When the Canadian market beckoned, Equinix responded with the opening of a new US$100 million International Business Exchange (IBX) data centre in the heart of downtown Toronto – a.k.a. TR2. The new site located at Front and Parliament Streets is touted as one of the most powerful facilities in the province, boasting 25 megawatts of power, said Alano Medonte, Equinix director of channel sales for North East US and Canada.
It is already hosting a broad base of global enterprise customers, including NASDAQ, he said. “What we’ve built in Toronto is going to change the financial services and trading market. That’s a vertical we’re very focused on because it’s an industry where milliseconds can mean billions of dollars.”
An IBX data centre is not your garden variety colocation or cloud platform. Rather its Interconnection Oriented Architecture (IOA) connects customers to countless vendor platforms and global cloud services, while enabling organizations that wish to do so, to retain their data locally. Through TR2, a company can set up to reach any market on a number of the leading cloud platforms within a matter of three weeks; and cross connect an existing location to any cloud provider, telco or other customer within 24 hours, Medonte said. Overall, Equinix has 145 global data centres with interconnections to 1,150+ networks, and approximately 170,000 cross connects to IaaS, SaaS, private cloud and network service providers.
According to Medonte, direct interconnection that allows customers to simultaneously maintain the security and control of their on-premise infrastructure is an increasingly popular model for companies looking to deploy hybrid clouds. A recent Equinix study, Enterprise of the Future, found that by 2017, 84 percent of IT leaders will deploy IT infrastructure where interconnection – defined as direct, secure physical or virtual connections – is at the core, compared to the 38 percent that do so today.
This model means that CIOs can seamlessly incorporate services such as Azure, Office 365, Google, VMware and Amazon Web Services (AWS) into their existing architectures. “They’re all connected and plugged into Equinix data centres,” Medonte said. “What can be better for hosting data than to have local and global connectivity to multiple locations with no latency issues?”
Equinix is a global force to be reckoned with in this regard, operating 145 locations around the world and playing host to many of the world’s financial exchanges. According to Medonte, the company continues to buy and build new facilities on a quarterly basis.
For its part, TR2 provides interconnection to many enterprise companies and financial services firms, as well as to cloud and network providers, including those that are colocated in Equinix’s original Toronto data centre, TR1 located on Front Street.
So what has driven the current facilities upgrade? Medonte said that Toronto boasts a trading engine that is significant enough to justify the $100 million leap, and offers the company the potential to double or triple down in the area in the near future. “Equinix saw a way to enter the market 15 years ago by establishing a place where telcos can reside. While people might think there are many buildings with multiple providers, that’s simply not true.”
This is an important distinction given that the first thing many cloud providers consider in their choice of facilities provider is the telecom link. “We give them that choice, which means that Canadian customers with global aspirations can expand and immediately penetrate larger markets and have the benefit of consistent SLAs around the world. A company could conceivably keep their innovation arm in Canada while operating in other countries to maximize their tax benefits.”
Another differentiator for Equinix is its focus on space. The company is not interested in managed services, Medonte added: “We leave that up to the multi-million dollar companies like NTT. What we do is manage and operate data centres so others can get out of that game. In other words, we provide space, power and connectivity to a partner ecosystem in order to deliver that next layer of value.”
One of the latest partners to sign on with Equinix is Solgeniakhela, which is bringing its Genialcloud public cloud SaaS for small to medium enterprise and Privatocloud private cloud IaaS private for enterprises to North American markets. “For us to do something in North America, we had to evaluate current market needs and how we could service it better; so we ended up partnering with Equinix,” said Ian Khan, Solgeniakhela director of innovation and marketing.
A key factor in the decision was Equinix’s presence within the financial, healthcare and manufacturing sectors, Khan said. “Many enterprises are facing the challenge of how to transition to cloud with the maximum amount of ease and minimum amount of pain and be guaranteed data is locked within Canadian borders. With this model, companies can transition to the cloud while enjoying the benefits of a fast, powered up and responsive back end.”
This partnership could play a role in tackling one of the most significant Canadian handicaps, Medonte said. “There is a decided lack of willingness on the part of Canadian companies to focus on global scale. They either expand in Canada or open multiple locations. But if you can do all of that simultaneously that’s a significant advantage in terms of managing contracts, margins and how you service customers. The newer breed [of business] is multi-cloud, with multi-national operations that can go any place and be nimble.”
That agility is rooted in Exquinix’s ability to reduce or eliminate latency by bringing data centre capacity closer to sources of consumption around the globe. “The more we can lower the distance between two customers, the more we can enable them to do the unthinkable: light speed access to any application, workload or platform,” Medonte said. “That’s how the business game is changing. An interconnection-oriented architecture allows folks to make business decisions without IT saying it isn’t possible or having to re-architect things. All they need is the space, power and connectivity to get up and running where they didn’t have markets before.”