We sat down with Brenden Rawle, Director of Interconnection - EMEA at Equinix ahead of our DCD>Building the Edge Virtual session Panel: Will the COVID-19 pandemic precipitate a rapid expansion of edge?’. We wanted to hear some initial thoughts from Brenden on the state of the industry and how he and his team are handling the global pandemic.

Brenden is an experienced member of the industry. Working with Equinix for the past five years, he has been involved with large network providers and network architecture projects. He and his team are responsible for driving interconnection revenue for Equinix, deploying interconnection strategies across a number of locations in EMEA. The interconnection team works and develops solutions with the product and sales teams.

Make sure you tune into our session with Brenden on 27 May 2020, from 3pm - 4pm BST.

Impacts of a global pandemic

Rawle talked about the increased demand for interconnection services. , Equinix is seeing a year on year seven percent growth in the area, which is one of many consecutive years of growth. Equinix has seen demand increase across the board, with emphasis put on specific types of services like content providers. This demand is for additional bandwidth, not just for work related services but also for entertainment and leisure services such as video streaming and gaming.

Operationally, there has been some challenge - the focus has been on protecting Equinix’s people, which has required a restriction of access to critical infrastructure to ensure that the safety of people is kept at the highest degree of importance. As the custodians of the digital economy, ensuring a continuance of smooth and stable operations is paramount.

Handling a challenge

Equinix has supported a positive culture, helping people adjust to the changing circumstances. In many areas there has been a year or two of digital transformation in just several months. The access that Equinix provides to its customers has put them in a good position in handling the transformation processes.

Lots of customers have been accelerating their plans and rolling out more bandwidth and other services. The team at Equinix has been agile enough to respond appropriately to the increasing demands while maintaining safe and efficient operational protocols.

Impacts on the Edge

In many ways edge computing has been aligned to the rollout of 5G. Equinix has been paying close attention to this rollout process and been analyzing the best way to get into that space. Equinix’s approach has been to analyze the market and look at the opportunities that it can provide to customers.

The edge is a longer play, and specifically tied to capital infrastructure projects. There have been no immediate changes in programs but the current trends are pushing some of these changes forward. Content and traffic is changing, and the demand is no longer just coming from major hubs anymore. This has put a sharper focus on putting services out nearer to areas of consumption.

Decentralizing the demand

Rawle believes that the edge won’t impact major metro areas like London, New York, Singapore etc. There has been a major shift (particularly in EMEA) to secondary metros like Manchester and Munich. The thinking has shifted to geographical resilience, and serving all content out of one major metropolitan location does not make sense with the diversified demand that has been seen across the globe.

To Rawle and his team, it is about getting the necessary capacity in the right places. This may mean an emergence of smaller digital hubs across other metropolitan areas in countries like the United Kingdom.

Planning a resilient rollout

There are many schools of thought on the rollout of the edge across the globe, but there are some key questions Equinix is asking: how will it be financed? What is the return on investment? What is the compelling event to move content to smaller hubs? One key aspect that is driving content out of major hubs like London has been the shift to working from home. The digital economy and data center environments also play a major role in the rollout of edge.

A problem shared is a problem halved

Rawle and his team have been working on some important projects ahead of the edge rollout. If they decide to enter the market, how would they do it? What would the strategy be from providers and hyperscalers alike?

Balancing a number of unknowns is tricky, but knowing that there will definitely be uptake means it is a matter of how and when, not if. Building and sustaining an ecosystem based on much smaller builds is a problem that needs solving.

A roadmap for the future

Rawle and his team will focus on building expert teams and networks across the market. The focus is on listening to customers and paying attention to what's happening in the market. It is about ensuring that Equinix is always ahead of the curve. Equinix has been at the forefront of a lot of changes and transformations in the industry, and hopes this will continue.

Giving customers the right solutions will ensure Equinix stays in the right place with the right focus. The rollout of edge computing will most likely be a part of this mix in the future.

Learnings from the past

One of the most important learnings is to ensure contingency plans are very well tested and most importantly, that they are stuck to when needed. What has positioned Equinix as a leader is highly reliable data center and interconnection services that support governments and major corporations across the world. The evolution of services and pulling in new products and offerings to clients demonstrates growth and forward thinking.

A preview of the panel discussion

Rawle is excited to share and hear about use cases across the industry and how edge is being impacted by Covid-19. The edge is moving at different speeds across EMEA, and the view of operators will become increasingly important.

Make sure you tune into the live panel session to hear Brenden Rawle and our other panelists talk about one of the most pressing issues facing the industry currently.