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3/28/2012
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Equinix Offers Private Cloud With A Twist

Highly secure, highly networked Equinix facilities in Secaucus, N.J. and Chicago let enterprise customers install their own server racks, then manage them as private infrastructure-as-a-service operations.

Equinix, which supplies data center facilities around the world, has started offering enterprises the option of establishing private cloud operations in two of its facilities.

The large Equinix facilities in Secaucus, N.J., outside New York City, and Chicago will give customers the option of installing their server racks, then managing them as private infrastructure-as-a-service operations under Tier3 enabling software, Enterprise Cloud Platform. Tier3 supplies data center operational software that claims 99.999% enterprise application availability in a clustered server setting.

The Secaucus and Chicago centers were the first to get the Enterprise Cloud Platform option because they are close to major financial services centers. Customers typically choose an Equinix facility to be close to both networking and metropolitan business hubs.

The private cloud option will be added to Equinix facilities in London and Frankfurt by the end of the first half of the year, and a site in the Asia-Pacific region by the end of the year. Equinix has Asian facilities in Tokyo, Singapore, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, as well as an Australian center in Sydney.

Equinix is noted for its 22 modern data center sites in North America, which house a wide variety of network access points. When Amazon Web Services wished to give its EC2 customers a direct pipeline to a private data center and networks, it established its AWS Direct Connect service with Equinix. The two Equinix centers offering the private cloud option, however, are not equipped with Direct Connect.

[ Learn more about the impact that elastic cloud computing will play in the financial services industry. See Cloud Plays Disruptive Role In Financial Services. ]

Equinix is a colocation data center, where customers establish their own hardware, then manage it remotely. In addition to physical facilities, power, and security, Equinix provides access to 690 different communications options at its Secaucus facility.

"We see a large appetite for private cloud services in financial service-intensive locations," said Chris Sharp, Equinix general manager, in an interview. The Enterprise Cloud Platform will be competing with a nearby New York Stock Exchange data center in Mahwah, N.J., where companies may colocate their gear or rent time on NYSE-provided infrastructure in the cloud portion of its data center.

Financial services companies like having access to cloud computing facilities for their trading and customer facing applications, provided the facilities impose low latency. Usually a cloud computing setup has compute capacity in reserve that can be brought online to serve high user demand when an application or trading system needs it. A bank or insurance company might locate a trading system in Secaucus, connected by a private network link to nearby NYSE, and gain a few milliseconds of trading advantage over other banks and insurance companies that are launching trades from further away.

Equinix gives each customer its own virtual network or networks, with other customers unable to intrude on the capacity due to the logical boundaries. Firewalls, in both hardware and software appliance form, and other security measures can be installed around a customer's systems to further guarantee isolation, Sharp said.

This Equinix approach with Tier3 software mixes what have previously been considered separate computing models. Colocation facilities usually provide strong network access in a major metropolitan area. Infrastructure-as-a-service in the form of a private cloud gives a company's authorized users all the access they need to compute cycles, when they need them.

The pay-as-you go nature of the cloud makes ROI calculation seem easy. It's not. Also in the new, all-digital Cloud Calculations InformationWeek supplement: Why infrastructure-as-a-service is a bad deal. (Free registration required.)

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