Equinix predicts 5G, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Data Privacy and Cloud to undergo major architectural changes
Evolving technology and data trends such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, data privacy and cloud are paving the path for significant IT and network architecture changes in 2019, according to Equinix which has released its top five predictions for 2019. With an unmatched geographic footprint across 52 global markets and nearly 10,000 customers, Equinix has developed unique insights into the key drivers pushing enterprises to succeed in the digital economy. This special vantage point is enabled through a platform that connects established and emerging ecosystems of enterprises and cloud and network service providers.
Equinix’s 2019 predictions include:
1) Paving a Path to the Promise of 5G – Tomorrow’s high-speed wireless networks will accelerate today’s network transformation
5G will open up endless possibilities of digital transformation, especially in an IoT and AI connected world.
Asia-Pacific is on track to become the world’s largest 5G region by 2025. In Singapore for instance, the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) has waived frequency fees for 5G mobile network trials until December 31, 2019 to spur innovation and the proliferation of 5G technology.
To attain the high radio density required for 5G, operators are looking to optimize costs through the use of open-source commodity networking hardware and virtualization of the wireless networking stack. These efforts will pave the way for the Edge architecture to solve for cloud radio networks, that power several radios through pools of virtualized network software. Equinix anticipates massive investments in 2019 in the revamping of existing cellular building infrastructure and building of new edge infrastructure, as well as innovation in hardware and virtual wireless networking stacks for cost optimization.
2) Riding the Rise of Distributed Artificial Intelligence Architectures – Next-gen architectures will break free from centralized locations
The growing use of AI in business and society will increase data usage exponentially. As part of Singapore’s push for its Smart Nation status, the government has planned to invest up to SGD $150 million (equivalent to over US$100 million) from the National Research Foundation on AI over five years through its new national programme called AI Singapore. While first-generation AI architectures have historically been centralized, Equinix predicts that in 2019 enterprises will enter the realm of distributed AI architectures, where AI model building and model inferencing will take place at the local edge, physically closer to the origin source of the data. To access more external data sources for accurate predictions, enterprises will turn to secure data transaction marketplaces. They will also strive to leverage AI innovation in multiple public clouds without getting locked into a single cloud, further decentralizing AI architecture.
3) “Un-Blocking” the Chain: A network of networks will mature blockchain for greater business security and monetization
Blockchain investments are growing at a CAGR of 73%, with a projected total spending of $11.7 billion by 2022, according to IDC. Investments in Asia-Pacific excluding Japan is also forecast to reach US$2.1 billion in the same period. Positioning itself as a blockchain hub, Singapore announced earlier this year that the Monetary Authority of Singapore has proposed for regulatory standards to be revised to accommodate blockchain-based, decentralized exchanges, while the Central Bank is exploring blockchain applications for clearing and settling payments and securities. Furthermore, there is also a strong push by Singapore universities to offer courses and workshops in blockchain. Equinix predicts that:
- Enterprises will start to participate in multiple blockchain networks (e.g. food safety, financial services, global container shipment), thus creating a network of networks – something that allows them to simultaneously interact with multiple blockchain ecosystems.
- Blockchain performance will become a more important requirement within the enterprise space, driven by the need to accommodate more than simple transaction data or as an element in applications where real-time performance and linkage with other data sources matter. Examples of performance sensitive blockchain applications would include track & trace (supply chain), machine-to-machine (IoT) communication/exchange, and cross-Border currency settlement, just to name a few.
- Integration will become a huge challenge as enterprises combine their legacy applications with multiple blockchain networks, necessitating the deployment of exchange points for blockchain participants to directly connect and collaborate.
4) Maneuvering the Data Privacy Maze: Changing data protection laws and heightened privacy concerns will inspire more progressive security processes
Many enterprises and SaaS providers are deploying mini-clouds in multiple regions in order to adhere to local data residence and compliance requirements. A study of Ernst & Young reveals that regulations in Asia-Pacific are expected to rise to GDPR standards as international regulations become more standardized. They are also looking at distributed data management architectures that require global networks and data fabrics in order to coherently manage these distributed mini-clouds.
Equinix predicts that in order to prevent data breaches and retain control over their data, enterprises will consider:
- New data management techniques that operate seamlessly on encrypted data (for example, limited forms of data querying on homomorphically encrypted data)
- New hardware-based virtualization technology that will prevent service providers from surveiling their customer’s data
5) Tapping Interconnection to Tame Cloud Complexity – Hybrid multicloud environments will increase the relevance of interconnection
Enterprises are now accessing SaaS, IaaS and PaaS solutions from multiple providers, and 2019 will see the next level of challenges associated with hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud approaches. Enterprises will struggle with expanding their security perimeters, as well as integration and management issues as they pursue multicloud architectures. These trends indicate that enabling capabilities such as security, analytics and data exchange in close proximity to the cloud is a must for seamless cross-border data flow, and the right interconnection partner can help organizations navigate through the complexity of cloud.
According to the Global Interconnection Index, a market study published by Equinix, Interconnection bandwidth between Enterprises and Cloud and IT Providers in Asia-Pacific is projected to grow 99% CAGR through 2021, supporting businesses building out new digital services and migrating existing workloads to third-party cloud platforms.
- Brian Lillie, Chief Product Officer
“The market is at an inflection point, where the right digital strategies become the differentatior and source of competitive advantage for organizations. And for the first time in history, the technology to fully enable digital business is available to everyone. As a trusted advisor to thousands of customers around the world, we closely track the market trends that will shape the future of digital enteprise, and help bring customer inspired innovation to life on Platform Equinix.”
- Samuel Lee, President, Equinix Asia-Pacific
“In the year ahead, multiple technology macro trends will hugely impact the Asia-Pacific region. To succeed in today’s fast-paced digital world, it is crucial for companies to ensure they have the infrastructure required to support the continuous evolving technology landscape and are highly interconnected to keep pace with the performance, scalability and security it demands. Interconnection is central to enabling businesses to embrace new trends and build their digital future. Equinix will continue to play a fundamental role in connecting and powering the digital economy in the coming year.”
Equinix, Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX) connects the world’s leading businesses to their customers, employees and partners inside the most-interconnected data centers. In 52 markets worldwide, Equinix is where companies come together to realize new opportunities and accelerate their business, IT and cloud strategies. Equinix.sg
 GSMA Mobile Economy Report, July 27, 2018
 Blockchain: Worldwide Technology Market Update and Spending Outlook, September 2018, Doc #US44268418, IDC.
 Why every APAC financial institution and outsource provider to EU financial institutions should be thinking about GDPR, 2018, EY