The service, called Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric, uses the software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities built into Equinix Cloud Exchange (ECX) to enable any customer — the company claims it has 9,500 of them — to connect its own infrastructure across Equinix locations, or connect to any other customer on Equinix’s global platform.
Currently, U.S. customers can interconnect to any other U.S. customer across ECX, and Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) customers can interconnect to any other EMEA customers. Equinix plans to offer these connections across regions by the end of 2018.
ECX Fabric combines three earlier connectivity services. The company already offered virtual local area network (LAN) connections between companies within the same Equinix data center. Additionally, secure wide area network (WAN) connections provided links between two different Equinix facilities. And third, Equinix Cloud Exchange gave enterprises direct connections to all of the major cloud providers including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, as well as other service providers.
“Customers said, ‘Why do I have to go through three different connections? Why can’t I just have one?’ And that is exactly what ECX Fabric does,” said James Staten, global head of market development for Equinix.
It’s also really fast, Staten said. “Not only can you connect to anyone, anywhere, but you can do it instantly through our portal or programmatically using our APIs. You can set up one of the sessions in less than five minutes and do it on a pay-per-use basis.”
Equinix claims it is the only technology provider to offer this kind of connectivity as a service. Other companies claiming to offer software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) as a service are limited to WAN or LAN, Staten said. “They don’t have the unification we are providing right now. Megaport is the most common, and they are WAN only.”
The new capabilities also appear to compete with service providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon that use their presence in Equinix facilities to offer greater value and services to their own customers. With ECX Fabric, enterprises can connect directly and privately to their customers, suppliers, and cloud providers directly through Equinix — they don’t need to have a separate connection with a service provider.
Equinix is working with telecom and service provider customers that will resell some of these connectivity services as an extension of their network, Staten said. “The reality is, no matter what provider you are, you can’t cover the entire globe. You have pretty high expenses to add another country or add another region. Since we’re already doing all of this, it’s so much easier for them to resell us.”
Equinix has more than 240,000 interconnection points, which link network, cloud and IT service providers, and enterprise customers. It owns and operates 190 data centers in 48 markets around the globe. This includes its new $122 million facility in Silicon Valley, which opened in September.
The new ECX Fabric capabilities are immediately available in all ECX locations in North America and EMEA regions, including Amsterdam, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Dublin, Frankfurt, London, Los Angeles, Manchester, New York, Paris, Seattle, Silicon Valley, Stockholm, Toronto, Washington, D.C. and Zurich.
Later this year and in early 2018, Equinix will roll out the new capabilities in seven additional metros in the Americas and EMEA regions (Denver, Düsseldorf, Geneva, Helsinki, Miami, Milan and Munich). It will also extend connectivity to São Paulo, Brazil, within the Americas region, and between (Asia Pacific) region locations (Hong Kong, Melbourne, Osaka, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo), in 2018.