Equinix, the co-location provider and the largest peering operator in the world, doesn’t just rent real estate along with power and cooling. It also does software-defined networking (SDN) to connect its customers to each other.
The company got its start about 19 years ago when the five largest Internet service providers at the time asked it to build a common site where they all could meet. Equinix built that first site in Ashburn, Virgnia.
Today at the Ashburn site there are 220 networks inside the same campus along with gateways for every major hyperscaler, said Jim Poole, vice president of ecosystem business development at Equinix. “We do this same thing in 40-plus metros around the globe,” he said. “We’ve got about 2,000 networks as customers. They’re with us because at some point they have to physically interconnect.”
Equinix is in the process of acquiring Verizon’s data centers. “At the end of the Verizon acquisition, we’ll have 175 data centers in 43 markets in 23 countries,” said Poole.
Although the company operates about 17 million square feet of data center space, its business model is not primarily based on renting real estate. Its business model is based on curating digital ecosystems, according to Poole.
Equinix and SDN
Equinix’s Cloud Exchange Platform, based on SDN, connects customers to most of the leading cloud service providers in the world. In addition, both AT&T and Verizon use Equinix to connect their MPLS to public clouds. The network-to-network interfaces (NNIs) for NetBond by AT&T and Verizon’s Secure Cloud sit in Equinix data centers.
At an investor conference in September 2016, AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson said of NetBond, “Basically, this is virtual private networking into and out of the cloud, and every major cloud provider is NetBonded to AT&T’s network, whether it’s Microsoft or Amazon.”
In addition, Equinix created a software-based active switching platform that allows its customers to connect to each other and offer services out of its buildings, quickly spinning them up and tearing them down on demand. Equinix created its active switching platform, internally, about three years ago, using application programming interfaces (APIs) from Apigee. Google has since acquired Apigee.
About 250-300 of Equinix’s network and cloud customers are using the active switching platform. “Of all of our network products, it’s probably our fastest growing,” said Poole.