One of the biggest infrastructure trends at present is the rising importance of the network edge. As the content world pushes its caches closer to the consumer, data center infrastructure providers have responded and few have done so with more vigor than EdgeConneX. With two dozen locations in the US and more on the way, the company recently announced plans to take their campaign across the Atlantic to tackle the European edge too. With us today to talk about those European expansion plans and a few other topics is Clint Heiden, EdgeConneX's Chief Commercial Officer.
TR: In January you announced an expansion to Amsterdam. How is that deployment going so far?
CH: We’re officially opening Phase 1 this month. Phase 1 is an 8MW building combining a dense broadband presence with locally available content and cloud on-ramps. This particular Edge Data Center® also houses the space for our Hybrid Cloud solutions for enterprise customers. We’ve found that the ideal solution for companies moving to the edge is a hybrid environment whereby they can have proximity between their data center environment and that of the cloud. This creates a more secure solution and ultimately opens the door to more workloads that may be latency dependent.
All in all, this approach speeds the enterprise’s adoption through greater confidence in security, speed and proximity – and it’s why we say that even in core markets, the edge may be broken. We believe the ecosystem we’ve created represents where our industry is headed and where the most growth is anywhere on the globe. We also have larger phases in Amsterdam (2 and 3) under construction and they are mostly sold out.
TR: How does the European edge differ from the U.S.? Have you had to make any changes to your operating model?
CH: There’s really no difference to us in terms of how we view opportunity globally. However, to your question, there are some differences worth noting. The first is Amsterdam itself. Core markets in the U.S. represent locations where all parts of the Internet’s ecosystem exist and in an N+1 state.
Let me explain N+1, because I’m talking about something different than physical infrastructure. I’m referring to the fact that Ashburn has multiple clouds locally available – i.e., N+1 on the clouds. In Amsterdam, that’s not the case. One of the Big Two is not locally available in Amsterdam and that impacts an enterprise’s options, security and workload migration. We think the right ecosystem has not presented itself to make the market in Amsterdam attractive enough relative to the investment required by the cloud companies – which is surprising for one of Europe’s most thriving technology markets.
With our combination of broadband (think consumer and enterprise reach), content, application and security solutions – along with available hybrid enterprise – we’ve changed that. Data sovereignty laws and regulations will also impact the edge and drive more of an enterprise adoption. Whereas in the U.S., the first-movers are mostly technology companies, in Europe, the first-movers will be a combination of technology and enterprise. This impacts the footprint we build for our Edge Data Centers. Our first two Edge Data Centers, we have not announced the second market, are significantly bigger as a result. We’re also finding that our approach regarding proximity and building where our customers need to be and go perfectly aligns to the needs of the European marketplace. Key use cases around servicing and enabling the growth engines of the next-generation Internet continue to be content caching and delivery at the edge; network peering at the new edge; cloud delivery and high-speed on-ramps for the enterprise at the edge (hybrid) – whether U.S. or Europe or South America for that matter.
TR: What other markets might be attractive to EdgeConneX in Europe and elsewhere in the world?
CH: Frankly, all markets are on the table and of significant interest to us. However, when you are building the New Edge for content, peering and cloud, it is essential that you work collaboratively with your customers and relevant consortiums. As you know, we never build on-spec, and location and proximity to the eye-ball and ISP infrastructure is paramount. We don’t speculatively build massive data centers and then hope to build an ecosystem in that site over time. We instead work closely with our customers - some of the world’s largest network, content and cloud service providers - and build tailored facilities to their needs, exactly where they need them. EdgeConneX has what is probably the world’s leading technology platform for “site-ack” or site-acquisition and this helps us work with our customers to choose the best possible location for all the ecosystems we and they serve. Once these meta-cloud service providers deploy in our Edge Data Centers - which are designed to scale and support their future needs – we work together to nurture and support them and the ecosystems that naturally benefit from and demand proximity to, these next-generation-internet business hubs. The benefits of bringing the entire content and cloud supply chain to the lowest latency access point for regional consumers – eyeballs or enterprises – cannot be understated.
TR: How important is enterprises’ cloud connectivity in EdgeConneX’s business model now?
CH: It’s very important. As I said before, it is a fundamental element of our value proposition around the edge. We are bringing cloud to enterprises where they need it because the old core is a broken edge.
Before we embarked on establishing the “New Edge for Cloud,” if enterprises wanted to utilize the meta-clouds, they were forced to locate their transaction infrastructure in and around the old network peering hubs – the old core. It was the only cost-effective way to move their data in and out of the large scale elastic or on-demand cloud platforms. And in so doing, we’re at the mercy of the core providers exploitative pricing and service policies. We believe that this is fundamental to the “ideas economy” and businesses wishing to engage should not be forced to transact their business in only a handful of locations – the old network core.
We are actively enabling the cloud service providers to deploy at the edge, in close proximity to the enterprises they look to serve. With the volume, variety and velocity of data that is and will continue to be created by cloud services and the emerging IoT economies, it is even more critical to have those applications, workloads, and data sets as close as possible to the customers who are using and accessing them. On top of that, if a private, secure access path to that data is established, then enterprises can overcome many of the impediments to cloud adoption such as security, compliance, performance and latency.
TR: Where do you see the best growth prospects for your overall business, from within current markets or from new ones?
CH: That is an interesting question. Within our current Edge Data Center portfolio, content, cloud and IoT solution providers and integrators continue to grow at an unprecedented rate. Along with the exponential demand for these services across the globe, EdgeConneX is in an excellent position to respond by building on our track record and reputation and assisting the key market leaders to establish new high-performance platform deployments in new markets at an unprecedented scale. I think you will continue to see tremendous growth in our current portfolio, but you will also see us adding many more markets on a global basis.
TR: What's the biggest challenge you generally face in bringing a new edge market online?
CH: We’ve turned up 24 new data centers in 24 months with another six on the way, along with a very healthy pipeline. Therefore, we’ve become extremely efficient in the process of how we bring on new facilities in new markets. On average, in North America, we can turn up a new facility in under six months. In Europe, it’s about nine months. I guess the biggest challenge is just keeping up with demand, which is why we have such a vigorous approach to systems and program management. We have only scraped the surface, to be honest. It’s a wonderful challenge to have, obviously, and we’re up for the task. 2016 is the Year of the Edge and we believe this trend will continue for the foreseeable future.
TR: Thank you for talking with Telecom Ramblings!