Equinix leverages AWS relationship in ambitious strategy to link data centres

Last week’s announcements of an expanded relationship between AWS and Equinix are fundamental to a new strategy announcement that will [eventually] enable organizations to make connections between Equinix IBX data centres.

Kaushik Joshi, Global Managing Director, Strategic Alliances at Equinix

Interconnect vendor Equinix capped off a week of news today with the announcement of the direct physical and virtual connection of their data centres, enabling connections on demand from any location. It will be rolled out over the coming months, and will leverage four new Equinix International Business Exchange [IBX] data centres, for a total of 21 globally. One of the new centres is in Toronto, while the others are in Europe, in Helsinki, Madrid and Manchester. That expansion, made public last week at the AWS re:Invent event in Las Vegas, leverages Equinix’s collaboration with AWS and the AWS Direct Connect service, which provides superior service through a direct connection to AWS rather than using the public Internet. The importance of the AWS relationship to Equinix was also emphasized in a third announcement, in which Equinix becomes one of the select partners to achieve the new AWS  Networking Competency out of the gate.

“We have been partners with Amazon since their very beginning, working together as suppliers,”
said Kaushik ‘KJ’ Joshi, Global Managing Director, Strategic Alliances at Equinix. “Our strategic relationship started in November 2016. We became an Advanced Technology Partner in April 2017. AWS evaluated our portfolio and how integrated we are with them, and gave us two of their four networking competencies, an Infrastructure one and an Integrator one. They examined our technical competence, determining that we have over 100 people certified on AWS. They evaluated our networking engineering team, and also determined that our global solution architects could articulate our joint value proposition We also had to show at least five public case studies of our joint success. As well, AWS evaluated our customer portal, in particular how easy it was to use.”

The networking partnership is significant for marketing and branding purposes, but Joshi said that it goes beyond that.

“The Networking Competency will open us up to new customers, because we are recommended by AWS,” he said. “This will bring us new logos, that we did not have access to. However, it also gives us access to additional joint MDF funds, and we get advanced notification of the product road map, which is important so we can develop products in tandem with AWS. We now have a dedicated, named Partner Development Manager we work with as well.”

The second announcement made last week at the AWS event was Equinix’s expansion of its AWS relationship with the extension of direct, private connectivity to the AWS Direct Connect service to the four Equinix IBX data centres in Toronto and Europe.

“There are several ways to get a network connection,” Joshi said. “One is through open APIs. Another is through a network provider. The third, which we are doing here, is providing a private connection for AWS without having to go through the public Internet.”

Joshi said that the private connection is the superior option.

“It provides better security, better performance, and the costs are more predictable, with a flat fee for the connection,” he said. “The cost of the public Internet is 8 to 10 cents a gig, and for private connection, it is about 2 cents a gig. More people don’t have a private connection simply because of a lack of awareness. The private connection is also preferable for customers who are either required or who simply prefer to adhere to data sovereignty practices.”

Joshi said that the data sovereignty issue has become important in Canada, not just for Canadian based organizations, but U.S. ones as well.

“A substantial number of U.S. customers with operations in Canada want customers to have access to data in Canada, and want a local connection. Adobe, for instance, would like customers to access data locally because they are resident in Canada, to make sure that consumer data is kept in Canada and not in the U.S.” He said that Equinix has been told the same thing by other customers, including a bank, an insurance company and a media company that does streaming.

“This will make it easier for U.S.-based customers to deploy in Canada, as well as Canadian customers who want to access services available in AWS regions in North America outside Canada,” Joshi added.

Both these announcements from late last week are foundational elements in the major strategic announcement made this morning, Equinix is announcing the next phase in their Platform Equinix strategy through the gradual unfolding of a direct and virtual connection of their IBX centres.

James Staten, Global Head Vertical Market Development and Strategy at Equinix

“What we are announcing is an ECX [Equinix Cloud Exchange] Fabric that also allows you to connect to anyone, anywhere,” said James Staten, Global Head Vertical Market Development and Strategy at Equinix.

At this stage, the announcement is still more concept than reality. However, over the coming months, Equinix will announce a series of coverage, connectivity and service initiatives that let customers rapidly scale their digital businesses through a dynamic data center and interconnection platform. The idea is to allow customers to customize their connectivity to partners, customers and suppliers through an interface that provides all the benefits companies have come to expect from “as-a-service” models, including real-time provisioning through a portal or API, pay-as-you-go billing increments and elastic connectivity between metros. The over 1,000 participants on ECX Fabric include all the major cloud service providers and major SaaS providers like Salesforce, SAP and ServiceNow.

“It will be a while before we can connect the entire globe that way,” Staten said. “However, in North America, we can interact between the centres much more easily, and we will expand this in 2018.”

Staten said that this kind of extension of private connection services will eventually see private connectivity for digital enterprises displace the Internet, because it makes so much more sense.

“There are so many good reasons you would want to use private, rather than the public Internet,” he said. “By 2020, the bandwidth consumed by these interconnect connections will be 2x the Internet, up from 35-40 per cent of the Internet today. The growth is really related to security regulations, and performance, rather than compliance. But while organizations aren’t doing it specifically for regulation, if that makes them compliant, that’s great.”