Equinix business exchange plays proximity card

It may seem counterintuitive, but in the cloud computing era, location does matter, at least when it comes to where data is stored and processed.

Data centers are becoming the market exchanges of the new digital economy, so the closer a business can put its data — and compute power — to its users and partners, the better.

That’s the thinking behind the new Equinix (s EQIX) Marketplace. Equinix, the big data center services provider, built the online marketplace to help its data center customers — which include SaaS companies, managed service providers and financial services outfits — expand into new markets and tap into an existing battery of potential partners that already use those data centers, according to Jarrett Appleby, the chief marketing officer.

Equinix fields 99 data centers in 38 markets in the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia. It claims 4,000 business customers.

Partnering with partners that use the same data center is not new, and Equinix even helped match-make some customers in the past, but in an ad hoc way. The online market should give these customers easy click-through menus to find potential partners based on geography and the type of services needed, Appleby said.

“You can say, look, I’m a Rackspace OpenStack customer in Singapore and I want to add this sort of service. Who can I work with that’s already in my data center?” he said.

The Equinix effort follows other work that big data center hosts have done to cut latency times and boost throughput for business customers. In August, Amazon Web Services (s AMZN) Direct Connect program gave large data center services companies, including Equinix, a fat, fast direct pipe into AWS.

Equinix sees an opportunity, given the demographics of its customer base. “Now more than half of our business is with customers who use us in multiple regions and 60 percent are businesses who use us in multiple countries, up about 10 percent from last year,” Appleby said.

If a business wants to expand into new geographies, it can do so faster if its data center provider is already local to the new venue and the business can utilize connections already in place, Appleby said.

He cited an example of Bloomberg L.P., a big financial services firm that initially wanted to launch a new service in Chicago and New York. “But then they figured, why not do that globally? We helped them get into ten markets in less than a year.”

Photo courtesy of Flickr user DeclanTM