IBM SoftLayer Joins Equinix Cloud Exchange

The Equinix Cloud Exchange Wednesday added IBM SoftLayer to its burgeoning network of partners. And with the new partnership comes direct access to IBM's full portfolio of cloud-based enterprise applications, a first for Equinix's emerging platform.

The Redwood City, Calif.-based network-neutral co-location provider launched its Equinix Cloud Exchange in April, billing the new platform as a means for enterprises to provision multiple clouds through multiple networks and more seamlessly build and manage hybrid clouds. Since then, Equinix has been adding partners with regularity, including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, GoGrid and Microsoft Azure.

But the addition of IBM's SoftLayer incorporates a first-of-its-kind component: applications that can be accessed through the Exchange in what amounts to a Software-as-a-Service offering, said Chris Sharp, vice president of cloud innovation at Equinix.

[Related: Equinix Launches New State-Of-The-Art Exchange]

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Prior to this deal, SoftLayer infrastructure and applications were available to Equinix customers through IBM's Direct Link service, a dedicated network connection. But the direct interconnection of the kind made possible this week adds a level of flexibility, speed and security comparable to a virtual private network.

"We're announcing the fact that we've gone beyond the software streaming Direct Link service to true software services," Sharp said.

"Which is a huge step in the right direction from our perspective. Being able to have SoftLayer services now available on the Cloud Exchange is very enticing to our customers," he told CRN.

IBM did not respond to a request for more information, but SoftLayer offers a marketplace of more than 100 SaaS business applications, from file sharing to analytics to management solutions.

Equinix is rolling out its direct interconnection with SoftLayer in nine markets worldwide.

Incorporating SoftLayer into the Cloud Exchange allows a more elastic environment for building out hybrid clouds for customers interested in using IBM's computing infrastructure as the public component.

Sharp told CRN that Equinix has also been working to ramp up connectivity options, so network services can be purchased on the Exchange in a utility model. He cited partnerships inked over recent months with telecommunications providers Level3 and Orange.

"We see that as the way the market is going to evolve," he said.

In a prepared statement, Sonny Fulkerson, SoftLayer's CIO, said, ’SoftLayer has maintained a long-standing commitment to providing advanced network capabilities to the enterprise as part of our core service offerings. By extending our Direct Link offerings to now include access via the Equinix Cloud Exchange capabilities, we further our goal to improve the flexibility, performance, security and reliability of enterprise connections to SoftLayer.’