Equinix bids for more of your multi-cloud network with homebrew hosted router

VMs are slow. And who can arrange remote hands wherever your traffic needs to flow?

Equinix has unveiled a cloudy router it hopes will displace competitors in large, multi-cloud networks.

The datacenter and adjacent services giant has long offered its “Cloud Fabric” – a software-defined network linking 59 metro areas and over 215 individual datacenters. Traffic that traverses the fabric doesn’t travel over the public internet, instead staying on a groomed network that connects directly to Equinix bit barns. And as those facilities often host the infrastructure that comprises Big Tech’s Clouds, Equinix reckons it offers superior connections between the stuff you put in its racks and hyperscalers’ kit.

One wrinkle in that plan is that Equinix didn’t do native routing. Users of the Fabric therefore found themselves either running actual routers in Equinix racks or running VMs to handle routing chores.

Arun Dev, Equinix veep and global head of digital interconnection, pointed out to The Register that physical routers may sometimes need hands-on maintenance, then questioned the convenience and cost of arranging remote hands to do that work for users who use many datacenters around the world. He also feels that Equinix customers aren’t happy about the price of building and maintaining suitably resilient routing rigs around the world.

A cloudy VM dedicated to routing is an obvious alternative, as hyperscalers in theory guarantee hardware resilience. Dev argued that routers in virtual machines have unhelpfully limited bandwidth.

Enter the Equinix Fabric Cloud Router, a Layer 3 offering that can speed traffic across the Equinix Fabric at 50Gbps.

Dev told The Register the service is designed for infrastructure-as-code, and that around 30 percent of beta users created networks using Terraform.

“One of my customers said I do not want to talk to you,” Dev said, explaining the seeming diffidence reflected a desire for a hands-off automated experience.

The Router’s debut reflects Equinix’s desire to build a more feature-rich network between its datacenters, in the expectation that customers want to build a cloud-native network that’s largely free of multi-vendor complexity. That traffic passing between clouds over the Equinix Fabric isn’t subject to egress charges from hyperscalers helps that argument.

Dev would not offer any technical details about the Cloud Router but said it’s all Equinix’s work and not based on open-source code. We also asked about the hardware it runs on. Dev responded by saying Equinix will soon publish a blog post about its “vendor plus white box” approach to cloud infrastructure. We’ll be on it like a rash when it lands. ®

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