Posts Tagged ‘Equinix’

Everyone is Talking about Docker Containers

Recently at the Google Cloud Platform Live, Amazon re:Invent, VMWare VWorld and at the OpenStack conference, everyone was talking about Docker containers. Even Microsoft has recently announced that it will provide support in the Windows operating system for Docker containers.  In this blog I will briefly talk about what is Docker, why is there so much excitement about it, and my take on how this development offers more choices to the end customers.

Simply put, Docker is an application level container mechanism. The main difference between a Docker container and a Virtual Machine container is that a Docker container is a lighter weight container that does not package the guest OS inside it, whereas, a Virtual Machine container is a heavier container that packages a guest OS. Thus, multiple Docker containers share the same underlying OS, whereas, each VM container has its own guest OS.  The Docker container paradigm allows one to have stateless application level compute containers, and it also allows for the storing of the persistent state of an application in a separate Docker storage container that can be shared across multiple Docker application containers.

In addition to a Docker container, one also needs a container orchestrator to move a Docker container between the nodes in a cluster, and eventually, across clouds. Google and Amazon are both supporting competing Docker container orchestrator initiatives. Google is putting its weight behind the Kubernetes open source initiative, and Amazon has recently announced the EC2 Container Service.  Cisco and VMWare are also planning to provide support for Docker containers in their multi-cloud initiatives such as InterCloud and vCloud Air.

The reason why there is so much excitement about Docker containers is because of the light-weight nature of these containers one can pack more Docker containers on to a physical server than VM containers.  Thus, this leads to higher resource utilization. Docker containers also allow for the seamless movement of applications across physical machines regardless of the hypervisors running on those physical machines. Eventually, the goal of the Docker paradigm is to allow developers to specify the infra-structure level policies with respect to performance, disaster recovery, security etc. at the Docker container level, and for the orchestrator to interpret these policies and take the necessary actions. This key development gives more control to the application developer with respect to the underlying infra-structure.

In addition to the above mentioned benefits, I am particularly excited about the following additional benefit which I think has not been talked about much in the community. Currently, it is not easy for a customer to easily move the entire state of their application across the different IaaS vendors because each of the IaaS vendors uses a different hypervisor or container mechanism. Thus, in future, if applications are architected into a combination of stateless application compute Docker containers, and stateful Docker storage containers, then this gives an application the freedom to move the stateless compute containers across the different IaaS providers, while keeping the stateful storage containers in a common location such as an Equinix datacenter that can be efficiently accessed from all of the IaaS vendors’ infra-structure.

Furthermore, this also allows various storage and database vendors (both SQL and NoSQL) to host their storage/database as a service in the Equinix datacenter. The net winner out of this entire paradigm shift will be the customers because they will be able to build their distributed multi-cloud applications by leveraging the services across multiple IaaS vendors while maintaining the stateful components of their applications in a common location like the Equinix datacenter. I am a strong believer in giving more choices to the customers, and whenever, there is a paradigm like the Docker containers, that allows customers to separately shop for compute and storage services, I am all in favor of it.

Greater Revenue Through Systems of Engagement

Geoffrey Moore coined the term “systems of engagement” to describe IT systems that support multiway communication and collaboration between businesses and customers. These are distinct from “systems of record,” or those IT systems (e.g., databases and management information systems) designed primarily for one-way, read access of structured data. In today’s highly competitive global markets, digital systems of engagement are an absolute necessity for enhanced employee productivity, partnership success, customer satisfaction and brand loyalty ̶ all of which result in revenue growth. In fact, a Deloitte Digital survey found that by the end of the year, digital interactions would influence 64 cents of every dollar spent in retail stores.

In its global survey for IBM, “Systems Of Engagement Demand New Integration Solutions — And A New IT,” Forrester Research reports how customer expectations of their business interactions are changing dramatically. What customers want most are easier interactions, the ability to deal with them via their smartphones and consistent treatment across all channels. And as any successful business knows, the customer is always right.

Companies that embrace SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) will be best positioned to deliver systems of engagement that meet these users’ expectations. For example, users want to engage with retailers, banks, and any other personal or business services via any device and any channel, from mobile apps on their smartphones, to tablets, social media and cloud-based e-commerce websites. Wearables are also increasing in popularity, with the Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc. reporting that 73% of online adults see “safety and wellness” as one potential wearable-workplace benefit.

Perhaps most important, users expect customized interactions, in which big data and analytics deliver the intelligence required to enhance user experiences and drive new revenue. For example, by targeting customers with personalized offers and suggesting relevant purchases, retailers leverage valuable customer data to encourage new sales. And the multiway interaction continues after the purchase. Customers are engaged in providing retailers with product feedback and chatter on social media about product quality, which the retailer then analyzes to gain insights for encouraging return business. Add the Internet of Things (IoT), and soon organizations will be engaging with cars, appliances and other purchased items, spurring new sources of service revenue that have the potential to last for years.

From the Center to the Edge

Moving to systems of engagement requires an Interconnection Oriented Architecture™ that can deliver a satisfying, real-time experience for any user, anywhere, on any device, via any engagement channel.

In an age of digital images, voice and video, more than fat pipes are required ̶ low latency is vital. Low latency comes from proximity, not only to the user, but also among the applications, data repositories, cloud services and other elements that drive the engagement experience.

That’s why successful enterprises are moving from a centralized interconnection architecture, with multiple long-distance MPLS, Internet virtual private networks (VPNs), and other connections emanating from one or two corporate data centers, to a more distributed interconnection architecture that harnesses existing, globally dispersed interconnection/colocation data centers (such as Equinix) that house multiple cloud services, network providers and partner ecosystems.

An interconnected enterprise leverages proximate, direct, high-speed interconnections among clouds, partners and other IT delivery systems for fast, low-latency interactions, bringing all of these services closer to dispersed global users. Rather than building multiple connections one by one, organizations can simply extend their network to the nearest interconnection access point.

With systems of engagement and data pushed to the edge, close to mobile users, the entire user experience on any device is transformed. Countless organizations have benefited from this transformative architecture, including these Equinix customers:

  • A major multinational banking and financial services firm reduced latency by 45% by strategically deploying its banking applications in multiple global interconnection centers.
  • A health care Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider achieved real-time customer service interactions by leveraging a globally dispersed interconnection architecture to securely deliver on-demand software updates.

The future is engagement, which means you need to get up close and interconnect.

The Cloud Means (Agile, Scalable, Productive) Business

It’s been 385 years to the month since Gov. John Winthrop founded and named “Boston,” a hilly peninsula that had been settled earlier in 1630 by his fellow Puritans. This week, that historic U.S. city becomes a destination for people looking for insight into the cloud, a technology that’s reshaping the history of the digital world. 

The 2015 “Cloud Means Business” conference is sponsored by Cloud Partners and is being held in Boston from Sept. 16 – 18. Equinix will be there, along with a host of our partners.

As its title suggests, the conference will focus on the cloud’s impact on business, with its opening session specifically looking at how new technologies – including software-defined networking and the Internet of Things – are redefining the cloud marketplace. As we gear up for the Boston conference, our mind is focused on how these technologies will be impacting what companies will be doing in the cloud.

The current and future impact of cloud on the enterprise is well-documented, including in the recent report by Oxford Economics, “The Cloud Grows Up.” The report indicated that nearly 70% of businesses surveyed plan to make “moderate-to-heavy” cloud investments over the next three years. Other findings with implications for the cloud marketplace:

  • 61% of survey respondents expected their companies to have developed new products or services via the cloud within three years, up from 26% that had done so.
  • 51% expected to have developed new lines of business via the cloud in three years, compared to 28% that had done so.
  • 50% expected to have entered new markets in three years, compared to 40% that had done so.

Given the pace of cloud change in the past three years, the cloud marketplace three years from now could look nothing like what we can conceive today. But the two technologies singled out by conference organizers will play a huge role in getting us from now to whatever’s next.

Software-Defined Networking (SDN): SDN’s huge advantage is that it frees the enterprise to shift network control from physical network devices it has to “touch” and maintain (i.e. switches, routers) onto software applications that allow centralized, end-to-end network provisioning and visibility. SDN is at the heart of the kind of cloud services and infrastructures that are becoming less a feature of this interconnected era and more a necessity to operate in it.

That’s because business is changing to require instant, simultaneous interconnection between cloud partners to reach increasingly mobile end users at anytime, anywhere, on any device. That kind of agility can’t happen without a dynamic, software-based architecture. Equinix already offers this capability with our Cloud Exchange, which at its core, uses SDN within the Equinix Programmable Network.

Internet of Things (IoT): A lot of the excitement about the IoT centers around the new business insights it can offer. Until now, we’ve never had sensors on deep sea ships, for instance, spilling out information about weather changes, ocean currents, cargo conditions, so we’ve never had a chance to see the innovations and efficiencies that information might lead to. IBM midmarket business general manager John Mason calls data “the new natural resource.” But this resource can’t exist without the cloud, and it can’t be mined without the cloud, so the growing significance of the IoT in the cloud marketplace is clear – for businesses of every size.

“I think eventually every business has to have somewhere in its portfolio and go-to-market approach a range of cloud services,” Mason told Forbes.

At Equinix, we agree with the folks in Boston that “cloud means business.” Click the link to learn more about how our cloud infrastructure solutions can help the enterprise do business.

Equinix Programmable Network (EPN): A Dynamic Foundation for Multi-cloud

Cloud computing is here to stay. Most enterprise CIOs I speak with are turning to the cloud to increase business agility and enable elasticity for both their application portfolios and business processes. And, in almost all cases, they are adopting more than one cloud platform to support their business applications – applications that require multiple services that run on multiple clouds. This practice of multi-cloud, multi-platform deployments addresses the unique requirements of these business applications, while also providing better value via higher availability and scale than single cloud deployments.

Yet, the move to this multi-cloud architecture can be hindered by the time and effort it takes to provision individual ports and connections to each cloud platform – often measured in weeks, not the seconds that are required to be truly agile. We designed the Equinix Cloud Exchange specifically to meet these provisioning needs and enable customers to connect to multiple cloud service providers (CSPs) either via colocating in an Equinix data center, or through their choice of network services providers (NSPs) through a single port connection.

At the heart of Equinix Cloud Exchange is the Equinix Programmable Network (EPN), the foundational layer that enables this.  EPN takes a software-defined networking (SDN) approach and allows customers to self-provision these connections instantaneously. It’s highly scalable, provides ease of management via automation and ensures customers can maintain a vendor-neutral strategy.

As we continue to develop the EPN platform, we are ensuring that the core of the EPN software adheres to the following principles:

  • Agility and Management at Scale: Manually provisioning, monitoring and trouble-shooting network connections isn’t practical in an agile, multi-cloud era, in which CSPs, NSPs and cloud integrators deal with thousands of enterprises. EPN allows users to control network service management via a proven set of APIs that allow customers to self-provision multiple new connections instantaneously. Equinix Cloud Exchange is able to manage at scale because EPN has been architected to leverage an SDN-based approach, where users specify their requirements in high-level service-based terms and EPN automates the underlying low-level network management operations.
  • Modular Architecture: EPN employs a modular, service-based architecture through which new services are described via high-level YANG language models. Today, EPN provides Layer 2 connection management, virtual local area network (VLAN) management and link aggregation services. However, its modular architecture makes it easy for EPN to roll out new services in future releases at higher Open System Interconnection (OSI) networking layers and also to orchestrate third-party network management services.
  • Multi-Cloud Awareness: From the very beginning, EPN has been designed to operate in a multi-cloud environment. Thus, it uses the notion of “transactions” to configure distributed resources (e.g. switches) across multiple clouds as a single atomic operation.
  • Vendor Neutrality: EPN is a logically centralized SDN subsystem that is hardware vendor-agnostic. The SDN subsystem abstracts the underlying network topology. This allows both cloud providers and enterprises using EPN to seamlessly deploy switches from multiple vendors and maintain a vendor-neutral strategy.

In sum, just as Equinix has grown to become a leader in providing interconnectivity solutions to Enterprises and NSPs, we are also leading the cloud interconnectivity industry through the capabilities of Equinix Cloud Exchange.  Equinix Cloud Exchange is a multi-cloud interconnectivity solution that satisfies the high performance, availability and security requirements of today’s CIOs.  With Equinix Programmable Network (EPN) at its core, it provides us with a software-defined, next-generation network management platform. EPN and Cloud Exchange put Equinix, its customers and its partners squarely at the forefront of the cloud industry.

Equinix Programmable Network (EPN): A Dynamic Foundation for Multi-cloud

Cloud computing is here to stay. Most enterprise CIOs I speak with are turning to the cloud to increase business agility and enable elasticity for both their application portfolios and business processes. And, in almost all cases, they are adopting more than one cloud platform to support their business applications – applications that require multiple services that run on multiple clouds. This practice of multi-cloud, multi-platform deployments addresses the unique requirements of these business applications, while also providing better value via higher availability and scale than single cloud deployments.

Yet, the move to this multi-cloud architecture can be hindered by the time and effort it takes to provision individual ports and connections to each cloud platform – often measured in weeks, not the seconds that are required to be truly agile. We designed the Equinix Cloud Exchange specifically to meet these provisioning needs and enable customers to connect to multiple cloud service providers (CSPs) either via colocating in an Equinix data center, or through their choice of network services providers (NSPs) through a single port connection.

At the heart of Equinix Cloud Exchange is the Equinix Programmable Network (EPN), the foundational layer that enables this.  EPN takes a software-defined networking (SDN) approach and allows customers to self-provision these connections instantaneously. It’s highly scalable, provides ease of management via automation and ensures customers can maintain a vendor-neutral strategy.

As we continue to develop the EPN platform, we are ensuring that the core of the EPN software adheres to the following principles:

  • Agility and Management at Scale: Manually provisioning, monitoring and trouble-shooting network connections isn’t practical in an agile, multi-cloud era, in which CSPs, NSPs and cloud integrators deal with thousands of enterprises. EPN allows users to control network service management via a proven set of APIs that allow customers to self-provision multiple new connections instantaneously. Equinix Cloud Exchange is able to manage at scale because EPN has been architected to leverage an SDN-based approach, where users specify their requirements in high-level service-based terms and EPN automates the underlying low-level network management operations.
  • Modular Architecture: EPN employs a modular, service-based architecture through which new services are described via high-level YANG language models. Today, EPN provides Layer 2 connection management, virtual local area network (VLAN) management and link aggregation services. However, its modular architecture makes it easy for EPN to roll out new services in future releases at higher Open System Interconnection (OSI) networking layers and also to orchestrate third-party network management services.
  • Multi-Cloud Awareness: From the very beginning, EPN has been designed to operate in a multi-cloud environment. Thus, it uses the notion of “transactions” to configure distributed resources (e.g. switches) across multiple clouds as a single atomic operation.
  • Vendor Neutrality: EPN is a logically centralized SDN subsystem that is hardware vendor-agnostic. The SDN subsystem abstracts the underlying network topology. This allows both cloud providers and enterprises using EPN to seamlessly deploy switches from multiple vendors and maintain a vendor-neutral strategy.

In sum, just as Equinix has grown to become a leader in providing interconnectivity solutions to Enterprises and NSPs, we are also leading the cloud interconnectivity industry through the capabilities of Equinix Cloud Exchange.  Equinix Cloud Exchange is a multi-cloud interconnectivity solution that satisfies the high performance, availability and security requirements of today’s CIOs.  With Equinix Programmable Network (EPN) at its core, it provides us with a software-defined, next-generation network management platform. EPN and Cloud Exchange put Equinix, its customers and its partners squarely at the forefront of the cloud industry.

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