Equinix Metal available, may transform data center, co-location giant Equinix

Equinix now has a key piece for its cloud platform and aims to move data center infrastructure around "at the speed of software."

Equinix said Equinix Metal is generally available in a move that transforms the co-location data center firm into a cloud infrastructure platform player.

The company's Equinix Metal effort is an automated interconnected bare metal service that enables enterprises to deploy cloud infrastructure with a few clicks via application programming interfaces (APIs).

Equinix Metal is the result of Equinix's purchase of Packet and internal development. Zachary Smith, managing director of bare metal compute at Equinix and former CEO of Packet, said the aim of Equinix Metal is to deploy physical infrastructure "at software speed" across the platform.

"We've transformed from real estate to be more of a platform. We have more than 1,000 people of the product team and engineering," said Smith. "The value prop is that we have big global reach and an interconnected platform. We offer physical compute to use with strong APIs that can be deployed virtually."

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With Equinix Metal, the company has a key building block for Platform Equinix and its parts such as Equinix Fabric, which is aimed at hybrid and multi-cloud architectures.

Equinix's footprint includes more than 210 data centers in 26 countries. Equinix Metal is currently available in 4 metros with 10 more planned through the first quarter. Equinix on Oct. 1 also completed the acquisition of 13 data centers from Bell Canada to give it 15 total data centers in Canada.

Also: GIC, Equinix partner to build data centres in Japan | Equinix eyes opportunity to help enterprises scale globally without friction | Equinix adds network functions virtualization to its platform, launches Network Edge | Equinix expands its ECX Fabric network to more metros, clouds

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On Equinix's second quarter earnings conference call, CEO Charles Meyers put Equinix Metal and the Packet purchase in context.

This was a way for us to continue to adapt to the changing consumption patterns of our customers in terms of how they want to gain access to the value of the Equinix Platform. By adding the bare-metal service that Packet brings to the table and integrating that with the bare-metal service that we had under development organically, we think this really represents a big opportunity for us to continue to adapt to those changing needs.

Equinix Metal features

Equinix Metal includes the following features:

  • Click and configure provisioning via API and common libraries with multi-cloud deployment and management tools.
  • Integration with Equinix Fabric and software-defined interconnection services with low latency.
  • Ecosystem support and automation for DevOps, hybrid cloud and open source tools including Kubernetes.

As for use cases, Equinix Metal can be used to deploy hybrid clouds, automate DevOps, deliver edge compute and comply with data residency regulations.

With Equinix Metal, the company can more effectively target various industries and use cases. For instance, Equinix's go-to-market strategy includes everything from cloud native and SaaS companies to networking players like content delivery networks to enterprises and hyperscale providers.

When asked whether competing with the customer base was a risk, Smith said Equinix has a long history of providing an ecosystem and that hyperscale cloud providers are partners. "Equinix has been ecosystem nurturing for more than 20 years," said Smith. "We're staying where we offer value to customers."

Nevertheless, Equinix's platform will allow customers to move physical infrastructure around without friction. There's potential that Equinix could be the control play for multi-cloud deployments. That market position is being chased by multiple cloud and data center vendors.

Transforming Equinix

Equinix Metal is a key element to how the company develops its future product roadmap. Equinix traditionally has been a co-location and interconnect vendor that owns data centers so you don't have to. In fact, Equinix's corporate structure is as a real estate investment trust.

The acquisition of Packet changes the formula for the company. In August, Karl Strohmeyer, chief customer and revenue officer at Equinix, explained the importance of Equinix Metal.

Strohmeyer said at the KeyBanc Capital investment conference:

Our larger, more strategic enterprise buyers who are a key target of this capability have been asking for this for a long time. And a typical use case that they've been asking for is, look, Equinix, we love the fact that we're physically deployed with performance hubs across 5 to 7 locations around the world. We've localized our infrastructure. We're interconnecting to the clouds locally. We're addressing data sovereignty issues as a result of those hubs, and we love the performance and benefit we're seeing across our enterprise. But there are 10 or 12 other markets that we would love to trial whether or not this makes sense for us to localize our workloads there.

Now when those customers want to trial, Equinix will have the parts--edge, bare metal, fabric and interconnect exchange ecosystem--to offer value.

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