Data Center Infrastructure

Digital Realty: IBM Deal a Proximity Play

"Proximity" might be the best one-word answer to what today's announcement by Digital Realty and IBM Cloud delivers to business customers. An expansion of dedicated private access to the IBM Cloud in Digital Realty Service Exchange facilities in 15 global metro areas means enterprises will have easier access to IBM applications, including analytics and artificial intelligence, and the ability to colocate their own data in a facility where interconnection is also easily possible. (See Digital Realty, IBM Expand Cloud Connections.)

All of that adds up to a better on-ramp experience for IBM Cloud and managed services, says Gabe Montanti, IBM Cloud Global Offering executive. And while it has become commonplace for data center/colocation facilities to provide such on-ramps, Digital Realty Trust Inc. CTO Chris Sharp makes the case for some unique features in this Service Exchange arrangement, which is dedicated private access.

"It's about efficiency and what that means is the proximity by which you consume these IBM services," Sharp tells Light Reading in an interview. In the 15 new markets, "We are able to support colo and scale, and then the broad portfolio of interconnection products we have to tie all of that together."

That means an enterprise can colocate its compute environment at the Digital Realty facility "and have a strand of glass just a cross-connected away to achieve one the most efficient high-throughput hybrid cloud environments out there," he says. "It really allows customers to future proof their deployment in a unique environment."

From the IBM perspective, this expansion of the Digital Realty relationship allows "high-value workloads like AI, analytics and blockchain" to be deployed in a low-latency way, placing those production workloads within the metro and not requiring customers to ship data back and forth to a network point-of-presence, Montanti says. Service Exchange provides both physical and virtual connections in a single point as well as visibility and reporting capabilities.

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Having these capabilities closer to the customer "is very important, depending on the type of applications," he comments. "There are certain types of applications which need extreme low latency, and being able to do that without having to traverse across a network to long-haul to a data center that is 300 to 400 miles away, that's the piece we can enable and it is a very important piece of portfolio and value proposition."

The direct access to IBM Cloud will now be available via more than 70 Digital Realty data centers in a total of 20 cities globally including Amsterdam, Ashburn, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Miami, Phoenix, Portland, New York, Santa Clara, Seattle, Singapore, Sydney and Toronto.

Sharp sees proximity becoming a greater priority for enterprises going forward.

"We see more demand on the latency requirements from their private environments to public cloud, as opposed to what is the actual workload for ultra-low latency," he comments. "A lot of times you can solve the latency piece by using the right network to serve whatever customer group you have at the edge. We are seeing a lot more people understand that the closer you can get to your public cloud infrastructure, the less you have to procure and the better overall environment you can bring to customer base."

Increasingly that includes colocating storage at the data center, he adds, which is something Digital Reality can also provide. "Being able to put that storage in an environment and have that ultra low-latency to the broader set of services is a very broad requirement that we are seeing in the market today," he says.

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

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