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Verizon, Equinix cooperate on SDI to colo data centers

Verizon is offering a software-defined interconnection to Equinix colo data centers. The Verizon-Equinix service is an alternative to a physical network connection.

Verizon has launched a software-defined interconnect service that lets businesses establish a private IP connection with Equinix's Cloud Exchange Fabric.

Companies can allocate preprovisioned Verizon IP bandwidth for connecting to the Cloud Exchange Fabric. Once linked to the Equinix platform, companies can connect to business or SaaS partners and cloud service providers that are part of Equinix's business exchange network.

The Cloud Exchange Fabric provides companies with access to Equinix's 115 International Business Exchange (IBX) data centers. Launched this week, the Verizon-Equinix service, which Verizon has built on top of its MPLS network, offers an alternative to establishing an individual connection to each partner or cloud provider.

"This allows them to [connect] quickly and efficiently and cost-effectively," said Courtney Munroe, an analyst at IDC, of the Verizon offering.

The Equinix fabric uses a set of APIs to connect to companies on the IBX network. The platform offers such services as real-time provisioning, connection visibility and, now, the option of using Verizon's software-defined interconnect (SDI) service, which launches a virtualized network connection to the Equinix platform.

The trend toward network virtualization

Service providers use network virtualization software to split up bandwidth into independent channels and then assign those channels to customers. Verizon has used network virtualization in providing software-defined WAN and security services. Verizon's new SDI service is an expansion of the company's use of network virtualization, which, until now, was used mostly for software-defined WAN and security services, said Steve Vachon, an analyst at Technology Business Research Inc.

"This [SDI] is really the next platform leveraging software-defined networking," Vachon said. 

The Verizon-Equinix offering would appeal to large enterprises that, for example, have offices in New York but want to use an Equinix data center in London to test and develop business applications for customers or partners in Europe.

"You're connecting to the New York [Equinix] data center, and then you're riding their cloud infrastructure," Munroe said.

Tapping into the Equinix exchange frees an enterprise from having to spend money on establishing network capabilities in London, Munroe said. Companies can also lease computing and storage from Equinix.

Once testing is complete, a company could then decide whether to launch a permanent facility for serving European customers or sticking with Equinix, Munroe said.

As a market trend, the Verizon-Equinix deal is the latest example of how service providers have chosen to partner -- rather than compete -- with co-location companies. A year ago, AT&T sold 31 data centers to Brookfield Infrastructure Partners for $1.1 billion, and Verizon sold its 29 data centers to Equinix in 2016.

Rather than compete with co-location providers and infrastructure-as-a-service providers, such as AWS, Microsoft and Google, service providers are focusing on providing the networks that enterprises use to connect to those companies.

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