First Equinix Channel Chief Sets Big Goals for Company's Channel Partners

The new channel leader wants Equinix to take a big leap from just 30% of business running through partners.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

May 13, 2021

8 Min Read
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Equinix channel partners are now under one leader with the promotion of Jules Johnston to senior vice president of global channels.

Johnston joined Equinix in early 2016 and most recently was vice president of Americas partner sales. She’s been in her newly created role for about a month.

Equinix previously didn’t have a global channel chief. It’s now initiating an integrated partner sales and partner program team.

The $6 billion company last month announced its 73rd consecutive quarter of revenue growth. In addition, its channel program continues to grow. Equinix channel partners contributed to more than 30% of bookings and accounted for more than 60% of new customers.

Last month, Equinix introduced private network access to Microsoft Azure to customers across six new global markets — Canberra, Seoul, Dubai, Rio de Janeiro, Berlin and Bogota. Equinix offers this access through Azure ExpressRoute on its own platform. It also provides direct network access to Azure services such as the Azure VMware solution.


Equinix’s Jules Johnston

In a Q&A with Channel Futures, Johnston talks about what Equinix channel partners can expect in the months ahead.

Channel Futures: How has your role with Equinix changed?

Jules Johnston: There are a couple of reasons we’re bringing the group together. One, we have spent the last few years listening to our partners about their needs. And in a company the size of Equinix, it is to their benefit to be able to aggregate and elevate their needs and concerns to develop greater, more standard, consistent tools and infrastructure to help scale for partners. So a good deal of the impetus of this is to provide an elevated service and a consistent experience instead of running a channel motion differently in all parts of the world. That extends to tools and infrastructure. It’s also about being a champion for our partners with our product group so we can move the company to a partner-first product strategy. And the need for that is fortunately exacerbated by new services.

Here’s our list of channel people on the move in April.

As we launch new products and services, it’s very important that we have a partner-sensing feedback mechanism globally. It’s also important to have partnership certifications, partner trainings and partner SAT mechanisms. Enterprises now need not just Equinix, but all the things our partners provide. So our selling motion has dramatically evolved. That’s because the enterprise needs all those adjacent services, and we’ve been fortunate to have a lot of big partners lean in with us.

CF: How will Equinix channel partners benefit from the partner organization coming together under one leader?

JJ: I think they benefit from an ease of communication and a greater consistency in our delivery from the organization itself. So our move to consolidate the partner champions, to elevate their voice within Equinix, is important. It’s part of a commitment to invest in more tools for them. For example, we’re investing in a partner quoting tool so they can globally be more self-sufficient [in] answering the customer’s questions and complexities around network choices or …

… cloud requirements in order to make the right recommendation within the Equinix platform.

We’re the world’s digital infrastructure company, but we don’t do it all by ourselves. So it’s essential that we team with partners who can bring their own services and competencies into a solution. They span the gamut from managed services to professional services, to infrastructure planning services and application migration services. Customers need all of those right now in abundance.

Most enterprise customers don’t have enough expertise to move as fast as they would like toward hybrid cloud or to optimize their networks. But if they work with partners who make their solution and base it at Equinix, then they’re in a position to meet their own needs and help their own business survive and thrive.

CF: What’s fueling the growth of Equinix’s channel program?

JJ: When I began at Equinix just a few years ago, it was small, single digits in terms of percentage of our business. So today we’re delighted that channel partner selling represents over 30% of our new business on a consistent basis for the last several quarters. And we have a stated goal from our CEO … that in the next few years, we will do greater than 50% of our business through partners. That represents obviously a very meaningful share. So this is a must do and must do well for us.

Here’s our most recent list of important channel-program changes you should know.

CF: Equinix recently partnered with Dell to provide colocation services. Will Equinix channel partners benefit from that?

JJ: Certainly Dell will. Dell is an interesting partner for us. Dell’s partner community will also benefit from that. We do a number of very interesting things with Dell. They not only OEM and resell our bare-metal services, but they also bring together many of the other services in the Dell and VMware portfolio onto Dell paper and in Equinix both for federal government and enterprise customers. The (colocation) service will be available through Dell’s large partner community.

CF: What’s at the top of your to do list in this new role?

JJ: So first, it’s really to bring the people together into one organization. I can say that’s job one. The other piece that is consuming a great deal of my time right now is I am fortunate the company is investing in a leadership team that we’ve never had for global channels. I ran the Americas as the vice president, and the Americas channel was the largest of the regions that we had. But we’ve never had a regional channel organization or VP-level folks in Europe or Asia. At this time, I’m not only bringing the people together, but I’m also hiring a leadership team across the world. So we will have senior channel veterans to lead the teams around the globe that will form a leadership team that will help to bring our global partners consistency when they’re operating across our footprint.

CF: Can we expect to see more changes in Equinix’s channel strategy and partner program in the months ahead?

JJ: The partner program will have an increased focus on those partners that are investing in integrating Equinix into their services. So it’s betting on the partners that are betting on us. Verizon is a good example, where they have their own software-defined interconnection product that’s built on …

… Verizon infrastructure in an Equinix platform setting. As they make those kinds of investments, we’ll put more resources on those partners.

We’ll also see Equinix continue to do more sustainability and social impact work with partners. One of the things that we began this year is doing more collaborative social impact events with partners. The pandemic spurred this on. We’re making that a category of something we’re going to award partners for. It’s very important to Equinix and our identity that we give back to the communities in which we serve. We find partners like Verizon and Cisco, and others feel the same way. It’s a way for us to get closer to our partners and do some good at the same time.

CF: Who are Equinix’s main competitors? Will your new role in this new channel leadership structure give Equinix and its partners that a competitive advantage?

JJ: There aren’t really apples-to-apples, identical competitors because of the way that Equinix approaches its business. We call our data centers interconnected business exchanges (IBXs). We believe that we’re not just a data center company; we’re an infrastructure company. And the secret sauce is that we do have the largest footprint, but we really interconnect that with the fabric offering that most of our competitors don’t really approach.

The differentiation between us and our competitors is at its core a fabric that future-proofs your cloud strategy. It’s having more direct on-ramps to the clouds than anybody else. And against that backdrop, it’s our continued investment in partners to have them bring their solutions into our platform. That’s not something the others can offer in the same way.

CF: What do you hope to have accomplished a year from now?

JJ: We will this year meaningfully upgrade the consistency of experience for partners globally. We will launch a number of new tools. And we will have made a pivot to be partner first in our product and communications strategy, which we frankly haven’t been. So this is a big commitment for us. A year from now, our products will first go to beta with our partners. And then they’ll go to general availability for our customers. Our communications will first contemplate partners. They will have experienced a lot more consistency and be the beneficiary of more mature tools.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Edward Gately or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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