In this edition of Voices of the Industry, Phillip Marangella, CMO of EdgeConneX, explores how the hybrid multi-cloud ecosystem at the Edge enables enterprises to achieve digital transformation.
In our last three articles here we’ve focused on the Edge and the benefits of a more distributed architecture for both enterprises and end user customers. We touched on a key point that we’ll dive into here, this time from a service provider perspective: the hybrid multi-cloud ecosystem at the Edge. It’s not just about the Edge, and it’s not just about the ecosystem. It’s both. It’s the combination that helps service providers reach more enterprises and give them the solutions they need to fully achieve their digital transformation goals.
What is a hybrid multi-cloud ecosystem at the Edge?
Let’s break it down.
- Hybrid multi-cloud is the preferred cloud model for most enterprises because it allows for flexibility in terms of deployment type and choice in cloud service provider(s), thus optimizing each workload. In the context of a hybrid multi-cloud ecosystem at the Edge, we’re talking about local access to bare metal cloud, cloud storage, security solutions, colocation, and secure, private access to multiple cloud services via native and/or SDN-based cloud on-ramps. What’s the end goal? Cloud guru Sarbjeet Johal put it well: “The goal of a hybrid multi-cloud strategy is to gain agility while ensuring stability, or in other words, targeting the right workload to the right place.” When you do that at the Edge, you also improve application performance (lower latency) and achieve a better TCO (via reduction in network costs).
- The ecosystem is the community of complementary service providers that together – and only together – can meet the full needs of the enterprise customer. I like to think of it as analogous to a smartphone with its simple, accessible collection of apps that save me time, effort, and money. Without a smartphone, to get comparable functionality I would need to carry a compass, a measuring tape, a camera, a phone, a pager, a music player, maps, an address book, and a host of other tools. With a smartphone, I have one device that gives me all of that functionality, all in one place. For app developers, the benefit of being on that smartphone platform rather than as a stand-alone tool or device is being part of a better, holistic solution that keeps customers coming back, and having access to customers that they might not otherwise. Likewise, in a data center, having access to best-of-breed service providers available in one location local to the customer greatly improves the simplicity and convenience for end users.
- The Edge is everywhere and anywhere businesses and communities need to be connected to the wider world of communications, content, and cloud-based services. Using the smartphone analogy where the ecosystem is a collection of solutions available to me in one place, the Edge is about bringing those solutions as close to the customer as possible, rather than making the customer come to you.
Each one of the components noted above has its own benefits independent of the other. Public cloud at the core, by itself, still provides tremendous flexibility. But for some workloads its performance and costs fall short. A storage-as-a-service or network-as-a-service or even a managed service provider may provide much-needed expertise but only in a particular area. The key to really delivering the performance, cost, security, and expertise benefits enterprises care about is the combination of the Edge, the hybrid multi-cloud strategy, and the ecosystem, in one place, in proximity to the enterprise and its end users.
How an ecosystem at the Edge enables enterprises to achieve digital transformation
Digital transformation is most CIOs’ #1 priority – and digital transformation requires the cloud. Yet, 62% of IT leaders say their cloud migrations projects are “very difficult” or “failing.” The top challenges they cite are performance, cost, security, and expertise. A hybrid multi-cloud ecosystem at the Edge helps enterprises overcome those challenges by delivering:
- Hybrid flexibility – to run some workloads on-premises, some in private cloud, and some in public clouds
- Multi-cloud agility – to choose the right cloud for the right workload in the right place
- Ecosystem choice – to choose from best-of-breed providers that can help optimize the cloud journey with an integrated cloud solution
- At the Edge proximity – a hybrid multi-cloud ecosystem local to the enterprise that yields both the optimal low latency performance and cost savings benefits
So you’re a cloud provider, or an MSP, or an XaaS provider – what do you care?
Your customers want the cloud to be easy, economical, and fast. It is, when it’s a hybrid multi-cloud ecosystem at the Edge. For now, being part of that ecosystem is a competitive differentiator for service providers. Soon it will be table stakes.
For service providers of all types looking to join a hybrid multi-cloud ecosystem at the Edge, consider:
- Is it in the right place? The goal of a data center solution provider is to help our service provider customers connect with and service their end users. The data center is the enabler, and its location and scale are driven not by dots on a map but by customer demand. So the ‘right place’ might be Ashburn, but it might also be Barcelona.
- Is the timing right? It’s no secret that speed is the name of the game when it comes to serving the exponentially increasing demand for data center capacity. For data center providers, doing that well requires a combination of scalable capacity on the ground and the ability to rapidly develop new greenfield facilities.
- Is the configuration right? Many people still think of the Edge as a small or micro data center, and certainly that’s true in some cases. But the Edge can also be a hyperscale campus. It’s not defined by the size of the deployment. From 100kW to 100MW, an Edge data center is whatever size is necessary to best serve end users’ needs and give service providers the scale to meet that demand in real time.
- Is it connected? The importance of efficiently distributed network capacity and a diversity of network access solutions will only increase as network traffic increases. Wherever it’s located and whatever size it is, an Edge data center should be a network connection hub, and a hub is only as good as the other locations it connects to and the variety of routes to get there – MSOs, ISPs, CDNs, fiber, and mobile providers, as well as on-ramps for the major cloud providers.
- Is it sustainable? Service providers and their customers are increasingly adopting sustainability goals, so the hybrid multi-cloud ecosystem at the Edge must support them. For us, sustainability has several facets, from ensuring fair labor practices in emerging markets to creative solutions for sustainable power and water even in resource-deficient markets.
- Is it automated? Efficiently and effectively running a global network of hybrid multi-cloud ecosystem data centers requires automation, and sophisticated software to oversee it. Service providers should be able to manage deployments remotely from anywhere with visibility into all aspects of operations – across all facilities – from a single pane of glass.
- Is it integrated? Trying to figure out which cloud configuration and which providers or other services can facilitate digital transformation is challenging for most enterprises. Having an MSP be a part of the Edge ecosystem is vital, as they can help develop integrated solutions for customers – solutions that bring together the ecosystems at the Edge in a faster, cheaper, and/or more efficient way.
The hybrid multi-cloud ecosystem at the Edge offers service providers proximity to more customers in more places who are looking for the tools to make their cloud migration and digital transformation easier, more feature rich, and more economical. It enables service providers to be part of the larger digital transformation solution that customers need – with the added marketing, mindshare, and managed service benefits. It’s an approach where everyone wins, where 1+1+1 truly is greater than 3.
This article was written by Phillip Marangella, CMO of EdgeConneX, the data center provider helping cloud service providers around the world get an edge over competitors by giving their customers the easy, economical, fast cloud they expect. Learn more about hybrid multi-cloud ecosystems at the Edge.