By offering direct, private network connections from colocation data centers or corporate IT facilities to their cloud servers, public cloud providers like Amazon and Microsoft addressed two big hurdles to public cloud adoption by enterprises – concerns with security and performance – but setting up interconnects for cloud connectivity is a complex network engineering task, and many customers simply don’t have the necessary skills.
Those who can afford it hire third-party professional services, and those who cannot try and do it themselves. Many in the latter category fail, Greg Adgate, VP of global partnerships and alliances at Equinix, said. Equinix, for whom private interconnects between customer servers and cloud-provider servers inside its data centers is a rapidly growing business, hasn’t had the engineering resources allocated specifically for this but has used its solution architects and sales engineers to provide customers with guidance. But solution architects “are not supposed to be out configuring routers,” he said. “They’re supposed to be designing solutions.”
To close the gap, Equinix today announced new professional services to help customers configure their networks to work with Amazon Web Services Direct Connect through the Equinix Cloud Exchange platform and a blueprint for a Cisco-NetApp converged infrastructure solution for Direct Connect customers who don’t already have infrastructure inside Equinix data centers that can be connected to the Amazon cloud.
Service Providers Race to Offer Direct Cloud Links
Public cloud connectivity through private network links is promising to become a big business for data center colocation providers and network carriers. Microsoft has an equivalent offering for its Azure cloud called ExpressRoute, and Google Cloud Platform has something similar called Carrier Interconnect. The private connectivity service for IBM’s SoftLayer cloud is called Direct Link.
While Equinix is one of the largest, AWS has numerous other major data center service providers as Direct Connect partners, including Colt, CoreSite, Datapipe, Interxion, NTT, and Telx. Major network carriers, such as Level 3, AT&T, Verizon, and Zayo, also have the potential to be strong competitors in this space, since they can provide direct connectivity from customers’ own corporate data centers to the cloud.
Converged Infrastructure for Hybrid Cloud
Equinix’s new professional services capabilities and the enabling technology, announced at this week’s AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, come primarily from Nimbo, a certified AWS and Microsoft Azure partner Equinix acquired early this year. This is the first Nimbo-based offering Equinix has rolled out publicly, Adgate said.
The converged infrastructure solution is similar to FlexPod, the pre-integrated hardware-and-software bundle that combines Cisco UCS servers and NetApp storage, but optimized for AWS cloud connectivity
The reference architecture has been tested and validated, and Amazon engineers played a big role in its creation, according to Adgate. “They participated in testing and validation and the design,” he said about Amazon.
Amazon’s interest in making Direct Connect easier is substantial, according to him. Direct Connect enables enterprises to finally run production workloads in the cloud, and those workloads demand a lot of compute capacity.
The bundle, sold through partners, is a quick way to create a hybrid infrastructure that combines on-prem servers and storage in an Equinix data center with public cloud connectivity services. “We have a partner community that has an opportunity to monetize this by wrapping a managed service around it,” Adgate said. “We have a number of NetApp partners and a number of Cisco partners. Some of them are delivering FlexPod today.”
Corrected: A previous version of this article said Cisco Intercloud software was part of the bundle. Intercloud was included in a draft of the announcement by mistake, according to an Equinix spokesperson, who said the software will not actually be included in the solution.