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Kamel Al-Tawil, the Managing Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Equinix, speaks about the company’s participation at GITEX

Which products and solutions will you be showcasing at GITEX Technology Week?
As global IT decision-makers respond to an increasingly dynamic world including competitive pressures, growing customer demands, globalization, and challenges posed by COVID-19, many are accelerating their digital transformation efforts and continuing to prioritize the adoption of hybrid and multi-cloud solutions. This year at GITEX Technology Week, Equinix will introduce its Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric (ECX Fabric) platform to help digital businesses simplify hybrid multi-cloud deployments and expand their global interconnection opportunities on Platform Equinix.

What are your expectations from the event this year?
Despite the challenges of this year, it is a positive sign to see the industry come together from around the world. Technology has played an instrumental role in driving economic continuity in 2020 and at GITEX we look forward to discovering innovative best practices and showcasing areas in which we continue to make major advances.

Equinix has been participating at GITEX year-after-year with the aim to stay up to date on the latest discoveries from Multicloud, Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Machine Learning (ML) are fundamentally changing the way data is being produced, shared and analysed.

Do you plan to run any online engagements such as webinars in parallel to GITEX?
Even with the ease of restriction and going about life as before, turning back to normal will take some time, and events will look very different in the interim, similar to this year’s edition GITEX Technology Week merging virtual with an in-person event. At Equinix, we opted for virtual participation and exhibiting rather than physically exhibiting at the event.

How is your company weathering from the market effects on the pandemic?
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 this, the fourth volume of the report (Vol.4), digital service providers, within industries like telecommunications, cloud and IT services, content and 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.

Even before the current pandemic, enterprises were implementing digital transformation initiatives, reassessing their cloud adoption strategies and cloud readiness, and moving towards digital solutions and tools to ensure business continuity. As the pandemic continues to accelerate the shift to digital, enterprises facilitating more remote working, such as telecommunications and cloud & IT providers, are expected to contribute to 54% of the total interconnection bandwidth growth in EMEA, outpacing other industries in the region.

The report also forecasts that overall interconnection bandwidth—the measure of private connectivity for the transfer of data between organizations—will achieve a 45% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2019 to 2023, within the EMEA region. The expected growth is driven by digital transformation, and specifically by greater demands from enterprises extending their digital infrastructure from centralized locations to distributed edge locations.

This comes as businesses scale and supports 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.

What were the key learnings over the past couple of months and how do you plan to use those to make changes to your regional strategies?
Digital leaders must prepare for post-pandemic recovery by planning and implementing the right digital transformation initiatives now. At Equinix we believe those that have a foundational infrastructure that helps bring together all the right places, partners and possibilities will gain a business advantage over the long term.

The GXI Vol.4 provides insight on how global macro trends and despite COVID-19 impacting certain industry segments, we believe there are ways to navigate this. The digital adoption pattern has altered, with service providers now forecast to provision more interconnection bandwidth than enterprises, by a factor of nearly 2x. However, much of this service provider demand is anticipated to be in support of enterprises that are prioritizing their digital transformation in preparation for post-pandemic recovery.

Traditional business, within industries like banking & insurance, manufacturing, and business and professional services, will represent a combined 30% of global interconnection bandwidth 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 50% annually.

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 49% combined CAGR from 2019 to 2023.

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