It’s a sign of our industry’s maturation that we no longer talk about cloud and on-prem as mutually exclusive choices or dramatically point out the pitfalls of lock-in. The trend has been toward maximum freedom to use the right infrastructure for the application, to mix and match cloud providers while also leveraging the control and privacy of private infrastructure with cloud connectivity. Software has eaten the world, and the cloud is just someone else’s computer!
However, delivering the ideal level of agility seamlessly and securely is tricky. Each additional platform in the mix brings a set of bugs, vulnerabilities, deficiencies, or complexities. Companies are learning to understand and adapt to these tradeoffs (within reason), separating the things they can control from the things they cannot and focusing on the former.
One important—and often untapped—lever that an organization can use when executing on a hybrid multicloud architecture is the connectivity between its applications and, ultimately, with end users.
The Internet's Fast Lane
While the public internet may be the easiest way to connect to them all, it’s not the most secure or efficient option. Yes, the public internet provides instant cloud connectivity and global reach, but it also gives the world and everybody in it many potential ways inside your infrastructure. Its performance can be great, but it’s not reliably great. Long story short, the public internet is amazing, but it’s not the best network for high-performance, privacy-sensitive, critical workloads.
That isn’t news to folks who build the internet. Total bandwidth used for private interconnection around the world has and is projected to continue growing 44% a year on average from 2020 through 2024, according to the latest Equinix Global Interconnection Index. GXI is our annual research report that tracks and quantifies the trends in “direct and private traffic exchange” between parties in carrier-neutral colocation data centers. It estimates that total private interconnection bandwidth last year was 7,514 Terabytes per second and projects that the total will reach about 10,900 Tbps in 2022. Total bandwidth used by the public internet is a progressively shrinking fraction of that, projected to be one fifteenth of the total bandwidth used for private interconnection in 2024.
Cloud providers (such as AWS, Azure, and GCP) use 32% of the total private interconnection bandwidth, according to GXI. Network service providers (such as AT&T, Orange, and Verizon) use about the same. The remaining 36% is used by enterprises.
Equinix owes a chunk of its success to an early recognition of the value of interconnection, both public and private. Starting in the late 1990s, Equinix prioritized the cultivation of interconnection ecosystems and built a focused business around providing low-latency access. Today, much of the world’s private interconnection bandwidth is consumed inside Equinix data centers, where all the clouds, network carriers, content companies, and enterprises link up their networks.
Private interconnection has played a crucial role in opening up access to powerful cloud platforms for enterprises with highly sensitive, critical workloads, giving them cloud connectivity that bypasses the public internet. Take Nasdaq, for example, which has been busy moving its markets to the cloud as part of a companywide shift to a hybrid infrastructure strategy, using Equinix to connect to carriers, cloud platforms, and other service providers.
Private interconnection also helps companies use SaaS products, such as those by Twilio or Wasabi, via APIs more seamlessly and reliably than over the public internet. Physical proximity between all these diverse networks, which are often located at the same campuses, plays a crucial role by ensuring low-latency links.
Cloudifying Cloud Connectivity
We think too few developers build their applications to leverage the internet superhighway that is private interconnection for cloud connectivity and to reach end users. For that reason, we just launched a new way to set up private network links between Equinix Metal customers and their service providers, partners, or clients. We brought the experience of using private interconnection in line with the cloudy experience we all love, making interconnection self-service, ondemand, and programmable.
The new feature, called Fabric VC—Metal Billed, opens up access to the interconnection ecosystem Equinix has nurtured inside its data centers to a much wider swath of users than before. It leverages Equinix Fabric, the software-defined interconnection platform for provisioning virtual links to thousands of ecosystem participants all around the world. Fabric VC—Metal Billed replaces a process for connecting to Fabric that required several manual steps by customers and Equinix staff with a fully automated experience. It also makes interconnection charges part of your Metal bill, instead of generating a separate bill for Fabric.
This is a whole new way to experience Fabric—without long-term contracts (the minimum time commitment is one hour) and with a quick setup through a web console. The service is billed for in US dollars on a global basis.
We don’t know which use cases will be the most popular at this point, which is one of the exciting parts of adding a powerful new platform feature. We believe it can be a great option if you need to provide cloud connectivity for your Metal environment, quickly activate infrastructure in new regions, build off-cloud DR solutions, test different architecture ideas, try out new products or features rolled out by the public clouds, or build SaaS products that leverage interconnection. Those are just a few ideas. We’re certain that many more use cases will emerge—including ones we haven’t thought of!—as more of our customers experience the power of private interconnection.
Find Fabric VC—Metal Billed on the Interconnections page of the newly remodeled Metal user console and let us know what you think. We cannot wait to discover all the things our customers will do when their apps fly private!
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