Clouds at the Digital Edge: Making the most out of digital IT with multi-cloud connectivity

One of the outcomes of digital transformation that we’ve discussed in Interconnections is the changing role of the IT organization as it moves from being a centralized authority to an advisor, broker and orchestrator of business services across multiple clouds. By mixing and matching your company’s business needs to the best cloud services, you have the opportunity to create a more agile, flexible and scalable IT service delivery infrastructure that better supports your organization’s digital business goals. But are you making the most out of this new dynamic, digital environment?

As the perimeter of your IT organization extends out to the digital edge, where population centers (customers, employee, partners) and digital ecosystems (clouds, mobile, social networks, B2B partners) meet, legacy corporate networks are being brought to a breaking point. Today’s more mobile, digital users have high expectations, and they expect you to deliver a high quality of experience (QoE), scalability and resiliency without exception. Enterprises that rely on the “best efforts” of the public internet are finding that those efforts are often not good enough.

Backhauling traffic over the public internet to access centralized cloud services has never been particularly effective or efficient, but with ever-more globally dispersed user communities and business partner ecosystems, it’s quickly becoming a showstopper. To combat high-latency networks, expensive WAN connections and the inconsistent performance of private and public global networks, you need a more distributed and interconnected cloud strategy.

This is why more and more businesses are taking an interconnection-first approach that leverages an Interconnection Oriented Architecture™ (IOA™) strategy to optimize cloud connectivity at the edge. An IOA is a proven and repeatable architectural framework that both enterprises and service providers leverage to directly and securely connect people, locations, clouds and data.

Architecting the digital edge for multi-cloud connectivity

To architect for the digital edge using an IOA strategy, you need to bring the WAN and LAN together and create a “digital edge node,” which can consist of an Equinix Performance Hub, Cloud Exchange or Data Hub, depending on your specific requirements. Each node is tailored for the network and traffic types that are localized, segmented and optimized at a specific geographic location. You can build the nodes in a step function way for modular scalability and deploy them in metro-based zones where there is a high density of users, traffic, data and clouds.

By directly interconnecting multiple cloud services at the edge via Layer 2 or 3, you reduce topological distance, which decreases your number of hops. You also optimize bandwidth, which speeds throughput. All in all, these shifts help you achieve ultra-low latency.

To get there, you can cross connect to multiple clouds locally within the edge node, either physically with a dedicated cable (single tenant) or by using software-defined networking (SDN) services to create virtual dedicated cross-connects (multi-tenant) ꟷ each of varying bandwidths and all with much lower latency than WAN or SD-WAN. You can also directly connect to the internet to optimize access to personal or lower-risk application services.

The benefits of deploying an IOA strategy to interconnect your clouds at the edge include:

  • Provisioning new connections is dramatically simplified. Your time-to-new connection speed is now hours, not weeks.
  • With high performance, multi-cloud connectivity, your enterprise can now construct cross-cloud service or business flows (service chaining) and achieve lower latency between services.
  • Localizing your cloud-based workload traffic over more cost-effective connections via an edge node to users (customers, partners, employees) minimizes your need to backhaul traffic to corporate data centers over expensive WANs, significantly reducing your costs.
  • If your workload capacity requirements change or you need to amp up redundancy/disaster recovery, you now have a scalable number of connections to multiple cloud providers or services that can be provisioned on-demand.
  • As you work to keep pace with new application or digital business requirements, you can leverage an established interconnection topology between or among multiple clouds for ultra-adaptability.

Read the IOA Playbook to start taking your cloud services to the digital edge.