This article originally appeared in the Q1 -2013 edition of Cloud Computing Magazine.
As cloud computing continues to evolve, there have been a number of predictions about the impact “the cloud” will have on the colocation business. With more customers increasingly interested in either providing cloud services or consuming cloud services on some level, Cologix, a network-neutral colocation and interconnection provider, is indeed enabling the growth of cloud.
In fact, over the past year, the Denver-based company has added or grown its relationship with more than 15 cloud service providers, which have selected Cologix due to its reliable environment, dense carrier neutral connectivity and position that it not compete with them for direct cloud service customers.
In a recent interview with Cologix Chief Operating Officer Todd Coleman, he explained how the colocation industry is growing as a result of cloud, and how Cologix in turn is helping its customers to implement scalable public or private cloud environments according to their business model or cloud focus.
“We are seeing significant growth in the space as a result of cloud. Cologix is enabling the cloud whether it’s public or private,” explained Coleman. “Depending on how you define cloud-based services, there are two commonalities: Servers need to physically sit somewhere and there are big pipes required to connect them. What is sometimes forgotten is that those connections are physical too and sit in a data center somewhere. Connect carriers that sit across our platforms are seeing growth in both public and private cloud, and redundancy is needed for both models. Especially on the public level, many there are larger data centers. Ultimately, even in those architectures there are distribution nodes which are connectivity driven. Our participation in the public cloud is really around the distribution – and we are finding those nodes moving closer to where the eyeballs and end users are.”
As for private cloud, Coleman says there are a number of providers that offer private cloud services on a dedicated model. Like the public cloud space where Cologix remains neutral to allow its customers to provides services to end customers without competition, Cologix is neutral to private cloud technology partners, instead partnering with best in breed providers to pre-certify their facilities for those types of applications. As an example, this past fall, Cologix announced a partnership with Appcore, which provides an automated cloud-computing platform. The collaboration between the two companies is aimed at enabling customers to deploy Appcore Onsite within Cologix’s 11 data centers across North America.
“Typically they have fewer distribution nodes and they are deploying their own services, but latency and network risk are especially important elements for them to consider,” he explains.
Coleman also said Cologix is seeing growth in Tier 2 markets, with some of the company’s colocation sites seeing disproportionate demand.
“From our perspective, naturally the Tier 1 markets are going to get their fair share of growth. On the Tier 2 side, for us, we still believe that cloud architectures will over time look like content delivery networks, and as a result we are seeing growth in distribution nodes of Tier 2 markets like Minneapolis, Montreal and Toronto, to name a few.”
Cologix currently services over 550 customers across nearly every industry, ranging from carrier to managed services, media, content, financial services and enterprise businesses.
“We focus on customers and applications that are sensitive to network or carrier dense environments. We have a significant number of carriers across the telecom verticals as well as a number of cloud-based public and private cloud providers, MSPs, media content providers, financial segment, healthcare, sophisticated enterprises that recognize need to have diverse networks and drive costs on networking side,” Coleman explains.
As a colocation provider, Cologix focuses on being neutral as to avoid channel conflicts.
“What we do is provide enabling building blocks, and knowing that there is not going to be channel conflict allows our customers to be very comfortable. This is very different than our largest competitors,” says Coleman. “We provide the building blocks through partnerships or the services providers in our facilities. This allows us to create ecosystems in which we can enable all types of those providers and or customers.”
Cloud providers as well as cloud services consumers benefit from presence at interconnection points versus mega-sites in cornfields or next to hydro-electric dams, adds Coleman.
“The mega sites – they all play a role, particularly in the public cloud. They are going to put their compute power somewhere. It doesn’t necessarily all fit in a carrier hotel,” he says. “But more than that – ultimately what’s core to the cloud based business is latency and optimizing network costs. From our perspective, the latency sensitive portion of the architecture is naturally positioned for a carrier hotel. Cloud-based providers or their customers find their way into the same data centers. Those service resources, storage resources don’t have to sit in the facility but the exchange at the distribution level has found its way into a carrier hotel.”
Looking ahead, Coleman believes the demand for cloud will continue, but the number of cloud providers will level off and only the strong will survive.
“We get more and more inquiries from our customers asking how they should think about the cloud within their objectives, and there are a lot of small providers out there. The real question is, are they all going to survive? The question is also, what level of consolidation will take place and not just about the resources they are putting out there. Consumers with a desire to have cloud-based resources is going to continue to grow. The question is at the SMB size will there be consolidation?”
In addition, Coleman predicts the current trend of network users recognizing the flexibility and cost-saving benefits from broad provider choice will continue.
“We are uniquely positioned given our value proposition given that we are an enabler of 330 customers,” he says. “If you can bring those two together in a facility in a way that’s going to benefit those businesses, we are going to continue to see that growth for some time to come.”
Edited by Brooke Neuman