Thursday, October 19, 2017
Digital Is Reshaping Global Trade with New Speed, Insight, Reach
By Guest Contributor Published: 17:39, 10 October, 2017 Updated: 17:39, 10 October, 2017
Sara Baack, chief marketing officer at Equinix, talks switch to digital trade boosting Interconnection demand.
From the Silk Road to the Spice Route, trade routes have linked continents, spanned the oceans and reshaped the world over water and air, rail and highway. But the newest trade routes travel on a different medium, and involve a fiber that has nothing to do with silk!
Today’s hottest trade routes are digital, and they are connecting global commerce centers via high-speed fiber optic cable. They regularly traverse land and sea carrying everything from the latest video streaming sensations to the mission-critical cloud services that digital businesses can’t exist without. The data flows at the heart of this digital trade barely existed 15 years ago. But trade in digital services has more than doubled in the past decade, and is now about 50% of total services exports, according to McKinsey’s “Digital Globalization Report.”
As digital trade grows, the need for Interconnection – defined as private traffic exchange between businesses – is growing with it. In fact, The Global Interconnection Index, a new market study published by Equinix, projects that global trade of digital products and services will be a key driver of Interconnection demand in the coming years. Why? As data flows and transactions increase between customers, partners, and employees, more and more Interconnection will be needed to directly link these players with each other and with digital solutions in multiple global locations. The best-effort connectivity of the public internet won’t be enough, with its greater congestion and security risks. To be profitable, digital trade needs Interconnection.
The broad fabric of digital trade
Like the original trade routes, data flows in the digital economy will carry a wide a range of products and services. Some of today’s most in-demand digital products/services include:
- Every day a rich landscape of solutions is being digitally traded all over the world in virtually every industry, over networks and via the cloud, an essential digital trade conduit. Digital trade is providing the solutions that fuel revenues in nearly every industry. A cloud-based SaaS solution might be critical to help a financial services firm send out a high frequency trade order. A big data analytics solution may help a retailer better predict what consumers will and won’t buy, and adjust inventory or product development. We see digital trade in action every day with Equinix customers like vwdGroup, a German firm that supplies information and technology solutions to the investment industry. After consolidating its company-run data center footprint on our global platform, vwdGroup now leverages Interconnection to deliver its data and solutions globally, at lower costs, with better security and performance.
- An astounding amount of data is being produced today, but the resulting data sets must be efficiently and effectively stored and processed, and many need to be analyzed in real-time to have any value. This can’t happen without the coordination of a number of different data systems, processes and services across various vendors and solutions. Ultimately, what is being traded here is insight that can lead to new revenues, new innovation opportunities and greater business efficiency and security. For instance, programmatic advertising vendors inside our Ad-IX digital ecosystem at Equinix provide analytics that help advertisers get the right ads in front of the right customers at the right times.
- The massive amount of content online has completely transformed how people enjoy leisure activities such as watching TV. Cisco predicts that video content will be 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2021, and the video streaming industry is expected to expand to $70 billion by that time (MarketsandMarkets). These dynamics benefit companies like Equinix customer ContentBridge, which provides software and best practices to entertainment industry players who need to efficiently manage their growing content libraries among multiple business partners. After implementing an Interconnection Oriented Architecture™ (IOA™) strategy, ContentBridge leveraged Equinix’s global reach to get its media platform closer to its cloud providers and customers so it could offer more secure, higher-performing and scalable solutions that delivered content up to three times faster.
Protecting the future of digital trade
Trade on the Silk Road and Amber Road wouldn’t have flourished without, well, the roads! Similarly, there are some essential capabilities that enable and optimize the data flows at the core of digital trade, including:
- Network density: Access to a wide range of networks, subsea and terrestrial, is the only way to move digital goods and services exactly where they need to go at the necessary speed. The recent boom in subsea cable construction, aided by Equinix, will further enhance global digital trade by bringing richer access to some regions and new access to underserved regions. For example, Seaborn Networks partnered with us to open the first high-capacity subsea cable route (Seabras-1) between U.S. and Brazilian commercial and financial centers.
- Cloud density: Multicloud delivers countless services to businesses everywhere that support digital trade, from data analytics to e-commerce offerings. FreedomPay is a cloud-based digital commerce pioneer that provides ways for merchants to simplify complex digital payment environments. The company expanded its geographic footprint inside Equinix to get closer to its multiple business partners and cloud service providers. That move significantly improved its global reach and network performance, while reducing global networking costs by 60%.
Interconnection is key to leveraging cloud and network services, and enabling the rich collaboration between industries, regions, and partners that’s essential to compete today. It allows companies to be dispersed and global, rather being centralized and slow. That makes them dynamic, not static, and free to go where the digital trade winds blow.
Check out the Global Interconnection Index for insight into what’s happening now with Interconnection, and what’s ahead. It can help you compete and grow as digital trade continues to redefine global commerce.
AI and big data: for better, for worse?
By Guest Contributor Published: Updated: 00:17, 10 October, 2017
Drawing on a comparison with the Industrial Revolution, tech philosopher Dr Tom Chatfield explores the impact of technology on society, and the role businesses have to play in shaping a new world driven by artificial intelligence and big data.
“We shall soon be nothing but transparent heaps of jelly to each other,” complained a British writer alarmed by the ceaseless self-exposure of a new media age. The date, 1897: the tail end of a century that saw the astonishing power of fire and steam augmented by the taming of electricity.
How would the fabric of society cope with such novelties as the wireless telegraph and telephone, let alone electric lights and the moving image? What wonders lay ahead for a transformation in communications technology to match the industrial revolution?
The answer lay beyond the wildest prophecies: mass media moving from radio to television to interactive screens, with devices numbered in their hundreds of thousands, then millions, then billions; machines able not only to undertake physical but mental labour, encroaching upon areas thought to be uniquely human – from language and speech to healthcare and artistic composition. Twelve decades on from that late Victorian complaint, we are as exalted and agonized as ever about the impact of innovation upon lives and minds.
The first industrial revolution saw the birth not only of world-changing machines, but also of a passionate debate around what societies in this new world should look like. Decades of political strife gradually saw the regulation of labour markets, the enshrinement of mass education and enfranchisement, the birth of universal suffrage and healthcare.
In the face of their own transformation by engines of mass production, societies asked what safe, secure and meaningful employment looked like in this new world – and what it meant for people to live worthwhile lives amid sweeping global and demographic transitions. The world of the 1950s would have been unrecognizable to the 1850s not only in terms of its tools, but also in the working conditions, prosperity and expectations of the average worker.
It’s worth dwelling on these points because, from the vantage of our second machine age, it is easy to forget that we have already lived through several centuries of unbroken technological disruption – and that this disruption is best characterized not only in terms of technology bringing change, but also in terms of societies reassessing what they value and how it should be served.
A society that sees human workers simply as costs waiting to be cut has not inferred this lesson inexorably from machines, but rather foisted this assumption upon them.
We may live in an age of swelling anxiety around Artificial Intelligence, yet the greater cause for alarm – or hope – should be the values and intentions of those building AIs, together with the aims machine intelligence will relentlessly pursues on their behalf.
The mobile phone is the most emblematic invention of our digital age, not only because it represents a revolution in itself, but because it is the place where many other revolutions meet: the internet and ubiquitous networks; GPS and sensors able to relay rich location-specific information in real time; powerful cloud services able to serve customized content instantly; the massed observation and interconnection of billions of humans and trillions of data points.
One of the immediate consequences of this is that, across the world, hundreds of millions of people now have direct access to the kind of services and tools that only a minority once used: payment and banking; trading and investment; verified personal identification. Globally, it’s easy to forget that these have until the last decade been a minority pursuit.
Today, to pick just two examples, the M-Pesa mobile money system handles over 600 million monthly transactions in Africa; while the Chinese mobile money service Alipay has over 270 million active mobile users (and over 400 million registered accounts).
On a still larger scale, ninety-nine percent of adult Indian citizen – over 1.1 billion people – have been signed up for its new digital identity system, with a twelve-digit identifying number serving as their access to everything from tax and voting to travel and marriage. The potential for inclusion, efficiency and emancipation is immense – as is the potential for surveillance, control and abuse.
As the Indian example suggests, we are busy translating the fabric of our societies into something machine-readable: into data on a scale that only machines can handle, and that in turn will fuel the next generation of machine learning. Two things matter above all, here: the quality of our translation, and its capacity for iteration and improvement.
The exponentially increasing volumes of data handled by our tools can, when used well, feed the actionable small data and intuitive insights that human lives thrive upon – but they can also create a locked-down world in which decisions occur beyond our scrutiny. This is the difference between tools that can make integrated health records available anywhere, at the touch of a button, and tools that deny someone insurance based on an inscrutable algorithmic reading of their life.
In other words, private and public sector organizations more than ever have a role in deciding how AI and such technologies impact on society. They have a corporate responsibility to translate the potential of technology into social and moral good: an issue that technology company InterSystems will be exploring with businesses at this year’s Technology Summit, at which I will be a speaker.
Ours is an age unprecedented in both its anxieties and hopes, above all because they touch so closely upon all of us, in our human billions. Yet I am also more excited than ever to see what kind of future we can build – and what we may become within it.
Why you need a file system storage architecture, and what to look for
By Guest Contributor Published: 08:11, 27 September, 2017 Updated: 08:11, 27 September, 2017
by Stefan Bernbo, founder and CEO, Compuverde
Organizations are looking for ways to scale to meet exponentially increasing data storage needs. The digital transformation of both business and society have pushed traditional storage architectures past their limits.
Even if organizations had the budget to keep scaling linearly, it would take too long to meet current needs. Companies need solutions that won’t break the bank or take a long time to implement.
Vertical storage architecture contains bottlenecks that slow performance to an unacceptable level – even with the addition of multiple servers.
However, because software-defined storage (SDS) separates the programming that controls storage-related tasks from the physical storage hardware, it significantly reduces costs associated with hardware.
In this scenario, fewer, less-expensive servers can be used to improve both capacity and performance. Administration is simplified and made more flexible and efficient. SDS enables users to allocate and share storage assets across all workloads. For this reason, the industry has embraced SDS.
Gartner recently reported that by 2020, anywhere from 70 to 80 percent of unstructured data will be stored and managed on lower-cost hardware supported by software-defined storage.
What’s in a File System?
While it is widely understood that unstructured data is best managed with a file system, for some reason, many SDS offerings focus solely on block or object store. Few offerings focus on file systems or do them well. Without a file system overlaying this data, it becomes very difficult to manage the data.
Here’s a quick review of the purpose of the three kinds of storage:
- Block: Considered the foundation of storage, block is used for storing virtual machines or databases, However, you need files as well to deal with all the unstructured data.
- Object: This type of storage is used for machine-to-machine/IoT transactions and other applications that require extreme scalability. However, it isn’t much better than block when it comes to managing data.
- File systems: Though it gets less press, file storage is the best for handling unstructured data.
SDS providers are not ignorant of the need for file systems, so some claim to provide file system with their offerings. However, these file systems are usually based on Samba (see below) and fail to provide some of the features most Windows users are used to.
Because so many users find themselves in need of a file system after purchasing an SDS solution, they turn to open source software like Samba, which enables support for SMB and allows end users to access and use files on the company’s intranet or network. However, providing file services through Samba often means going without needed features.
File systems don’t stand on their own; they also need file-related features to deal with unstructured data. These features include:
- Retention, allowing you to automatically create a single folder or a hierarchy of folders on file servers, which can be deleted according to assigned policies.
- Snapshot, a read-only copy of the contents of a file system or independent file set taken at a single point in time. When a snapshot of an independent file set is taken, all files and nested dependent file sets will be included in the snapshot.
- Tiering uses a policy to let you to define where a specific file is to be placed and if and when the file will be migrated between file system pools. You can define both file placement and migration policies. By using a policy, you create a filter that designates a specific file type to a particular tier. Tiered storage is more efficient and boosts performance.
- Quota, to help keep track of the amount of storage being used. You can set a soft limit quota that will warn you when part of a file system is close to reaching its storage limit but still allow data to be saved. If you set up a hard limit quota, after the quota is reached, no new data can be saved.
Eighty percent of data is unstructured, and only file system storage can manage that data. It remains a conundrum of the industry that SDS vendors, fully aware of this fact, typically offer an anemic file system. Customers look elsewhere for help, but freeware file systems don’t provide all the needed features.
A comprehensive solution to meet today’s storage needs includes all three storage types, able to handle structured and unstructured data. Don’t just take the provider’s word for it when they say there’s a file system; take the time to check under the hood to ensure you’re getting a solution that will meet your storage demands.
A deafening cybersecurity wake-up call: What will it take to answer?
By Guest Contributor Published: Updated: 09:03, 2 October, 2017
Sara Baack, chief marketing officer at Equinix, talks how greater global Interconnection provides much-needed digital security guardrails.
Today, cybercrime has become way too commonplace and the aftermath is costing businesses a lot in both dollars and brand reputation.
A recent IBM Security and Ponemon Institute global study shows the average total cost of a data breach, which includes what an organization spends on the discovery of and the immediate response to one breach, is $3.62 million.
And then there is the high cost of gaining back customers’ trust, which is impossible to quantify.
Staring into the breach: The digital attack surface is “everywhere”
In today’s mobile, digital world, the reality is: the larger the attack surface, the more sophisticated and brazen the attackers and the greater the vulnerability.
Whether you’re a government, multinational company, or a small local business, a hacker’s goal for your company is the same: find your points of weakness and exploit them.
They look for gaps in everything from your legacy systems to your emerging IT, from your security and networking infrastructures to your software update policies.
Companies that centralize all their data and security controls in one place are among the most vulnerable, as hackers can do the most damage with a single strike.
Many companies rely on virtual private networks (VPNs) to carry sensitive company data traffic to and from centralized data centers, where their security controls reside. However, most legacy VPNs are ill-equipped to meet the needs of today’s digital business.
That’s because digital businesses as a practical matter are constantly exchanging data everywhere, from many insecure places and devices.
In the current digital environment, identifying and combating intrusions requires real-time, localized security data and analytics processing and more automated security control management than these latency-ridden, long-haul networks can deliver.
What’s required? One foundational pillar is direct and secure Interconnection – defined as the private data exchange between businesses. Interconnection ensures faster, private, low-latency data transfer between any and all parties to best protect critical digital assets.
Trust nothing and install Interconnection-powered security guardrails
Gartner estimates that by 2020, 60% of digital businesses will suffer major service failures, due to the inability of IT security teams to manage digital risk.
With so much on the line, many of our customers have found that the best defense against cyberattacks is to take a “trust nothing” cybersecurity approach.
Similar to an international airport, they are erecting security checkpoints in all the places where their data is being exchanged, whether that’s inside or outside of their organizations. And they are leveraging Interconnection to do it.
To deploy your own organizational guardrails, first you need to understand your requirements for interconnecting your people, clouds, locations, and data.
Start by assessing how your Interconnection needs will be affected by how your business is growing in size, geographic reach and distributed IT services usage. The “Global Interconnection Index,” a market study we recently published, can help.
Interconnection Bandwidth Adoption by Enterprises Based on Size, Geographical Presence and Use of Distributed IT Services
The study maps Interconnection Bandwidth, which is the total capacity provisioned to privately and directly exchange traffic with a diverse set of counterparties and providers at distributed IT exchange points.
With the right Interconnection Bandwidth capacity, your IT and security teams will be positioned to more efficiently and effectively provide local IT services checkpoints and automated security controls to distributed users, systems, applications, and data.
The Global Interconnection Index will give you the industry benchmarks you need to evaluate your security strategy from an attack surface perspective.
By deploying Interconnection in regions and metros that are closest to your users, applications, data, and security controls, you can help create the necessary safeguards to mitigate cybersecurity risk.
Scaling vigilance and resilience through cloud security services
With more and more globally distributed users, devices and data traveling in and out of their security boundaries, enterprises are finding it harder and harder to quickly deploy critical security controls such as automatic system, application, and security software updates, and real-time security data processing and analytics.
That’s why more and more digital businesses are leveraging regional/local cloud security services to protect their critical digital assets and quickly identify and respond to security intrusions, no matter where they happen.
For example, many of our EMEA customers are making use of cloud security services, such as Deloitte’s global Risk Intelligence Centers, based in The Netherlands.
Deloitte’s Security-as-a-Service solution is supported by our global colocation and interconnection data centers and the Equinix Cloud Exchange.
These cloud-based risk and cybersecurity services enable enterprises worldwide to be more secure, vigilant, and resilient, first by determining how to avoid attacks via preventative controls and security management services, and then by working with IT and security organizations to continuously monitor their networks in real-time.
Also, by using predictive analytics against baselines, trends, and history, they can respond to potential cyberattacks faster and with greater precision.
Deploying direct and secure Interconnection at distributed data intersection and security control points around the globe will help provide your company with the security guardrails you need to keep intruders out.
For proven insights to get started, see how our customers are reducing risk using an Interconnection-first Security Blueprint.
Also, check out the full Global Interconnection Index to learn more about how you can tap into Interconnection growth to power your digital businesses to greater success.