The world of infrastructure is faster and more distributed than ever before. Colocation market leader Equinix wants to make it easier for its customers to enter a new market within minutes and is integrating software in new ways to make it happen.
The new Equinix Metal service aims to bring cloud-style automation to physical infrastructure, enabling dedicated servers to be provisioned “as a service.” It builds upon the bare metal server offering from Packet, which Equinix acquired earlier this year, and comes integrated with virtual networking technology to quickly connect users with essential clouds and services.
“Equinix Metal is another important step forward in our product portfolio,” said Sara Baack, Chief Product Officer at Equinix. “With Equinix Metal integrated with Equinix Fabric, infrastructure customers can move at software speed, and tap into the global reach, interconnection value, and unparalleled community of ecosystem partners that digital leaders have come to expect from Equinix.”
Equinix believes bare metal cloud will accelerate the growth of hybrid IT, enabling customers to rapidly deploy physical servers in an Equinix data centers and virtual servers in their favorite cloud platform. The Metal service is available immediately in four leading interconnection markets – Amsterdam, New York, Silicon Valley and Northern Virginia – and is expected to be available in 14 global metros by early 2021.
Beyond Power, Pipes and Ping
There are lots of data center trends embedded in the Metal announcement. As Equinix embraces its new positioning as a “digital infrastructure” company, historic product boundaries are blurring. As a colocation specialist, the company historically offered space in cages and cabinets where customers could deploy their own IT equipment. The Packet deal and Metal rollout reflects the evolution of Equinix into a vendor of hardware and services.
Equinix is the world’s leading provider of colocation, with a focus on interconnections that move data traffic across network boundaries. This formula has allowed the company to create a digital infrastructure empire, with 200 data centers and 21 million square feet of space deployed across 52 markets. Equinix has historically focused on the core of the Internet, building clusters of data centers around major network intersections like Northern Virginia, Silicon Valley, Chicago and Dallas.
The Metal product line offers a range of server configurations for common use cases, with hourly pricing ranging from 50 cents to $2.25 per hour, plus network egress pricing based on usage. Discounts are available for reserved capacity and spot usage, which allows providers to monetize idle server capacity.
As Equinix moves beyond “power, pipes and ping,” it also hopes to tap Packet’s base of cloud-first developers, touting Metal as “a fully programmable solution … Click-and-configure, provision via API and common libraries, or leverage popular tools to quickly and reliably deploy and manage hybrid multicloud architectures.”
Equinix Metal has the potential to simplify the process of rapidly deploying infrastructure across multiple markets. It includes native integration to Equinix Fabric, a software-defined interconnection service available in 46 markets. Equinix says users can deploy dedicated bare metal infrastructure in a matter of minutes and tap the Equinix Fabric for low-latency access to thousands of networks, enterprises and clouds.
Pandemic Highlights Speed of Deployment
This could be particularly useful in deploying edge computing services or accelerating infrastructure expansion to add capacity during events like the pandemic.
“With COVID-19 we’ve seen enterprises accelerate their digital transformation plans from years to months,” said Mark Bowker, Senior Analyst at research firm ESG. “Today’s digital leaders are increasingly gaining a competitive advantage by leveraging infrastructure choices that meet their exact needs and can be deployed globally and interconnected. The addition of Equinix Metal can help digital businesses extract greater value from Platform Equinix’s rich ecosystems and global interconnection fabric and rapidly deploy the physical infrastructure of their choice.”
As corporate IT users grapple with a more complex set of options, data center providers are seeking to build platforms offering a wide range of assets and services. This is best seen in the evolution of “Platform Equinix” and Digital Realty’s “PlatformDIGITAL” strategies.