Choosing the Right Connectivity for Your Distributed Architecture

Deliver the best possible user experience with a combination of physical and virtual connections in the right locations

Ted Kawka
Choosing the Right Connectivity for Your Distributed Architecture

Running a successful business is no longer a solo act. Instead, it takes an ecosystem of partners and providers to create new products; build applications; manage product information, inventory and end user data; build in payment processing; package physical products and schedule package delivery. To say that conducting business in a digital economy is complex is an understatement. And, as Tony Robbins once said, “Complexity is the enemy of execution.”[i]

Managing complexity requires companies to ensure proximity to customers, employees, partners and providers with continuous connectivity to IT infrastructure. Businesses also require secure, seamless connectivity to applications, workloads and data positioned across clouds, colocation data centers and on-premises data centers to ensure the high performance of their applications.

Delivering the optimal experience for customers and employees involves strategic placement of physical and virtual connections in the right locations. When someone downloads your app, you only get one opportunity to make the right impression with a seamless experience; therefore, low latency is crucial. If the app underperforms, the user can easily delete it from their device and try another one. In the Equinix 2023 Global Tech Trends Survey, 81% of IT leaders said improving customer experience was a future-proofing priority, and 78% ranked improving employee experience as another top priority.

In my previous blog post, I discussed when to use physical versus virtual connections. Today, I’ll focus on explaining how using these two types of connectivity together for specific scenarios helps improve the user experience and solve the complexity of distributed architecture for flexibility, agility and speed.

Determine who, what and where you need to connect

The first step in designing your distributed architecture is to assess your current connectivity requirements, including what’s working, what needs improvement and what you’ll require in the future. Make sure you consider these factors:

  • Location density of partners, providers, customers and workers: Where do you connect with each—within the same colocation data center, at the edge, in particular regions or worldwide?
  • Current infrastructure distribution for applications, workloads, stored data and at the edge: Does your infrastructure include one or more clouds, hyperscalers, colocation facilities or on-premises data centers?
  • Geographic expansion, mergers and acquisitions or geo-redundancy: What are the potential business initiatives that could require connectivity?

Then, think about the various types of connectivity required to address these factors. Do you need physical connections, virtual connections, including interconnection and virtual network functions, the internet, a blended ISP solution or a few of these connections?

Simplify your distributed architecture

Proximity, security, performance and scalability requirements are all factors in designing distributed architecture that’s flexible, agile and fast. Do you need cloud adjacency, dedicated hardware, network access to ecosystem partners or something else?

Physical connection options, such as fiber, and virtual options, such as software-defined interconnection services, make it possible to establish connections between data centers in a single metro location or worldwide—all on demand from a customer portal. Here are a few examples of what’s possible for businesses to set up as physical or virtual connections:

  • Link physical hardware to another customer, partner or provider located in multiple data centers within a metro via fiber or software-defined interconnection.
  • Connect to cloud on-ramps to easily access workloads and data.
  • Reach partners, cloud and network providers in other colocation data centers to easily share data while meeting data and compliance regulations.
  • Ensure proximity to customers and employees by deploying infrastructure in multiple hubs.
  • Set up direct connections to multiple carrier networks in the same or connected data centers.
  • Exchange internet traffic or access market-specific ISPs.
  • Set up and connect virtual network functions to avoid supply chain procurement challenges.

Businesses can set up these connections without making long-term commitments to accommodate fluctuations in demand that are seasonal or event-driven, such as Black Friday.

Different businesses require specific connectivity in the right places

Let’s look at three use cases that demonstrate how the right connectivity strengthens the customer experience.

Video conferencing – A videoconferencing company based in Australia plans to expand into EMEA and North America. To ensure seamless performance, the company must create virtual servers in multiple hubs to run platform instances within those regions that users can access via the internet, carrier networks or both. Connecting directly to network carriers within these hubs will further improve the user experience.

Convenience store digital food and beverage orders – A company with 2,000 convenience stores offers a digital food and beverage pickup service. Customers place orders via their mobile devices and transmit the order to the store network, where it accesses the application logic. The application runs in one public cloud and accesses data stored in another using virtual connections. The company’s inventory and ordering systems connect to supplier systems to streamline supply chain management. The company created direct connections to the carrier networks to shorten the distance to the application running in the cloud, thus improving performance.

Digital sales events – Events such as Black Friday, Prime Day in July and others tend to jam up the internet with massive website traffic and huge volumes of transactions simultaneously taking place. In addition to using the internet, eCommerce vendors can set up direct connections into any carrier networks dynamically to both increase bandwidth and create the shortest possible timing for traffic. Users can easily search for deals on their phones, make purchase choices, update their carts and complete their orders seamlessly.

As you can see, there are a few common threads that apply to these diverse use cases. There’s the value of setting up dedicated physical connections to reach businesses in another data center within the same metro, establishing direct connections to network carriers and connecting to partners and providers via secure, software-defined interconnection, in addition to the internet.

Set up physical and virtual connections from a single portal

Whether you require regional or worldwide connections, Platform Equinix® provides the foundational infrastructure—data centers, interconnection and digital infrastructure services—with 240+ Equinix IBX® data centers spread across 70+ metros on six continents. Thousands of companies worldwide have discovered the advantages of incorporating our interconnection services and digital services into their distributed architecture. We make it easy to set up new connections or adjust existing physical or virtual connection settings on our self-service customer portal. And our APIs automate integrations for minimal human intervention.

To learn more about how enterprises and service providers use Equinix physical and virtual connections to achieve their digital transformation initiatives, read the Leaders’ Guide to Digital Infrastructure.

And, if you’d like some expert guidance, reach out to our Global Solutions Architects, who engage with customers daily to help them plan and design their IT infrastructure.


[i] Tony Robbins, MONEY: Master the Game (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014).

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