Equinix in Aggressive Pursuit of SaaS Provider Partnerships
Network cabling at an Equinix data center (Photo: Equinix)

Equinix in Aggressive Pursuit of SaaS Provider Partnerships

Colo provider in talks with major cloud CRM, productivity-software companies

Now that private network links to nearly all major Infrastructure-as-a-Service providers are available at its data centers around the world, Equinix is aggressively pursuing similar partnerships with big Software-as-a-Service players.

Expect to see a lot more private-connectivity services to SaaS companies through Equinix in the coming months, Chris Sharp, the data center service giant’s VP of cloud innovation, said. The company is in talks with every major provider of cloud-based customer relationship management services and productivity suites, for example.

“Pretty much everything is on the table,” Sharp said.

Enabling customers to connect to public cloud services without going through the public internet has been one of the biggest growth drivers for Equinix, the world’s largest data center provider. For many security- and performance-conscious enterprise customers, this is the only way to use public cloud.

Customers can already access IaaS offerings by the likes of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM SoftLayer directly from a number of Equinix colocation facilities. SaaS partnerships are the next step, driven by demand from enterprise CIOs and CTOs, who want the benefits of SaaS but don’t want to rely on the internet to use those services, Sharp said.

Equinix is preparing to launch direct links to Office 365. Announced in May, it became the colo company’s first direct-connectivity service for SaaS. It is now eyeing a similar deal with Google for its Google for Work suite, Sharp said.

He did not name any CRM providers Equinix is talking to, saying only that they would be “some of the larger CRMs.” The largest CRM providers by market share are Salesforce (18 percent), SAP (12 percent), Oracle (9 percent), Microsoft (6 percent), and IBM (4 percent), according to Gartner.

The amount of Equinix customers using private connectivity to IaaS providers has been growing rapidly and driving a lot of new business for the company, Sharp said. It rolled out the service for Azure a little more than one year ago and about 100 customers are using it today, he said.

The service has gone from being available in 10 markets initially to 16 markets today.

Some of the newest customers include GE, HarperCollins, Hitachi Data Systems, and Red Lobster, among others.

Equinix has seen the most rapid growth in direct connectivity to Azure and AWS, but Google’s IaaS has been picking up steam. “Amazon and Microsoft are definitely on a very solid growth trajectory,” Sharp said about the public cloud services consumed through Eqiuinix data centers.

Access to cloud service providers has been “changing the dialogue” with customers about colocation services, according to Sharp. It has become an essential attribute of a multitenant data center, on par with the fundamentals of space, power, and cost, he said.

“Future-proofing” a data center deployment has traditionally meant having enough space and power capacity to expand infrastructure as demand grows. Today, it often means being able to pull as many applications “out of the basement” as possible, Sharp said, meaning pulling applications out of corporate on-premise data centers and consuming them as services.

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