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Equinix embarks on big data push to inform new datacentre designs and builds

Colocation giant Equinix outlines its plans to use IoT and big data analytics to improve the design of its carrier neutral facilities

Colocation giant Equinix is embarking on a datacentre infrastructure management-focused big data analytics project to improve the design and build of its facilities.

The initiative will see the company track a wide range of variables in its facilities – including the temperature, humidity and generator status  – and combine the findings with weather or energy consumption data to find out how external forces impact on performance.

Speaking to Computer Weekly at the Equinix Innovation through Interconnection event in London, Michael Winterson, managing director of Equinix Services, said the project is part of a push by the company to create its own datacentre infrastructure management (DCIM) software.

The company previously relied on off-the-shelf DCIM tools to keep tabs on its environment, but their scope and scale proved insufficient for Equinix’s needs, Winterson explained.

“Most systems are tied to specific suppliers and have specific limitations on what data they collect, how you can visualise that data and what you can do with it,” he said.

“We wanted a system that allows us to incorporate the data from any supplier’s device from anywhere in the world and visualise it in any way we see fit. Once we’ve written it, we expect it to be open,” he added.

The initiative is still in the planning stages, but it has the potential to transform the way Equinix kits out its datacentres, of which there are currently 146 worldwide.

“We’re going to collect all the data. We don’t know why yet, but – in the long run – the vision is it will help us design a better datacentre,” he said.

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The threat public cloud services pose to the long-term survival of the colocation market has emerged as a major talking point in the datacentre industry of late.

This is a major reason why Equinix has sought in recent years to reposition its carrier neutral colocation facilities as somewhere enterprises can also use to access cloud services from the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, said Winterson.

“Cloud really started coming into its own in 2012, when we started to see enterprises adopting cloud, particularly for bespoke applications that stood apart from the rest of the computer system,” he said.

“We looked at that as a threat to our business because – of course – we provide colocation services that house servers and storage, and we began to question our role in this space.”

The decision to create colocation sites with interconnection points for various cloud service providers is paying off now, as the way enterprises use cloud continues to evolve and develop.

“We are seeing enterprises say they have a multi-cloud strategy, which means figuring out how to connect to as many cloud service providers as they can,” he said. 

“And they’re also starting to build a matrix of prioritisation for all their disparate applications, and they’re picking off the most important ones and making business decisions about where they should live, and that’s brand new. Twelve months ago very few companies thought that way.” 

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