Bye-bye public internet, hello interconnection

Interconnection bandwidth is expected to outpace internet traffic by 6X in 2020Enterprises are expected to rewire their network typology to increasingly turn away from public internet and towards private interconnection, according to Gartner Research Vice President and Agenda Manager Bob Gill.

Commenting on the Global Interconnection Index (GII) released by Equinix last month, Gill told Computerworld Hong Kong that enterprises could cut their network costs by half with 50% improvement in performance through rewiring their network typology to include interconnection.

“There are a number of cases and I’ve worked with clients that saved multi-million dollars a year, but also get improved performance,” said Gill. “There is absolutely a trend of diverting traffic away from public internet to interconnection.”

In fact, Hong Kong enterprises are also following this global trend to turn towards interconnection. Equinix’s GII indicated Hong Kong leads the region in the growth of interconnection traffic. The index indicated Hong Kong is expected to have the highest growth of interconnection traffic in the region, with a CAGR of 51% between 2016 and 2020. This is higher than the regional average of 46%, Singapore (43%), Sydney (44%) and Tokyo (45%).

“Digital is transforming all industries and becoming the growth engine,” said Alex Tam, managing director, Equinix Hong Kong. “With companies in Hong Kong rapidly embracing the multiple opportunities offered by the digital economy, the demand for interconnection continues to rise.”

2X growth and 6X volume of public internet

Tam added that the GII predicted global interconnection bandwidth will outpace public internet’s traffic by almost two times in growth and six times in volume by 2020. He said in three years, the global interconnection traffic will reach 5,000Tbps with a CAGR of 45%, as compared to public internet, which is expected to reach 855Tbps with 24% CAGR.

This growth could sound too good to be true, but Gill said it is a typology redesign. He added that Equinix’s index conservatively measures only interconnection within carrier-neutral data centers, excluding those at data centers operated and owned by network operators.

According to Gill, enterprises and network service providers have been by-passing the public internet to develop private interconnection for decades. The concept is similar to meet-me room (MMR), where telecommunication companies and enterprises physically connect to one another for data exchange.

“The basic concept of interconnection is: I have an asset, be it computer, storage or network, I want to connect that with some other enterprises or service providers’ asset, like a cloud provider—that is interconnection,” he said. “We’ve been doing that for decades, but we’ve been doing it through fiber optics [cables] or copper cross.”

He noted that these media are not very fast and are often delayed. Thus, increasingly these interconnections are achieved through switch fabric. It provides high speed network-to-network connection, allowing multi-gigabyte of data transfer from one port to another at a faster and reliable pace.

If the network typology also takes advantage of the dark fiber network to connect between different data centers, Gill said enterprises could significantly bypass the public internet for their network activities.

Reasons to interconnect

On top of technology development, another reason driving this tremendous growth of interconnection is the changing business landscape.

The rising maturity of cloud computing means enterprises are subscribing to multiple cloud services from different cloud providers. This is driving their demand for reliable connectivity with multiple parties.