Industry analysts that follow enterprise organizations and the proliferation of Cloud computing are in overwhelming agreement: the Cloud is growing, and its proliferation is forever changing the business landscape. By 2018, more than 60 percent of enterprises will have at least half of their infrastructure on Cloud-based platforms.
Where enterprises are concerned, today’s Cloud is a complex ecosystem of networks, data centers and applications – one however, that is essential for them to reach in order to better manage their workloads and access business-critical applications. By 2017, analysts predict 35 percent of new applications will use Cloud-enabled, continuous delivery and DevOps lifecycles for faster rollout of new features and business innovation. The growth of business applications is causing a fundamental shift in where the Cloud is sitting, moving from the four walls of the enterprise to third-party data centers.
A broad range of computing resides in the data center, from enterprise and content colocation, to direct connections to major Cloud providers such as Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and more through the aggregator of the Cloud ecosystem: the Cloud exchange. Cloud exchanges interconnect an ecosystem of computing platforms, cloud service providers and transaction systems within or between data centers. Data center facilities with strategic locations, ample power and a high level of interconnectedness are critical to the creation of successful Cloud services. While most data centers have optimized high bandwidth connectivity between their facilities to aid in rapid Cloud connectivity, the challenge of performance and reliability over last-mile access connectivity to the business Cloud user still remains a challenge.
Connectivity Is Critical
As Cloud computing continues to grow and takes up permanent residence within the data center walls, the need to connect outside of the data center to business Cloud users not only becomes more critical, but also more complex. In addition to the access market being highly fragmented with no network ubiquity, access connectivity is expensive, with nearly 70% of the cost of network services derived from last-mile connections to business locations such as corporate headquarters, remote office locations and even enterprise-owned data centers. Compounding the connectivity challenge is the lack of visibility into enterprise locations, specifically, the ability to understand what networks and bandwidth connect these locations. With the Cloud only as good as a business’ network, connectivity is a critical element in the successful delivery of the enterprise’s user experience.
The business applications within an enterprise environment, whether they are used for e-mail, large media file-sharing and storage, streaming video, or even within a development center, will dictate the type of connectivity required to connect the location. These connections can range anywhere from lower bandwidth Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) to higher bandwidth Ethernet Private Line. Many companies prefer to connect to their Cloud services via a dedicated, private connection for increased security, performance and scalability. Direct Cloud connectivity over Ethernet has become the connection option of choice for its ability to deliver guaranteed performance, reliability, dynamic scalability and security that cannot be achieved over the public Internet. Furthermore, Ethernet connections typically offer an improved price per Mbps at higher bandwidth than other Wide Area Network (WAN) solutions such as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), often selected for its ease in supporting large number of business locations. A single technology option may not satisfy the complex needs of today’s enterprises, as they look to purchase the right connectivity for the right application at the right location and the right price.
Traversing the path from the Cloud data center to the enterprise Cloud user requires tools that can address the connectivity challenge of lack of transparency into service options, service attributes to match application needs and competitive pricing in real time. One solution to the challenge can be found by leveraging a network marketplace.. A network marketplace provides an automated application to design, price and buy connectivity across multiple aggregated network technologies and geographies. It can also eliminate the complexity and inefficiency of a fragmented network market by providing visibility into service options, pricing and availability at specific locations. With this added intelligence, enterprises can make more informed business decisions, connecting the right applications to the right locations with the right services to save costs and ensure optimal network performance as well as the best customer experience for their Cloud usage.
In subsequent monthly installments of our Cloud Connectivity CloudTweaks series (Subscribe for future updates), we’ll further explore how a marketplace of networks simplifies enterprise customers’ ability to connect to and consume the Cloud, as well as identify what variables to weigh when selecting the optimal connectivity from the data center to Cloud users within the enterprise.
By Mary Stanhope