Digital Realty and Zayo creating "fabric of fabrics"

27 July 2021 | Melanie Mingas

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Digital Realty and Zayo Group have partnered to create the physical and virtual foundations of a new open fabric.

The development is another milestone in Digital Realty's strategy for interconnection and next-gen colo solutions, published in a manifesto earlier this year. It will see the data centre and interconnection giant tap into Zayo's infrastructure – which comprises more than 13 million fibre miles across 400 markets worldwide – and extensive metro connectivity to thousands of buildings and data centres. 

The overall aim is to build "the largest open fabric-of-fabrics" interconnecting key centres of data exchange. Digital Realty is also leveraging the capabilities it brought in-house when it acquired Pureport's engineering team and IP in March, by developing new native SDN-enabled capabilities that will allow the integration of multiple digital platforms.

CTO Chris Sharp (pictured) said: “Our platform capabilities and the steps we are taking in collaboration with Zayo will serve as a force-multiplier in building the industry’s largest open fabric-of-fabrics to effectively address the growing intensity of enterprise data creation and its gravitational impact on IT architectures.” 

Brian Lillie, chief product and technology officer at Zayo added: “As businesses continue to shift globally towards hybrid IT to control costs, enable new digital workplace models and create new lines of business, Zayo and Digital Realty are in an excellent position to enable customers’ growth through a shared interest in globally secure, software-defined interconnection.

“We look forward to working together to power next-generation interconnection and security capabilities that will unlock the true potential of digital transformation,” Lillie continued.  

As for Digital Realty's next move, Sharp says that HPC is on the cards.

"Zayo is partner one and we're really going to leverage the connectivity elements of that. Then you'll see us absolutely go into HPC vendors and starting to align with some of the high-performance compute," he told Data Economy.  

As previously disclosed, AI will also feature. Sharp continued: "That's another one where once you get the data, if you're not doing analytics against it, you're missing it. AI and aligning tighter with how a some of those AI and machine learning networks get built, the software that we have will allow our customers to have visibility to that and just tie everything together. That's why you'll see partnerships continuing to evolve."

Digital Realty’s Data Gravity Index DGx projects that Forbes global 2000 enterprises will be adding storage at combined rate of more than 620 terabytes per second for data aggregation and exchange across 53 metros by 2024.  It reflects a growing trend among global customers towards deploying and connecting large, private data infrastructure footprints across multiple global locations.  

Gartner predicts that by 2023, more than 50% of the primary responsibility of data and analytics leaders will comprise data created, managed, and analysed in edge environments – and Digital Realty says that, as a result, a "new pervasive data centre infrastructure is needed to enable digitized endpoints and mobile users to fully participate in globally distributed workflows"

On that point, Sharp says Digital Realty has "been doing a lot of homework around edge" and that as an operator, these developments will see it "evolve over the course of the next couple of quarters".

He continued: "There's an evolving workload that's not here today, that's going to require new infrastructure deeper in the metro, and so how that gets built out and where that gets built out is very near and dear to our hearts. With this native software capability, we can enable that. With that tight, seamless integration with software, now you'll start to see our portfolio being very viable and relevant to the edge."

Specifically Digital Realty is exploring new potential location points for "colo type environments".

Sharp explained: "The edge has many things within it right? It could be a new spectrum like 5G, it could be a new type of workload, but we're looking at how those spectrums are going to roll out and where that breakout happens, because that becomes a logical potential point for a colo-type environment. You'll see us really leveraging the software to enable that because quite frankly, in the next five years, there will be an inflection in how traffic gets created, and a differentiation in the value of traffic."