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Equinix Brings Exchange Model to Cloud

Carol Wilson
4/30/2014
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Equinix is bringing its exchange business model and expertise to the cloud market, announcing Wednesday the Equinix Cloud Exchange, which will allow direct, on-demand access to multiple clouds and networks in 13 of its locations around the globe.

The announcement is just the latest indication of how fast the cloud is moving away from pure Internet connections to a hybrid and private-network world. (See Equinix Announces Cloud Exchange.)

Equinix Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX) has already been active in the cloud market, offering direct connections to Microsoft's Azure cloud and Amazon Web Services, as well as private network links to Verizon Terremark's cloud services. However, the Equinix Cloud Exchange is a more ambitious move, which ties Equinix International Business Exchange (IBX) data centers more tightly into the global cloud ecosystem. (See Equinix, Microsoft Team on Azure Connection and Verizon Connects Cloud With On-Demand WAN.)

For cloud service providers, tying into the Equinix Cloud Exchange enables them to reach across multiple network service providers to enterprises and cloud consumers, as well as managed service providers and systems integrators, making use of large-scale, high-bandwidth, and highly redundant connections, says Sean Iraca, director of cloud and content at Equinix.

"They can access all of that across a single infrastructure, which would allow virtual management through a single portal," Iraca says. "It allows them to run private VLANs [virtual local area networks], all through a single portal and extend their reach globally across multiple network service providers, delivering the same customer experience."

Network service providers benefit by being able to leverage the Equinix API to get dynamic bandwidth-on-demand connections into other networks, enabling scaling of networks that today requires significant development around portal integration, Iraca adds.

Enterprises benefit from being able to access cloud services over higher throughput; and the entire range of cloud users, including IT departments and systems integrators, can use the exchange for faster scaling of their cloud infrastructures in today's hybrid cloud environment.

The service is available in IBX data centers in Silicon Valley, New York, Washington, Toronto, Seattle, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Paris, with six markets to come later this year. The IBX data centers in Silicon Valley, Washington, and London offer the direct connections to AWS and Microsoft Azure.

The last service-specific exchange Equinix launched -- an Ethernet Exchange for direct carrier-to-carrier Ethernet traffic -- did not attract carriers as expected, Iraca concedes, but neither did its competitors in that space. This exchange gets back to the Equinix roots of connecting many different networks and users, much like its original Internet exchange and its financial and advertising exchanges.

"If you look at the ecosystem within these facilities, it includes 750-plus networks and 450 cloud providers all within our facilities, so it is natural for us to start to alleviate that challenge or that burden around those services," says Iraca. "Leveraging this new cloud exchange, we are simplifying and lowering that barrier to entry for these respective parties."

Equinix is poised for the Cloud Exchange to take off, in terms of being able to scale up both its infrastructure and its staffing, according to Iraca. In addition, the company is already moving to standardize on the operations side, to enable support of multiple clouds without massive customization.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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brookseven
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brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/1/2014 | 10:49:57 AM
Re: Question for you Carol...
Carol,

The Layer 3 VPN Model scaled up to two major data centers and hundreds of smaller locations.  Layer 3 is cheaper because there are no distance charges.  I would say it is the Layer 2 connection is more the choice and was only chosen because it was cheaper in the one specific case.

And yes, I agree completely that its not incidental - other than building expectations on the network greatly limits what you can do.  You then can't do things if you have specific network requirements and they are not available.  So the less you have specific network requirements, the better off you are and probably at a LOT lower cost.

seven

PS - Carol - those sites included spots in Mexico, Vietnam, Australia and South Africa.  Which is part of the problem as well...don't assume all sites are in G7 countries.
Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
5/1/2014 | 10:43:58 AM
Re: Question for you Carol...
Would the approach you took be able to scale up easily? What you are describing is using a private line connection to replace an Internet-based VPN because it made sense to do that in this instance. If you had to do a lot of these, would you make the decision on a case-by-case basis or choose to go all L2? 

I don't think in larger deployments the decision of how to network becomes incidental. 
Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
5/1/2014 | 10:41:04 AM
Re: Hmmm
Sam,

There is some cross-over with what Cisco is doing, not in the sense of competition but in the sense that they are both trying to address the same challenge or problem or opportunity.

The need to connect clouds is a way that is secure, seamless and scalable -- sorry for all the cliches here, but this is what I keep hearing -- is very real. And doing that in a way that lets an enterprise keep control without overburdening IT management is a problem that a lot of folks are trying to address, each coming at it from their own angle. 

 

Carol
brookseven
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brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/1/2014 | 10:04:52 AM
Re: Question for you Carol...
Okay Carol, let's talk about "Hybrid Cloud".  When you talk about that, I assume you mean...A Cloud Service (as I look at it) that includes both physical servers in a data center shared with virtual servers from a service provider (someone like Rackspace or Verizon or AWS or whomever).

Now, I think I ran the kind of Hybrid Cloud that you meant.  I had a Service that was accessed outside the corporate firewall (more than 1 box) by customers.  Inside the firewall, we generally used a L3 VPN using OpenVPN.  We connected one of the data centers to Corporate HQ over a more direct L2 Ethernet over SONET connection.  We had a backup that was a L3 Wireless Connection.  The L2 connection was simply there because it was lower cost than our previous L3 Connection.  We also had a customer service issue with the service provider of the L3 wireline connection.  So again, the private part of the network was incidental to what we were doing.

Somewhere here I think you have Hybrid Cloud, that combines both external and internal services.  One could treat those independently and connect them with a firewall.  Those can be implemented on the same type of infrastructure.  In fact, other than the side of the firewall the whole thing could be on the same type of infrastructure.  Private networking could be used to connect the internal services.  But again, that is like having picked up the Server Room that was on the premise and putting it into a remote data center (whether physical or virtual).

seven

 
sam masud
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sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/30/2014 | 2:36:54 PM
Hmmm
Carol,

Is there any similarity here with what Cisco says it plans to do? I'm referring to Cisco's global Intercloud initiative unveiled just about a month ago.

 
Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
4/30/2014 | 2:07:02 PM
Re: Question for you Carol...
I think you've got it!

From the beginning of the time I've covered The Cloud, there has been discussion of hybrid clouds, of private clouds, of public clouds.

So I've never seen "The Cloud" as one thing - but I understand the argument you make better now and I see that viewpoint. 
brookseven
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brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/30/2014 | 1:39:23 PM
Re: Question for you Carol...
Carol,

Then it is not The Cloud.  It is a hosted solution running over a private network.  Private networks mean that it is not The Cloud.  Which is part of the problem here.  The definition of The Cloud was about delivering virtual services over a public infrastructure....which means private can not be a part of it.

The other thing that you have described is outsourcing the location of a IT room and has been going on in the disaster recovery world for decades.

Perhaps that is why we talk past each other.  

seven
Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
4/30/2014 | 12:44:55 PM
Re: Question for you Carol...
Seven,

So you put all your apps and data in the cloud and the network becomes irrelevant? Hmm, I don't think so. 

Is the cloud availble from anywhere? Sure, if you want to be on the public Internet, but increasingly that is not where cloud connections live. 
brookseven
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brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/30/2014 | 12:36:47 PM
Re: Question for you Carol...
Carol,

I guess you and I have a completely different view of what AWS does.  Take a look at this.

http://aws.amazon.com/architecture/

The whole point of the cloud is to make the network irrelevant.  Any IP access point is the same as any other.  The point is to build applications.  All of which has nothing to do with what goes on at a carrier.

seven

 
Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
4/30/2014 | 12:26:32 PM
Re: Question for you Carol...
Most of the carrier cloud companies I'm talking to have developed capabilities beyond what AWS does and are also offering professional services for their enterprise customers or packages for SMBs. There is also the push to develop apps as a service, and to integrate network services and cloud. 

I know you are a skeptic where carrier cloud is concerned - I don't know that I have any new words of wisdom to share on that front. I do think Equinix is potentially leveling the playing field. 
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