What’s on the Horizon for Time as a Service (TaaS) Solutions?

TaaS is replacing other time synchronization approaches, thanks to a host of security and reliability enhancements—and there’s more to come

Ramki Ramakrishnan
Charlie MacKenzie
What’s on the Horizon for Time as a Service (TaaS) Solutions?

Some of the greatest minds in history—physicists, electrical engineers, even philosophers—have studied and theorized about time. For IT operations in a digital world, time is truly of the essence—perhaps more than ever before as more companies adopt hybrid multicloud infrastructures. The ability to accurately and reliably synchronize time in your IT systems can have important implications for security, operations and regulatory compliance. It’s no longer a nice optional feature; it’s indispensable.

Time is also one of the most precise and difficult attributes to manage in an IT environment, and the industry has come up with a variety of solutions to address it, including DIY approaches and time synchronization over the internet. But time synchronization is now available as a fully managed service that can be delivered on demand in minutes, just like other as-a-service solutions.

Precise, Reliable, Secure Time as a Service

Get more information and technical specifications for Equinix Precision Time, a secure PTP and NTP Time as a Service for distributed enterprise applications on Platform Equinix®.

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Why TaaS is winning out over traditional methods

Across industries—from financial services to gaming to manufacturing and more—precise, reliable, secure time synchronization has become critical. The amazing thing about Time as a Service (TaaS) is that it’s so much easier to consume than the traditional time synchronization approaches companies have used. You can deploy it in minutes without having to purchase hardware or have specially trained staff. Using the public internet for time sync, on the other hand, comes with significant security risks and greater susceptibility to DDoS attacks. And DIY options can be costly and difficult to build and maintain, with significant CAPEX investment.

We’re partial to TaaS since it offers microsecond-level accuracy with excellent performance, reliability and security. Not only that, but it’s delivered in an on-demand, user-friendly consumption model, so you can start and stop the service as needed.

Recent and upcoming TaaS improvements

The best way to share some of the exciting changes in the TaaS space is for us to talk about the TaaS solution we know best. Equinix Precision Time™ is an on-demand TaaS solution available on Platform Equinix® to address time synchronization in on-premises deployments or distributed cloud environments. We’ve made a lot of exciting feature enhancements in the past year to bolster the reliability and security of the service, and we have more for the future to keep pushing time synchronization technology forward to support the needs of enterprise customers.

More and more companies are taking advantage of the opportunity to use TaaS to synchronize their IT systems, and in 2022, the number of customers using our TaaS solution more than doubled. We’re expecting even more growth this year as we expand our timing infrastructure to additional geographies.

Here are some of the security and reliability enhancements we’ve made in the past year to help Equinix customers synchronize their IT systems:

  • Jamming and spoofing threat mitigation.
    Attacks on global national satellite system (GNSS) signals, including GPS, can threaten network infrastructure timing and cause potential harm to your company. Equinix Precision Time now uses a backup atomic clock to mitigate GNSS failure due to jamming and spoofing as well as to monitor live GNSS signal for threats, giving you peace of mind that you’re protected from these vulnerabilities. Read more about jamming and spoofing mitigation.
  • Bolstered monitoring and alerting.
    Precision Time generates real-time alerts when accuracy levels exceed thresholds to ensure your teams can take immediate action.
  • MD5 authentication protocol implementation.
    For Network Time Protocol (NTP) customers, MD5 authentication adds a layer of security by guaranteeing packets from a valid NTP client or server, further enhancing the security and resiliency of the service.
  • Fully active-active portal and application services.
    With active-active clusters, Precision Time delivers reliable performance, now with 99.999% availability.
  • Support for multiple Network Edge devices.
    With more and more companies looking to move their infrastrcutre to the edge, Equinix Precision Time’s compatability with numerous Network Edge devices allows you to reduce the complexity of time sync across hybrid and multicloud environments, which helps virtual customers who don’t have a physical presence within Equinix.

What’s next for TaaS?

The ability to accurately and reliably synchronize time in your IT systems … is no longer a nice optional feature; it’s indispensable.”

Reliability, security and accuracy are crucial in a TaaS service. To that end, TaaS solutions are continuously being improved. We’re planning several further enhancements of Precision Time in 2023 and beyond. To name a few:

  • Expansion of timing infrastructure into more geographies for geopolitical diversity.
    Customers have told us they prefer to get their time from local sources for certain applications, so we’ll continue expanding to new locations to give you options when choosing geographic redundancy for deployments. Sydney, Singapore, Amsterdam and Toronto are the next locations we plan to add to support geographic diversity.
  • Further improvements of Precision Time Protocol (PTP) service accuracy.
    Precision Time currently delivers typical PTP accuracy of 1 to 10 microseconds, and we’re committed to continuing to improve performance to address the needs of applications in finance, broadcast and communications infrastructure.
  • Traceability to national timing labs and GNSS independence.
    Equinix Precision Time is planning to deliver a GNSS-independent time service with traceability to national labs in key regions, which hasn’t yet been done in our industry at scale commercially.
  • Integration with Equinix Metal and Equinix Fabric gateway to support broader adoption.
    We will be adding more integrations that help Equinix customers support their cloud networking infrastructure.

We’re actively working with standards bodies, government labs and key customers worldwide to deliver a seamless, easy-to-consume TaaS solution supporting stringent accuracy needs, new protocol variants and profiles to address emerging application synchronization needs. No doubt, as applications and services move faster across distributed infrastructure, TaaS will keep progressing to meet those needs.

Enterprise-wide timing synchronization

The Equinix Precision Time team is continually working to improve our TaaS solution to provide greater reliability, security and accuracy. Thanks to our recent and upcoming enhancements, Precision Time is one of the best options companies can use for accurate time synchronization for distributed enterprise environments.

Learn more about how Equinix Precision Time can support time synchronization for your business by reading the Equinix Precision Time data sheet.

 

More and more companies are taking advantage of the opportunity to use TaaS to synchronize their IT systems.”
Ramki Ramakrishnan
Ramki Ramakrishnan Director Product Management, Equinix Precision Time Service
Charlie MacKenzie
Charlie MacKenzie Product Marketing Analyst
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