Continental colocated in five Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers to deploy and scale its infrastructure to support its AI supercomputing cluster for its ADAS fleet. It also partnered closely with NVIDIA and IBM on the project, so access to key ecosystem partners via Platform Equinix® was pivotal to its success.

Modernizing logistics and supply chains with drones, robots, IoT and AR/VR

Germany-based global logistics company FIEGE handles supply chain design, orchestration and operations for its customers. Next-generation technologies such as drones, robots, IoT, virtual reality and digital twins have become critical to its operations. As a result, it must manage large volumes of data across disparate locations and with multiple partners and customers. FIEGE relocated its infrastructure to an Equinix IBX data center to allow for better access to ecosystem partners, greater agility and higher infrastructure reliability. Moving to a colocation solution helped FIEGE future-proof its infrastructure and foster greater collaboration and innovation with critical supply chain partners. FIEGE used Equinix Fabric™ software-defined interconnection to connect with strategic partners, internet service providers and cloud providers. Collectively, these partner companies are opening up greater opportunities to shape the future of land, fleet, rail, vessel and aviation logistics.

Integrating AI, IoT and mixed reality into engineering and construction

Engineering and construction firm CDM Smith relies on capturing and analyzing extensive amounts of field data from drones and IoT sensors. It manages more than 1.75 petabytes of distributed data that it needs to quickly process to create 3D models, requiring low-latency cloud access. CDM Smith needed a hybrid multicloud solution, so it interconnected its offices to a distributed infrastructure in Equinix IBX data centers, where it could access Microsoft Azure and AWS cloud services as well as SaaS platforms via Equinix Fabric. The colocation solution is helping CDM Smith innovate with emerging technologies to deliver more value to its customers.

These examples all involve emerging technologies and large data stores. And all three illustrate the benefits of greater flexibility, scalability and reliability—as well as access to an interconnected ecosystem—that companies gain by leveraging colocation in their next-gen technology initiatives.

Harness the power of colocation on Platform Equinix

In addition to offering the physical space companies need for emerging tech projects, the colocation data center services at Equinix provide resilient power, cooling and security to customers around the world, in the locations most relevant for their business. Colocation also helps companies tap into the sustainability commitments of the colocation provider. In 2021, Equinix achieved 95% renewable coverage for our global data center energy consumption.

It’s clear that companies need the right digital infrastructure platform to support the data requirements of emerging technologies—from low-latency data transmission and processing to low-cost storage. And as more businesses move to hybrid multicloud infrastructures that are distributed and interconnected, they’re adopting more digital infrastructure solutions and services to help spur innovation. According to the 2022 GTTS, more than two-thirds (71%) of IT decision-makers across the globe are moving toward service model strategies. Digital infrastructure services, such as Network Edge and Equinix Metal™, automatically provide virtual network, server and storage services on demand using an OPEX rather than CAPEX model, saving companies from having to purchase costly and hard-to-get hardware. Achieving greater flexibility without high CAPEX investments on Platform Equinix helps customers to respond more quickly to next-gen technology trends.

By leveraging colocation at Equinix, IT organizations can set up global interconnection and digital infrastructure services more quickly and easily, and benefit from the reliability, scalability and sustainability that have been optimized for businesses around the world.

To learn more about your company can harness the advantages of colocation with Platform Equinix, read the Leaders’ Guide to Digital Infrastructure.


Avatar photo
Wolfgang Lorenz Senior Global Solution Architect, Equinix EMEA
Subscribe to the Equinix Blog