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Increased demand from enterprises to close digital gaps at the edge

Digital service providers are forecast to increase private connectivity by five times the current rates between 2019 and 2023, according to new research from Equinix. 

The research shows the increase is driven by greater demands from enterprise to close digital gaps at the edge.

The latest Global Interconnection Index (GXI), an annual market study published by Equinix, shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has already had a dramatic effect on how businesses are planning their digital infrastructure initiatives over the next three years. 

According to the report, digital service providers, within industries like telecommunications, cloud & IT services, content & digital media and technology providers, are forecast to increase private connectivity bandwidth 5x by 2023, driven by greater demands from enterprises to close digital gaps at the edge.

As interconnected services, cloud providers, distributed cloud, edge services and SaaS offerings continue to proliferate, the rationale to stay only in a traditional data centre topology will have limited advantages. 

This is not an overnight shift, but an evolutionary change in thinking how we deliver services to our customers and to the business. This trend, coupled with the new reality that outside factors might limit physical access to the data centre (such as emergency quarantine), is driving new thinking in infrastructure planning.

The report also forecasts that overall interconnection bandwidth, the measure of private connectivity for the transfer of data between organisations, will achieve a 47% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2019 to 2023. Cloud & IT Services are to lead the growth in this region, reaching an anticipated 1,374 Tbps by 2023, which is 29% more than the next largest region, North America, in this sector. 

It forecasts healthcare & life sciences and government & education to see an acceleration in interconnection bandwidth adoption as both industries prioritise digital initiatives such as telehealth and AI. The leading metros for private connectivity within the region are expected to be Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong. 

"Digital leaders have to prepare for post-pandemic recovery by planning and implementing the right digital transformation initiatives now," says Claire Macland, senior vice president of marketing, Equinix. 

"We believe those that have a foundational infrastructure which helps bring together all the right places, partners and possibilities will gain a business advantage over the long term."

Vertical/Industry Insights: 

Digital adoption patterns are changing in response to massive disruptions 
o    According to the GXI Vol. 4, the digital adoption pattern has altered, with service providers in Asia-Pacific now forecast to provision more interconnection bandwidth (2,943 Terabits per second (Tbps) by 2023) than enterprises, by a factor of nearly 2x.

o    However, much of this service provider demand is anticipated to be in support of enterprises that are prioritising their digital transformation in preparation for post-pandemic recovery. 

o    The report also predicts that enterprises with a digital infrastructure will extend their competitive advantage and continue to lead in business growth, while those without have struggled and are dependent on service providers to transform their business models.  

Traditional businesses are moving workloads to an edge-first architecture
o    The GXI Vol. 4 predicts that traditional business, within industries like banking & insurance, securities & trading, manufacturing and business & professional services, will represent more than 25% of global interconnection bandwidth in Asia-Pacific by 2023. This is led by the growing need to move workloads to the digital edge while scaling core IT infrastructure. By 2023, these traditional businesses are expected to reach a peak interconnection bandwidth growth rate of over 50% annually. 

o    Healthcare & life sciences and government & education are expected to lead the traditional enterprises in their interconnection growth rate as public and private initiatives in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are forecasted to drive a combined 50% CAGR in interconnection bandwidth from 2019 to 2023 in the region.

Organisations are benefiting from the network effect
o    Organisations are maximising their digital advantage by building a presence in locations with the most users, largest number of providers and the densest activities, known as the network effect. According to IDC, 80% of digital leaders will see the impact of connecting to multiple ecosystems, including improving their value to end customers by 2025.[2]

o    The need for application exchange in digital ecosystems to support real-time engagement is essential and creates a network effect for businesses. The GXI Vol.4 predicts that connectivity from service providers to networks and cloud & IT service providers will be the two main sources of ecosystem interconnection, with an estimated 52% combined CAGR from 2019 to 2023.

Regional Insights: 

The GXI provides insight into how growth in interconnection bandwidth is expected to accelerate in different regions of the world between 2019 and 2023:

Global interconnection bandwidth is forecast to grow by 45% CAGR. By 2023, global installed interconnection bandwidth is expected to reach 16,300+ Tbps. 

The expected growth is driven by digital transformation, and specifically by greater demands from enterprises extending their digital infrastructure from centralised locations to distributed edge locations. 

This comes as businesses scale and support real-time interactions by strategically interconnecting workflows closer to and across people, things, locations, cloud and data. The capacity of this connectivity is equivalent to 64 zettabytes of data exchange, which is enough bandwidth for every human on the planet (7.8 billion) to transmit their full DNA sequence in an hour.

Asia-Pacific is expected to grow at a 47% CAGR. Cloud & IT Services are to lead the growth in this region, reaching an anticipated 1,374 Tbps by 2023, which is 29% more than the next largest region, North America, in this sector. The GXI Vol.4 anticipates healthcare & life sciences and government & education to see an acceleration in interconnection bandwidth adoption as both industries prioritize digital initiatives such as telehealth and AI. The leading metros for private connectivity within the region are expected to be Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

North America is expected to grow at a 43% CAGR, with service providers leading the growth, showing over a 4x increase in interconnection bandwidth. The top metros for private connectivity growth in the region are forecasted to be Silicon Valley, Washington D.C., Chicago and New York. 

Europe is forecast to grow at a 45% CAGR, where telecommunications and cloud & IT providers are to contribute to 55% of the total interconnection bandwidth growth, outpacing other industries in the region. Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris and London are predicted to be the top metros for interconnection bandwidth growth. 

Latin America is predicted to grow at a 50% CAGR. Content and digital media is expected to grow at a 5-year CAGR of 62% between 2019 and 2023, making it the highest growth rate of any sector in any region. Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are expected to be the top metros in this region for interconnection bandwidth growth.