Interconnect and colocation provider Equinix is gearing up for a big 2018. The company capped 2017 with the announcement of a major initiative, the Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric, which will extend their Equinix Cloud Exchange platform to facilitate direct physical and virtual connection of their data centres, and enable connections on demand from any location. Andrew Eppich, Managing Director at Equinix Canada, is confident that Equinix and its partner ecosystem in Canada are primed for significant growth in the year ahead.
Eppich, who is well known in the Canadian channel from his former channel roles at HP Canada, joined Equinix in December 2014.
“I am responsible for Canadian sales and marketing development, but I also have a dual role that takes me down to New England,” Eppich told ChannelBuzz. “My job covers both sides of the sovereign borders, which really emphasizes maintaining data sovereignty. But in digital transformation, we really have a global strategy, around the 190 data centres we have globally.”
Eppich said that while Equinix has been around for two decades, and invested about $18 billion in their data centres, today’s opportunities are ideally suited to their capabilities and infrastructure.
“We are really at the intersection points of a lot of things,” he said. “The cloud is driving architectures further to the edge. Organizations understand that being able to long-haul data and bring it back to a central location and process it isn’t the way to succeed in digital transformation. We co-authored a white paper last summer on our new Global Interconnection Index. It found that by 2020, the private Internet, measured by Interconnection Bandwidth, will outweigh the public Internet.”
That study projected Interconnection Bandwidth to grow at a 45 per cent CAGR clip, to reach 5,000 Tbps by 2020, well above Global IP traffic in both growth (24 per cent) and volume (855 Tbps). It is also growing more than tenfold faster than legacy MPLS, which is growing at 4 per cent.
“This growth comes from a significant trend of enterprises realizing that they can’t continue to take that risk with the public Internet,” Eppich said. “They want more of a private connection.”
Equinix has built up their capacity in Canada in stages.
“We started in the Canadian market through an acquisition with our TR1 location at 151 Front Street,” Eppich said. “That is the most densely networked building in Canada, and we are the largest tenant in that network hotel. In 2015, we launched TR2, in a $100 million investment, our own bricks and mortar data centre in the distillery district, and last fall we expanded it. TR 2, where we aren’t a tenant, is the second most densely networked building in Canada. Those two entities combined created our data centre footprint.” Between the two data centres, Equinix has 188 customers in Canada.
Partners are a critical part of the Candian go-to-market strategy. Equinix’s historical legacy was direct, but the beginning of Eppich’s tenure at Equinix Canada coincided with Equinix restructuring their go-to-market model to make partners much more significant to this enterprise strategy.
“The Canadian channel is robust,” Eppich said. “They selected a leader in Canada who had a background of vast channel experience. They made that bet early on.”
The channel in Canada falls into two buckets.
“One is conventional VARs and SIs,” Eppich stated. “We have about 40 partners who are legally bound, but a half-dozen to a dozen are really worth their chops and developing solutions on top of us. The second bucket are our strategic vendor partners, which include our platform partners, Microsoft, Google and AWS, and our infrastructure partners, NetApp, Oracle and IBM.”
Eppich said that Equinix’s partner program for solution providers is quite lucrative.
“Strong partners like Long View Systems gravitate to us as an easy aggregation point,” he indicated. “Pivot Technology Solutions collaborated with us to win an Ontario government bid on managed cloud services.”
Eppich said that the preference is for solution partners to able to white label Equinix and build their own solution on top, but practical realities mean that they often have to cast a broader net than that.
“We only have a finite amount of our own resources, and believe that they are best served in a collaboration,” he noted. “We are just as keen to sell the value to partners as an enabler. We will definitely engage to solve a customer’s business problem. If they are white labelling us, fantastic. But if it’s early days, and partners aren’t willing to invest do that yet, we can complement them. We are very flexible.”
Eppich said that the nature of Equinix’s business model makes them and their channel well suited to respond to the pent up-demand in the Canadian market for cloud, while addressing data sovereignty issues.
“We have the ability to be a facilitator to those cloud workload companies, rather than compete against them,” he indicated. “That contrasts with the large telcos, who move outside their swimlane to compete with them. We are comfortable being an infrastructure and connectivity provider to facilitate the infrastructure play.”
The Equinix Cloud Exchange platform is also opening up new opportunities.
“Cloud Exchange Fabric enables enterprises to do more with cloud providers in a secure, flexible way, where they can physically or virtually connect with cloud and network providers,” Eppich said. “We have some very slick software and robust infrastructure that allows easy onramps to the cloud, so you can quickly spin up or down. Cloud Exchange Fabric layers on a software-defined network so that you can connect in a virtual way between those 190 data centres. That’s the bold step we have taken. You have the ability to start in Toronto as local onramp, and go to 25 locations globally today. It’s a massive extension of how we can bring Canadian enterprises to digital transformation globally. Cloud Exchange lets you connect with cloud providers locally in Canada, and Cloud Exchange Fabric extends it to 25 locations around the world.”
Eppich said that’s significant for their partners, who can offer customers a global strategy that is managed it in a very data sovereign way.
“It’s an opportunity to serve enterprise customers in the cloud, where they can be a cloud aggregator globally, and not be limited by postal code,” he said. “They can service the same enterprise companies in Canada globally, and we can work with Canadian resellers to take them globally. Equinix knits it all together to help them do that.”
All this adds to what Eppich sees as a great year of growth ahead.
“Onward and upward,” he said. “We started in 2014 in Canada with the network providers and the cloud providers, and TR 2 added the financial services vertical. We now have about a third of the equity in Canada intersected in our business. Now we are driving toward the enterprise, both in Canada and globally, because enterprises have bought into the cloud. It makes us ideal to work with around a digital strategy. As a result, I think we are looking at hockey stick growth as we move towards the third phase of TR 2, and maybe TR 3. In Canada, we will do it in our own way, with our partner community, and with a clear eye on data sovereignty.”