Equinix, the operator of 100 data center/telecom hubs, wants to make going to the cloud a pattern for many enterprise communications.
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Equinix is launching what it calls the Interconnection Oriented Architecture in order to provide Equinix data center communication hubs that serve as an interconnect between the enterprise network and the cloud, multiple data sources, and anywhere else an enterprise user wishes to go.
Enterprises that want to make services readily available to customers, access outside sources of information, or merely use Oracle SaaS applications need to rethink how they build their network connections. Network administrators are used to building out one connection at a time, sometimes relying on the corporate WAN, sometimes on the Internet, sometimes on a specialized private line connection to a key data source or other partner company.
Connections to Amazon Web Services or other cloud providers are often done over the Internet, with the Internet routing system determining the best route and how many hops a workload will need to make. That's not such good thinking any more, claims Tony Bishop, VP of vertical strategy at Equinix.
"You have to think interconnection first," he said in an interview. While it's possible to obtain customers anywhere and get to a cloud computing supplier from anywhere, "you still have to bring the physical world together," he said.
When you do, you can shorten the distance to customers, speed up response times, and even move your key e-commerce application closer to its users. Not incidentally, you also make use of an Equinix data center when you do so with Interconnection Oriented Architecture, but Bishop tried to illustrate what benefits he was talking about.
Equinix's data center hubs have already been recognized as key pivot points for workloads on their way to the cloud. Equinix is a primary supplier of AWS's Direct Connect high-speed, private-line service, as well as Microsoft Azure's ExpressRoute and IBM SoftLayer's Direct Link. It has assembled a service for customers called Cloud Exchange in which a customer can establish one network link to the Equinix hub, then be switched from that port to a cloud of choice.
The Interconnection Oriented Architecture follows the same idea, but the destination can be any target that the enterprise needs to connect with, Bishop said. Each hub typically has 40-60 telecom carriers meeting in the facility, sometimes more. The exact list varies from location to location; Equinix now operates a total of 100 data center/telecom hubs around the world.
Many companies run software-as-a-service (SaaS) for customers in their own data centers. They would cut many thousandths of a second off response times if they hosted the application on the Equinix servers that were already closest to large concentrations of customers.
Even the performance of direct, private-line connections between partner companies can be improved, depending on how they were originally implemented. Such a connection through an Equinix center might offer a choice of direct connections to the partner, as opposed to the company's pre-selected, preferred network carriers, he said.
Equinix is offering blueprints that codify what "interconnection first" means, as well as playbooks that illustrate how it can be implemented at Equinix.com/IOA, effective Monday, December 14.
As enterprises make greater use of the cloud, they will rethink the best architecture for connecting to outside applications, data sources, and partners, as well as infrastructure-as-a-service, Bishop predicted. Equinix, with its roots in networked data centers in major cities, wants to be a position to further that re-architecting of the corporate net.
Forester Research has taken a look at Equinix’s claims of reduced latency, increased security, and predictable performance for its interconnection-first strategy. Forrester's conclusions are in a 23-page "total economic impact" report. (Registration required.) Among other things, Forrester said there is a predictable return on investment in 4.5 months and a 45% reduction in application or network latencies through the interconnection approach. Readers may decide for themselves whether the details on which those conclusions were reached fit their own experience.
Microsoft's Office 365 SaaS application and Oracle SaaS applications will be among those that will take advantage of placing the SaaS host closer to customers, Bishop said.
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Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive ... View Full Bio
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