Equinix aims for that "sweet spot" between colocation and public cloud

CEO Charles Meyers lays out how the co-location giant is evolving its business to serve businesses anxious to digitize but unready to move to the public cloud.

More than a year after the Covid-19 pandemic abruptly drove all business to the virtual world, every industry recognizes the value of strong digital infrastructure. Not every organization, however, is ready to jump on board with public cloud services. The digital infrastructure business Equinix, mostly known for its co-location business, sees an opportunity there to adapt and grow with its customers. 

"There are certain reasons why public cloud might not meet [customer] needs," CEO Charles Meyers told ZDNet. "But then they also want something more agile and more on demand than what colo provides." 

The company is offering a range of services -- such as Equinix Metal, a fully-automated, interconnected bare metal-as-a-service offering -- that hit "that sweet spot in the middle," Meyers said. 

"It's an adaptation of our business model that is trying to be responsive to the as-a-service consumption needs of our customers," he said. "What people are buying from Equinix is really the same -- they want our reach, they want access to our ecosystems, they want the interconnection possibilities that are that are present at Equinix -- but they want them in a slightly different package."

Beyond Equinix Metal, the company is selectively identifying infrastructure-related services it's well-suited to provide for its customers via a consumption-based model. That includes Equinix SmartKey, a SaaS-based secure key management and cryptography service. There's also a "time as a service" offering for latency-sensitive businesses like e-trading and gaming. 

At the same time, Equinix's relationship with public cloud providers continues to grow. Its robust ecosystem of network providers, built up over more than 20 years in business, has made the company a key partner for hyperscalers. 

On top of that, Equinix is a crucial link between the public cloud and the enterprise, with significant market leading share in cloud on-ramps. In its first quarter, Equinix added 21 new on-ramp wins, roughly the same level of on-ramp business it had in all of 2020. 

To further serve the hyperscale market, Equinix inked a deal, worth more than $1 billion, with Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC to jointly fund Equinix xScale data centers. These serve the unique core workload deployment needs of a targeted group of hyperscale companies. Since then, the xScale data center projects have grown into a $3 billion program, with planned data centers around the globe. 

Equinix also does joint sales with cloud providers. "What they're finding is that customers are saying, 'Yes, we absolutely embrace public cloud, it's a critical part of our future,'" Meyers said. "But they still have very significant needs that are not fully met by public cloud services... We jointly work with the customer to develop a hybrid cloud, multi-cloud solution."