Monday, November 23, 2009

Equinix Purchase of Switch - Decline of the Massive Data Center

Three years ago, Equinix would have never seriously considered buying Switch and Data. Switch facilities were of a smaller scale, lower power density and more broadly distributed. All of these points were the converse of Equinix' stated strategic tenets at the time.

So did Switch reinvent itself or Equinix radically alter its strategy? In truth a little of both happened, but even more this is an indicator in a significant shift in market direction influenced by a number of factors.

What seemed like an insatiable drive for higher power density and ever bigger and more reliable data centers has slowed if not all together abated. Although motivated by the drive to reduce energy costs. the shift to virtual environments is also starting to significantly impact data center procurement.

The trend in developing a hardware platform for a virtual or cloud implementation is to seek the optimum price point for hardware, which often means stopping well short of top of the line high density blades. Architecture is also advancing such that many clients are achieving distributed and self healing computing environments. Even though we have seen some celebrated "cloud failures" there is an increasing number of customers seeking lower physical infrastructure reliability, and price points.

I haven't even touched on potential shrinking footprints with full-scale virtualization, but let's just suffice to say that Equinix apparently views it wiser to invest more in broadening their foot print and product line and (perhaps) less in building new mega data centers.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Colocation in Central Europe

Last week I had the pleasure of reviewing a number of colocation facilities in Hungary, Romania, Poland, and the Czech Republic. We saw facilities at many different stages of development and product offering.

In some facilities it was a trip back to the early 90s. Some of these facilities had literally hundreds of tower servers on utility shelves like you would use for storage in your basement. Apparently, this has remained a low cost hosting option in Central Europe. Most of these facilities are fully lights out. If the customer cannot fix their server remotely, it is removed from the data center for them to work on it. Customers are not allowed on the data center floor.

There is also a considerable amount of hosting by the U, managed services, and cabinet colocation. Most communication is via VPN or dedicated telco circuit, with very little metro ethernet.

Internet connectivity is almost exclusively to the west, with Frankfurt, Vienna, London, and Amsterdam noted as popular interconnection points.