Equinix might not be the first service provider that would immediately come to mind as a global Ethernet player.
All that changed with the debut of its Equinix's Carrier Ethernet Exchange platform, which it offers on its International Business Exchange (IBX) data centers. Now, Equinix is right in mix of the Ethernet-Network to Network (E-NNI) ecosystem.
Equinix did not have to really look that far to develop its platform to enable global E-NNI arrangements. Taking a leverage and extend approach, Equinix found inspiration right in the data system program it provides for Internet peering and other applications.
"What the network guys have been saying, and I lived it before coming here, is that the biggest challenge is that this NNI process can take 9-12 months per carrier and there weren't any standards to build this platform or accelerate that interconnection piece," said Jarrett Appleby, Chief Marketing Officer for Equinix.
Similar to the way it has been providing neutral interconnection and IP peering services for major carriers through building out data centers, Equinix's Carrier Ethernet Exchange platform leverages Alcatel-Lucent's router portfolio, will give service providers a common point to expand their Ethernet footprint.
Among other functions, Equinix's platform will enable service providers to interconnect and pass data between Ethernet services and the ability to translate between different carrier Ethernet offerings to ensure transparent service as well as to develop an interconnection technical specification. Equinix will deliver the new Ethernet service via its global International Business Exchange (IBX) data centers.
Equinix is tapping into what has become a lucrative segment of the Ethernet market.
While service providers have been developing their own one-off E-NNI arrangements and access arrangements with other carriers and the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) continues to hammer out E-NNI standards, the process has been anything but simple. In developing its Carrier Ethernet Exchange platform, Equinix found that three large partners told it that they only had enough resources and time to pursue only three interconnection agreements.
"It's still a labor-intensive one to one process," Appleby said. "I came from Reliance which bought Yipes and so I understand that Ethernet is the fastest growing service in the data networking space, but it traditionally has been localized because of this challenge of interconnection."
Equinix's E-NNI strategy is already gaining momentum.
To date, Equinix has established relationships with seven service provider customers (AboveNet, Exponential-e, Hibernia Atlantic, Level 3, PCCW Global, Reliance Globalcom and Tinet) to be part of its Carrier Ethernet Exchange platform.