Equinix: The cloud needs brands

Michael Winterson outlines Equinix Services' brand plans

11 December 2014 by Bill Boyle - DatacenterDynamics

Equinix: The cloud needs brands
Michael Winterson, Equinix Services' managing director

"We see the data center tour as a key part of the buying process. At the end of the site tour we know whether or not the customer is serious. They are after all taking up the time of senior management so it’s a big commitment,” he says as we stop in the man trap. “I wonder if this will work,” he jokes as he puts his hand out towards the handprint recognition device. It works. As we enter the data center he continues: “During the course of a typical data center tour we get to know their business. As we discuss their requirements we find we can usually come up with different and more efficient solutions than the ones they had thought of. The site tour is the start of our process.”

Branded data centers
“Eventually companies will pick data centers in the same way that they choose their favorite hotel – based on the brand. We are building a brand that people can depend upon.

“We want to be the interconnection platform for the world’s leading businesses. Where Equinix is going is where I think the entire data center industry will be in the next 15 years.”

“The typical enterprise today is an office with the CIO at the top and the data center in the basement. The CIO goes in every morning, hugs his basement servers, and goes upstairs for strategy discussions with the CEO. This is how the data center world has been evolving since the early days of the desktop client server model.  The pressure was building in the eighties on CIOs to link their global businesses and they couldn’t do it with that model.

“At the same time there was an expMichael WInterson, managing director, Equinix Servcisanding de-regulated telecommunications market in the 90s which raised billions of dollars saying: ‘We know there is this pent up demand to connect all of the huge data centers of all of the enterprises to branch offices all around the world and to their regional offices, and only we have the know-how. A large number of network service providers (NSPs) wanted to build these global networks that could connect enterprises to the rest of the world. The problem was that no NSP had a ubiquitious network. So they came to places like MAE-East, MAE-West, Telehouse, Interaction, Telecity, Equinix and they said: ‘We want to meet in your data center to connect our physical networks.’”

“So these NSPs now went back to their CIOs saying, ‘I can deliver you a global wide area network (WAN) and I’m going to sell it as an MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) service to provide point-to-point services globally.’ What the customers didn’t realize was that they were all being connected in multi-tenanted data centers - but the service providers certainly knew.

“In 2006 we signed Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and a number of other European trading organisations. Then we had a lightbulb moment – offer proximity trading and high frequency trading!”  Trading between market makers and banks now makes up 20 percent of Equinix’s revenue.

This is our second eco system,” he says. “Our customers were coming in not to be in the data center – they were coming to connect to each other and buy and sell services.”

Meanwhile, enterprise IT is changing. Winterson sees five-to-ten year migration from traditional services to the new age, based on large amounts of unstructured data generated and handled by what analyst Gartner calls the nexus of forces: Social Media, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC).

“Our strategy is to create ‘cloud-enabled enterprise’,” he explains. “We think you should either build your own network into our data center or beef up your MPLS network with your carrier into what we call a ‘performance hub’. We’ll go and work with content delivery networks (CDNs), hosters, managed service providers and cloud service providers, and we’ll get them to connect to you on a standardised platform which we call Cloud Exchange. “This is a peering platform but it’s based on Ethernet, not IP, and allows the enterprise to connect to any of the service providers in our building.

Going global
“We can therefore help them build their own global network. We can help them aggregate their mobile workforce, and optimize application performance with products like Riverbed. We’ll sit with the CIOs and work with them on a multi-year strategy to migrate to the cloud.