Equinix Adds SDN to Cloud Networking Service


By: Michael Vizard

As part of an effort to make cloud services more accessible, Equinix (EQIX) today announced it will programmatically expose its own software-defined network (SDN) developed for its exchanges to enable customers to connect to multiple cloud services in under five minutes.

James Staten, head of global market development for Equinix, says the Equinix Cloud Exchange (EXC) Fabric has been updated to provide IT organizations with access either via a portal or via application programming interfaces (APIs). Previously, that network was known as the Equinix Cloud Exchange.

SDN Fabric connects to cloud

Staten says exposing networking services as a fabric will make it possible for an IT organization to establish networking connections on demand to more than 1,000 cloud services, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud, Salesforce, SAP, and ServiceNow.

Equinix, says Staten, expects most customers to employ the portal to connect to those services. But the APIs also make it possible for developers to invoke those connections without having to access a user interface, says Staten.

The ECX Fabric capabilities are immediately available in all ECX locations in North America and the EMEA regions. Equinix in this quarter and early 2018 will be adding eight new metros in North America and Europe (Denver, Dusseldorf, Geneva, Helsinki, Miami, Milan, Munich, and Warsaw). Equinix will also extend connectivity between metros to APAC ECX Fabric locations (Hong Kong, Melbourne, Osaka, Singapore, Sydney, and Tokyo) in 2018.

EXC is based on an implementation of the IETF Network Configuration Protocol (Netconf) and YANG, a data modeling language running on top of an instance of Cisco Network Service Orchestrator (formerly Tail-f) to provide device abstraction and control. On top of that network control layer Equinix has built its own application orchestration layer based on REST application programming interfaces (APIs).

Reselling cloud connections

Each of those metros is then connected to multiple telecommunications carriers that Equinix leverages to establish private connections to various cloud services.

"We essentially resell those services," says Staten.

Staten says Equinix already has 9,500 customers. The goal now is to use SDN to make it simplify connecting network services around the globe based on the physical location of the end users and the cloud services being accessed. That approach provides the added benefit of not being locked into one cloud service provider or carrier because organizations can dynamically switch between service providers connected to the Equinix network, says Staten.

In general, Staten notes more organizations are preferring to employ network and hosting services that are provided close to an Internet Exchange. Being only a single network hop away from those Exchanges significantly improves the performance of cloud applications compared to when those applications are typically deployed in a local datacenter operated by an internal IT organization.

It's unclear over time how many applications will migrate to hosting facilities running next to an Internet Exchange. But at a time when cloud and mobile computing applications are more latency sensitive than ever, it's increasingly apparent that every millisecond now counts when it comes to optimizing a digital experience.

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