Platform Equinix: How the Data Center and Cloud Ecosystem Transforms the Global WAN

S. Soh

Summary Bullets:

  • New network service offerings are emerging and giving enterprise customers more options; the Equinix and Coevolve partnership is a good example.
  • Cloud connectivity and network edge services will become more important in supporting different IT workloads, and enterprises are better served by service providers that have a strong partner ecosystem.

Even for multi-national corporations (MNCs), there are now alternative providers to global carriers and system integrators for wide area network (WAN) services. With the adoption of cloud services, the ongoing shift to enable remote working, and business uncertainties (e.g., travel, retail, and hospitality), the network solution needs to be more agile to adapt to changing requirements.  The Equinix and Coevolve partnership is just one example.

Coevolve Providing Agile Networks Through Partners

Equinix announced Coevolve will provide its telco-independent, fully integrated SD-WAN, security, and cloud networking solutions on Platform Equinix. Founded in 2014, Coevolve is a WAN service specialist headquartered in Sydney and it was one of the earliest adopters of SD-WAN.  Today, the company supports international firms in more than 78 countries on six continents.  Coevolve is leveraging Equinix’s Network Edge and Equinix Fabric as an extension to its SD-WAN and SASE offerings.  This gives the WAN provider global reach without owning any major infrastructure assets.  It is the disruptive virtual network operator (VNO) model of the 2000s opening to the masses through digital platforms and data centers placed at some of the Internet’s businesses intersections.

Coevolve has been developing agile WAN solutions through partnership with technology vendors including VMware (VeloCloud), Zscaler, Cato Networks, Aryaka, and Dell Technologies, as well as infrastructure partners (e.g., Equinix, CITIC, Megaport, Expereo, AWS, Microsoft Azure, and SuperLoop). Coevolve’s infrastructure partners are non-traditional telcos but are becoming a part of the expanding networking services ecosystem. Through the partnership with Microsoft, Coevolve offers managed Azure Virtual WAN as well as managed virtual SD-WAN edge and managed virtual firewall appliances in Azure.  The company has been most successful in winning mid-tier MNCs such as Hansen Technologies, Detmold Group, Probe Group, AutoPacific, Horizon Global, MPC Kinetic, and Interface.  But it has also demonstrated the ability to serve larger customers.  One example is RGIS, a U.S.-headquartered inventory services company that has over 30,000 employees globally.  Coevolve and VMware are helping to transform its WAN connecting more than 400 sites globally.

Besides offering SD-WAN as a more cost-effective solution to MPLS-based IP VPN, alternative providers such as Coevolve are also challenging traditional network carriers in managed services. Coevolve has been offering co-managed SD-WAN since 2015 which is well received by customers.  The company has recently introduced ‘Smart Services’ which provide new monitoring and management capabilities through data on the health, performance, and utilization of client networks.  Coevolve identifies anomalies and proactively raises incident tickets to address those issues before clients detect them.  There are also reporting capabilities and APIs that allow clients to access the raw data on their networks.

Through Equinix’s Network Edge, Coevolve can build an SD-WAN overlay directly to a location in the region where a user resides and traverse the Equinix Fabric to reach the workloads in other regions. This significantly improves the performance of the middle mile, overcoming the unpredictability of the public Internet but at a lower cost than the traditional MPLS network.  With IBX data centers located in major cities, Equinix becomes an attractive partner of alternative network providers like Coevolve.  Moreover, through Equinix, Coevolve can build logical connections to multiple cloud providers hosted in Equinix facilities.

Network Edge

Equinix’s vision of its ‘Network Edge’ solution is to deliver an automated platform to enable customers to select, configure, and connect virtual network services in minutes within its IBX data centers. As the company continues to add IBX in more metro areas, it is extending the network edge closer to customers – 10ms latency in metro areas.  Through partnerships with network solution vendors, Equinix is building out a catalogue of virtual network functions including SD-WAN edge device, router, and firewall.  Current partners include Aruba, Check Point, Cisco, Fortinet, Juniper Networks, Palo Alto Networks, VMware, and Versa Networks.  Equinix’s solution allows customers to set up a virtual network at its data center without the need to deploy their own hardware, which dramatically improves business agility.  Besides offering Network Edge through partners, Equinix is also offering the solution directly to enterprises and it has identified a few use cases.  These use cases include cloud-to-cloud routing for optimized application performance (e.g., connecting a website hosted in one cloud and the customer database in a different cloud), branch-to-cloud SD-WAN (e.g., extending the WAN to a new market), and disaggregating IT resources and deploying them closer to the edge for improved end-user experience.

Google Cloud Network

Another key development to watch is the introduction of Google Cloud’s Network Connectivity Center (NCC), which provides a single management console to create, connect, and manage heterogeneous on-premises and cloud networks leveraging Google’s global infrastructure. Customers can connect to VPNs, partner and dedicated interconnects, and third-party routers and SD-WANs.  After launching NCC with Cisco, Google Cloud has since added Fortinet, Palo Alto Networks, Versa Networks, and VMware to the platform.  Equinix has a global relationship with Google Cloud, and we see synergy integrating Equinix Fabric with the NCC management plane.  This will provide customers more options in building an infrastructure that bypasses the public Internet for better network and application performance.  Enterprise customers should evaluate alternative providers such as Coevolve and Equinix alongside the network carriers when they look for a partner for network transformation.  While cost is always a key factor, enterprise customers should also consider the flexibility the service provider offers, its partner ecosystem, and the technology roadmap.

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