Equinix Provides Close Connection for E-Business

Several operations are under way throughout the United States to speed up the Internet. Some ISPs use private peering, where ISPs have direct connections to one another. Others rely on brokered peering, which gives larger ISPs more significant bandwidth because they have more traffic. But not one company is taking the approach that Equinix Inc. (www.equinix.com) has.

Equinix’s approach houses a business' data center in its facility, where it is interconnected with every large ISP in the country. Equinix calls this the Internet Business Exchange (IBX), and it has attracted the attention of some heavy hitters. Microsoft Corp., Cisco Systems Inc. and others have taken notice to the tune of a $12.4 million dollar investment.

"The reason why Microsoft invested in our company really comes down to the scalability of the Internet in general," says Jay Adelson, founder and chief technology officer for the year old Equinix. "They believe our business is absolutely essential for the Internet to grow at this pace."

Adelson explains that the difference between his company and a Web hosting provider or ASP is that while providers have the right environment, you’re forced to connect to that one network first, before all others. At Equinix, the routers from most major ISPs are in the same building as your data center. "It seems like common sense, but it's often forgotten that if you got an e-business sitting on the Internet, an AOL user has to go through a lot to get there," Adelson says.

John Coons, vice president of public network and Internet infrastructure at Dataquest (www.dataquest.com), says hosting content at Equinix could be the right situation for many companies. "Those peering points are an ideal point to host content because that's where the big fat pipes are," Coons says.

Despite the significant investments from the likes of Microsoft and Cisco, Equinix's Adelson says he's made it clear to both companies that they'll get no more consideration than competing vendors will for the products he chooses. One example of his company’s independence that he cites is that many of the switches used are from Fore Systems Inc. (www.fore.com), not Cisco, because Fore's products fit the model Equinix uses.

Adelson also touts 24x7x365 staffing that is well trained to perform any operation a company may need remotely preformed. Equinix boasts high security -- designed by the same people that developed the security at the Federal Reserve -- with distant entrances, a well-constructed exterior and armed security guards to withstand natural and terroristic disasters. Once inside, entrants must pass numerous biometric security scans to get near the cages that house the data centers.

Even without all the extra measures, Dataquest's Coons says security shouldn’t be a problem if a company has an online remote mirror, which many of the larger companies that take part in something like this probably do. If an attack or disaster hit the Equinix facility, the DNS server would pick the next available IP address.

Plans are being developed for 15 domestic and 20 international sites. Adelson explains the market is greater outside the United States, where Equinix is having talks with governments from Malaysia, India, Thailand, South Africa and several nations in South America.

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