Leading customers towards sustainable digital transformation

Leading customers towards sustainable digital transformation

Equinix® experts delve into sustainability as a topic governed by digital transformation and data centre efficiency, to reduce emissions and meet targets

The world is on the verge of a recession with staggering levels of inflation, increasing energy prices, a climate crisis, and unprecedented disruption. Digital Transformation underpinned by a modern, agile, flexible, secure, and resilient foundational architecture, is imperative for survival, but it is not enough.

Now, there is a legal, as well as a moral, obligation to reduce EU emissions by at least 55% by 2030. The Equinix 2022 Global Tech Trends Survey showed that over 70% of IT leaders said that reducing environmental impact is a critical driver of their technology strategy and 65% of digital leaders expressed that they will only work with partners that meet their carbon reduction targets.

Organisations are meeting this obligation head on with ambitious corporate sustainability goals in place alongside their digital transformation and infrastructure modernisation programmes. With only one IT refresh cycle left until 2030, the decisions made in 2023 will have a huge impact on the ability to achieve sustainable competitive advantage. Yet, the backdrop faced by the digital leaders has never been more complex.

Supply chain issues, chip shortages, technical debt, legacy infrastructure, changing stakeholder requirements, and rigid infrastructure all create financial, operational and energy inefficiencies which threaten to overwhelm digital transformation and the infrastructure modernisation required to achieve it. Equinix enables organisations to modernise their networks, move appropriate business applications and workloads to the cloud, minimise cloud egress costs, virtualise their digital footprint and house remaining legacy infrastructure within Platform Equinix®.

Organisations have the flexibility to run the workloads wherever it makes the most sense; on premises, at the edge or in multiple cloud locations around the world, whilst also ensuring security and data sovereignty requirements are met. This composable infrastructure allows organisations the flexibility to address the operational and power inefficiencies whilst reducing cost which allows them to accelerate their digital transformation and achieve sustainability goals.

Platform Equinix – Where Sustainable Digital Transformation happens

To understand how to facilitate a sustainable transformation, we turn to the experts at Equinix to uncover the steps along the journey. Grace Andrews, Principal Product Evangelist at Equinix, delves into the organisation’s mission and how it approaches digital transformation. “Equinix is the world’s digital infrastructure company. Platform Equinix provides the foundational infrastructure—data centres, interconnection, and digital infrastructure services—that power the digital economy. “We’ve transformed Equinix from a colocation provider to a digital infrastructure platform, which supports the digital transformation of our customers. “During the pandemic, we saw unprecedented demand for digital services. Platform Equinix, with vibrant digital ecosystems and foundational infrastructure enabled via software, meets the needs of customers who now operate in a highly virtualized world. “The coronavirus pandemic fundamentally, and in some cases permanently, changed the way we work, the way we educate our children, the way we interact with family, the way we shop and entertain ourselves… Enabling this digital transformation is what we do.

How can organisations integrate their digital and sustainability strategy into a coherent roadmap?

Platform & Product Marketing Director, Direnc Dogruoz tells us: “Organisations must start with optimising the core of their network; relying on shared, on-demand services and platforms powered by renewable energy. From that network hub, they can start virtualizing infrastructure and interconnecting to public and private clouds adjacent to mission-critical data in a way that is designed to be inherently more sustainable, secure, cost-effective and agile. “Organisations can deploy with Equinix physically—in our core network hubs—to consume energy more efficiently. Our hubs in the EMEA region are covered by 100% renewable energy, supported by our state-of-the-art efficiency measures, such as software-optimised systems and industry-leading power usage effectiveness (PUE), water management, waste heat recovery, liquid cooling and alternative fuel sources. By moving infrastructure into an Equinix facility, customers transfer the scope 1 emissions related to owning and operating their own facilities. For more information on all of this please visit our sustainability website Green IT - Equinix Sustainability.

Mark Anderson,VP, Global Technical Sales at Equinix explains, “This shared network architecture helps to address the most significant conundrum in sustainable digital transformation: increasing the use of IT resources for compute and storage drives up power consumption and other digital emissions. Breaking the connection between increased use of IT resources and energy consumption is crucial.” “The idea behind the Platform Equinix shared usage, shared ownership model is to build more efficient infrastructures. Organisations running their own data centres, cannot get the size, scale, and skills they need to get the efficiencies that Equinix can.” Direnc adds: “Deploying with Equinix is the first step in an organisation’s sustainable digital transformation journey and results in a considerable reduction in carbon emissions compared to a traditional on-prem enterprise infrastructure. Sr. Manager, Global Sustainability Engagement, Patricia Stamos, adds: “By moving IT infrastructure to Platform Equinix, organisations also move their scope 1 and 2 emissions to scope 3 emissions—which means handing over the responsibility of greening their supply chain, keeping up with supply-side regulations, and the cost of investing in new sustainability-focused technologies and maintenance to Equinix. “Organisations who deploy on Platform Equinix receive custom Green Power Reports (GPRs), based on third-party verified metrics, to attest to the carbon emissions associated with their data center operation deployments at Equinix for transparency.” Direnc picks up: “Once an organisation deploys in Equinix’s core network hubs, they can virtually interconnect with more than 10,000 network service providers, clouds, partners, security services, customers, and suppliers over shared resources on demand via software-based portals and platforms in real time, in more than 60 global markets.” “Organisations can then switch from their previous methods of connecting cloud services, via their network service provider through either private multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) or the public internet, to using Equinix Fabric®—our dedicated, virtual interconnection tool.”

This virtual interconnection on demand can improve efficiencies for organisations further compared to a traditional on-prem enterprise infrastructure relying on legacy IT and networking. The final level of sustainable digital transformation maturity is when organisations take advantage of the full suite of digital services available on Platform Equinix to deploy their entire infrastructure as-a-service. This means that organisations eliminate infrastructure ownership, capex spend, and emissions related to IT whilst increasing agility through provisioning infrastructure on demand. With multiple global brands, offices and production facilities spread across five continents, the Hero Group needed to evolve from a traditional IT model to a more agile, reliable and cost-effective digital-first operation.

The company partnered with Equinix based on its strong focus on sustainability, and expertise in delivering a secure, reliable and interconnected digital infrastructure platform. "Hero has set specific sustainability targets to become a net neutral business. Our automated digital-first model allows us to be more agile and to create and deliver healthier foods. With Platform Equinix we have a solid foundation for standardising our IT globally with greater predictability and sustainability." Bas Dijikhuizen, Head of Competence Center Infrastructure, Hero Group.

How Digital Services Enable Sustainable Digital Transformation

Digital services on Platform Equinix allow organisations to virtualise physical infrastructure according to their business needs, enabling a more sustainable overall outcome. By deploying digitally on an ‘as-a-service’, on-demand platform, organisations can use what they need, when they need it; they can turn their services on and off as they see fit. “For example, Equinix Fabric can be used for software networking, data exchange and service exchange—all digitally rather than having to implement physical connections,” says Mark. “Then we have Network Edge - virtual networking devices that dictate how we exchange that data securely at the edge. Equinix Metal®, is a private bare-metal-as-a-service solution, which is how organisations can deploy, store, and keep their data as a service in a private, cloud-like environment. “The challenge for organisations right now is that they have data on public cloud, private cloud, and on their own servers and storage devices. Platform Equinix puts all this in a hybrid integrated environment, with the public clouds, for organisations to create a secure, optimised, virtualized sustainable infrastructure solution to underpin their digital transformation...” Schneider Electric started its sustainable digital transformation with Platform Equinix. Schneider Electric has started using new models of “Platform-as-a-Service” and “Bare-Metal-as-a-Service”, which are covered with renewable energy from Equinix, enabling the next evolution of its IT infrastructure. These services are helping Schneider simultaneously improve performance and industrial automation, by improving operations and energy management. Additionally, at a time of unprecedented supply chain disruptions and constraints, virtual infrastructure built on Equinix’s digital services helped Schneider Electric to mitigate the delays on energy efficiency implementations. "It always starts with a purpose: what is a company trying to achieve in terms of their digital transformation? For us, it was very simple. It was about making IT infrastructure modern because of the legacy footprint that we have. That organically translated into reduction of the footprint, thus reducing the carbon footprint." Xach Nimboorkar, Senior Vice President of Global IT Infrastructure and Operations at Schneider Electric. Grace puts emphasis on mindful digital transformation and why digital services from Equinix are required alongside the public cloud. “Cloud is only one piece of the puzzle. We have to remember that the cloud has a physical home and underlying physical resources,” says Grace. “So, this idea of sustainable digital transformation is also an idea of efficiency within the way we design systems.

With the tools and components that make up digital services from Equinix, we are maximising the physical infrastructure that already exists in a way that allows us to build systems differently—to build systems that are sustainable, OPEX-driven, and flexible.” Let’s look at workloads as an example: “Organisations have workloads and often they would have the same workload sitting in four or five different geographic locations in case of a ransomware attack, power outage or other disaster. Another example might be an e-commerce website which needs to be able to handle many loads because of an upcoming holiday sale. Traditionally, these organisations had to buy more physical infrastructure to architect the infrastructure for the worst-case scenario in the case of disaster recovery or maximum utilisation in the case of the e-commerce provider even though that infrastructure would be redundant 99% of the time. This redundancy is hugely inefficient, expensive and CO2 emissions heavy. “This is where Equinix brings a unique value to organisations on their sustainable digital transformation journey. We help them identify what they need, when they need it, and make it available to them on demand, as-a-service, eliminating the costs and emissions related to owning and operating primary and redundant hardware. “We're bringing organisations the components they already use, whether it's networking providers, such as Cisco, Juniper and Nutanix, storage providers like Dell, HPE or Pure Storage, or security providers like Fortinet and F5. We're bringing all of those components together; optimised inside of this virtual world. Sustainable digital transformation starts with modernising and virtualizing physical infrastructure, and Platform Equinix is the foundation from which to begin.”