Equinix is climbing the cloud stack. After years offering enterprises direct connections to IaaS cloud providers, Equinix has signed up with its first SaaS platform. The company announced today that it's offering enterprises direct connections to Microsoft Office 365, and plans other SaaS provider connections in the future.
Through its Cloud Exchange service, Equinix Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX) offered connectivity for compute, storage and other IaaS resources to Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and other cloud providers. (See Equinix Brings Exchange Model to Cloud.)
"This is our first foray going up the stack and pulling in an application like Office 365. We're excited about that because the addressable market for that is huge," says Christ Sharp, VP of cloud innovation for Equinix.
Microsoft connectivity will be available in the third quarter in 15 markets in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia: Amsterdam; Atlanta; Chicago; Dallas; Hong Kong; London; Los Angeles; New York; Osaka; Seattle; Silicon Valley, Calif.; Singapore; Sydney; Tokyo; and Washington, D.C.
Enterprises are relying on cloud applications like Office 365 more and more, but don't want to have to cross the public Internet to get them, Sharp says.
"CIOs want to remove as much of the public Internet as they can from their connectivity to cloud solutions," Sharp says. The private connection allows CIOs to control the end-user experience.
"The average CIO has upward of 100 SaaS apps they rely on to run their business. We're getting a long laundry list of SaaS apps they'd like to work with," Sharp says.
Equinix offers international connectivity, which gives it a competitive edge. Its competitors are linked to local markets, Sharp says.
The company relies on technology it developed itself, rather than buying off-the-shelf solutions from vendors. "You really want to own the IP. There are companies trying to white-label and cobble together different solutions," Sharp says. "We're the first ones that saw the fact that you have to make an intellectual investment up front to build the infrastructure."
Equinix invested in developing technology to allow enterprise customers to set up VLANs on the fly, to create secure workgroups that share compute, storage, Office apps and other resources on the fly. Using APIs, Equinix will be able to offer the capability to connect to other cloud applications in the future.
To run the Equinix Cloud Exchange, Equinix built its own SDN engine, the Equinix Programmable Network, based on Netconf and Yang. (See Equinix Unveils SDN Engine for Cloud.)
In January, Equinix acquired Nimbo, a professional services company focused on helping enterprises implement hybrid cloud IT architectures, part of a strategic effort by Equnix to "build its professional service capabilities to support data center migration, WAN optimization, and creating scalable, high-performing hybrid clouds solutions," Equinix said in a statement at the time. (See Equinix Buys Nimbo for Professional Services.)