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Craig Sharp, Dig­i­tal Realty, on the new Ser­vice Ex­change plat­form

Data cen­tre and colo­ca­tion provider Dig­i­tal Realty launched into the in­ter­con­nec­tion space on Septem­ber 22. Its CTO, Craig Sharp, ex­plains to Ja­son Mcgee-abe how its Ser­vice Ex­change plat­form has been re­ceived and how it dif­fers from what else is on the mar­ket

Hav­ing launched into the in­ter­con­nec­tion space over a month ago, how has the mar­ket re­sponded?

It’s been re­ally well re­ceived. One of the rea­sons is be­cause our cus­tomers guided us and helped shape the di­rec­tion of the plat­form. To­day, one of the top des­ti­na­tions on the in­ter­net is cloud ser­vice. More and more cus­tomers are try­ing to get the ben­e­fit of the pub­lic cloud but they’re re­ally con­cerned about the con­sump­tion mod­els that are for­warded to them. Some of our larger cus­tomers have been want­ing a very sim­plis­tic way to con­sume these cloud ser­vices and work­ing with our part­ner Me­ga­port we’ve brought Ser­vice Ex­change to mar­ket.

The abil­ity to sup­port large cloud com­pute nodes dif­fer­en­ti­ates us from other providers” Craig Sharp, CTO, Dig­i­tal Realty

You joined Dig­i­tal Realty from Equinix, what has been your main fo­cus in de­vel­op­ing the plat­form and what are its met­rics?

The Ser­vice Ex­change of­fer­ing is about sim­plic­ity and the main met­rics evolve around high through­put and low-la­tency ac­cess into this multi-cloud en­vi­ron­ment.

With the Telx ac­qui­si­tion [which com­pleted in Oc­to­ber 2015 for $1.86 bil­lion and dou­bled Dig­i­tal Realty’s size] we at­tained the Mar­ket­pla­ce­por­tal plat­form, which re­ally sim­pli­fies the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence from just or­der­ing tra­di­tional in­ter­con­nec­tion and colo­ca­tion ser­vices.

Tak­ing the frame­work of that por­tal and mar­ry­ing it to Me­ga­port’s elas­tic soft­ware- de­fined net­work (SDN) plat­form has been a core fo­cal point of our ini­tial work.

I joined from Equinix [Au­gust 2013 – Au­gust 2015] where I ran their cloud busi­ness unit and fo­cused on se­cur­ing on­ramps and bring­ing their cloud ex­change to mar­ket. There are lots of lessons learned about the ben­e­fits of new elas­tic SDN ca­pa­bil­i­ties, which will trans­late nicely as you see our roadmap of ser­vices com­ing to mar­ket, ex­pressly around Layer 3.

How is cus­tomer de­mand for hy­brid multi-cloud shap­ing the ser­vice?

In a colo­ca­tion en­vi­ron­ment, be­ing able to sup­port larger multi-mw in­ter­con­nected prod­ucts has been a breath of fresh air for our cus­tomers as they do not have to cut up their in­fra­struc­ture up and cre­ate a multi-tier ar­chi­tec­ture within a metro. We can sup­port it in one en­vi­ron­ment which al­le­vi­ates hav­ing to repli­cate net­work gear. They can have a pri­vate cloud and still get the ben­e­fit of in­ter­con­nected prod­ucts since they can ac­cess the pub­lic cloud.

There’s a lot of pres­sure for cus­tomers to marry their pri­vate net­work­ing in­fra­struc­ture to these pub­lic cloud ser­vices. For the ma­jor­ity of our cus­tomers they want a hy­brid multi-cloud, they want a lit­tle bit of Ama­zon, Mi­crosoft or Google, but they also want the abil­ity to di­rectly at­tach to their larger in­fra­struc­ture.

Equinix was a cus­tomer, but you’re now com­pet­ing. How does Ser­vice Ex­change dif­fer­en­ti­ate it­self from Equinix’s Cloud Ex­change?

We view Equinix as a great cus­tomer but our broader set of dig­i­tal cus­tomers needed to have a full suite of prod­ucts to make their ar­chi­tec­ture more vi­able. There’s huge de­mand for in­ter­con­nected scale or in­ter­con­nected whole­sale and our prod­uct is flex­i­ble to sup­port cus­tomers grow their busi­ness and larger foot­print re­quire­ments. The cloud providers also like the fact that we can ag­gre­gate and hand them traf­fic in an ef­fi­cient model, tak­ing out many com­plex­i­ties from Layer 3. Cus­tomers can leave their pri­vate traf­fic con­sump­tion with us and they can fo­cus on their ser­vices.

Over the last two years, Dig­i­tal Realty has also ap­pointed a new CEO, CFO and CIO, so what’s the ex­ec­u­tive whole­sale strat­egy?

In­ter­con­nected scale is crit­i­cal and the per­cent­age of cloud cus­tomers we have is phe­nom­e­nal (cloud rep­re­sented 21% of Dig­i­tal Realty’s to­tal an­nu­alised based rent as of June 30 and dig­i­tal econ­omy/cloud made up 68% of leas­ing ac­tiv­ity in the year up to July 31).

The abil­ity to sup­port large cloud com­pute nodes dif­fer­en­ti­ates us from other providers, as we have the dig­i­tal whole­sale ex­per­tise, and with the Telx ac­qui­si­tion we have the ca­pa­bil­ity to sup­port colo­ca­tion with a broader suite of in­ter­con­nec­tion prod­ucts.

To find out more about data cen­tres, cloud and OTT con­tent visit Ca­pac­ity Asia, 6 / 7 De­cem­ber 2016, Hong Kong

Sharp: Our colo­ca­tion cus­tomers are ex­cited with our multi-mw in­ter­con­nect

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