Equinix has already diversified its data centers, adding Cloud Exchange to its well established Internet Business Exchange services to provide easy direct connections to multiple public clouds as well as private cloud options. Today the company connects 1,400 networks and 2,600 clouds, according to its CTO, Ihab Tarazi.
As Tarazi tells Light Reading Editor-at-Large Carol Wilson, however, there is much more to come as cloud architectures are broadly adopted, hardware and software are disaggregated, and open source becomes the standard approach to technology evolution.
Equinix Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX) is preparing for this future by looking to massively scale its interconnection capabilities, and it is participating in open source processes and testing solutions such as the Voyager optical switch, developed by Facebook and contributed to the Telecom Infra Project (TIP). (See also Equinix CTO: Open Source Critical for Interconnection.)
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Telco Transformation: How is Cloud Exchange growing?
Ihab Tarazi: We continue to add more cloud providers and network providers to Cloud Exchange and we integrate their APIs, especially the big cloud providers like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle IBM -- all of them have created API interfaces for direct access to the cloud. The unique value we have is that when you come to one of these markets, you can connect to the vast majority of clouds in the same location. And that is an automated process. Why that is important? Most of the new services people are doing today require multi-cloud and hybrid cloud, but you also want very good performance so you also need automated and direct connections to these multi clouds and to be able to move data between them and your private deployment.
As [cloud providers] build out their edges, we add them to our data centers. What is meaningful at this time is that the biggest cloud providers are in these 21 markets globally that we serve.
TT: What do you see coming?
IT: That journey has taken us to a couple of new things. First, some of the SD-WAN providers that you hear about and the next-gen architectures from people like AT&T are all now new capabilities we want to integrate with Cloud Exchange. The best way to describe it is that the networks are now ready for the same journey we did with the clouds. And that is a significant, from last Open Networking Summit [a year ago], people were talking about it -- now people have an architecture, and they are starting to have an SDN and API set of instructions. They want to offer virtual routers, virtual firewalls, they want to offer all the network services.
One of the phenomenon that goes with it is they seem to have created consortiums. AT&T teamed up with China Mobile, for example [in the Open Network Automation Platform] -- because you need gravity for that API set. You need the same gravity that AWS has or Microsoft Azure has.
TT: How does ONAP (AT&T and China Mobile) impact you?
IT: Because they would want to integrate that to Cloud Exchange. If you are going to consume a cloud on the other end, you are going to want to use ONAP for the network and then connect all the clouds we have through Cloud Exchange. For ONAP specifically, we have not decided to join yet, but we are in the process of evaluating. That is one example of multiple things that we are discussing -- we are talking to people.
I see two general trends: They are going for an automated activation and an API set but number two, they are building corsortia of multiple networks because no single network may have the push and the gravity for that.
TT: Are you also looking at Open Source MANO (OSM)?
IT: We haven't looked at OSM yet. But there is one called NGENA (Next Generation Enterprise Network Alliance) based on Deutsche Telekom, CenturyLink and many others. There are multiple of those out there. This is what is happening, these things are starting to show up. This is a big change for the industry. Everyone was talking about it hypothetically. A year ago AT&T was talking about virtualizing their network, now they have an open source framework that is usable, available through the Linux Foundation, that's a change. These other consortiums have an architecture; an API stack we can look at.
TT: So you take these APIs and…
IT: We integrate them into Cloud Exchange. The end effect is that people will be able to go from the network to the cloud or networks to each other. We want to integrate those to Cloud Exchange, [so customers] would be able to go from network to cloud or network to each other. Now you will have peering between clouds and networks, all based on an SDN programmable interface.
TT: If you are doing an end-to-end service, if you can do that peering at an Equinix exchange, do you get end-to-end visibility?
IT: End-to-end visibility, also end-to-end control, security. The network is elastic, you can schedule workloads, this is a whole new world. But it is inevitable -- all the carriers are going for next-generation architectures, just like the clouds -- everybody is going toward a cloud-based architecture that is elastic, programmable and we will continue to serve our function as the place where they all meet.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading