IT infrastructures can no longer keep pace with the rate of change in today’s business environment. For most organizations, the only way to stay competitive is to take full advantage of the cloud, with its fast ramp-up, flexibility, scalability and agility benefits. Multicloud solutions are the new norm for more organizations, with 85% of enterprises employing a multicloud strategy – 58% being hybrid clouds – according to the “RightScale 2017 State of the Cloud Report.”
As multicloud architectures evolve, interconnection among cloud services and employees, partners and customers becomes critical. Interconnection, in this case, is defined as a localized physical or virtual connection to partners and services inside a common colocation facility. Applications and services that reside on multiple cloud computing platforms need to intelligently interact with one another to enable more flexible, smarter and faster business workflows.
Legacy infrastructure connection methods (e.g., MPLS) can be expensive and inadequate for the high performance, scalability and security needs enterprises face today. Many organizations put money into increasing bandwidth, but latency issues can only be addressed by shortening physical distances, regardless of the various WAN and SD-WAN options available. Additionally, the public internet has both performance and security limitations that make it undesirable for multicloud interconnection. The financial and reputational risks associated with using the internet, like service interruptions and data theft (exploiting customers) quickly offset the perceived benefits.
An interconnection-first approach that establishes secure, direct connections to clouds and services at the digital edge, where the highest density of users, applications and data reside, is the path forward. An interconnection-first strategy allows applications and services across multiple cloud ecosystems to work seamlessly and securely together. With an Interconnection Oriented Architecture™ (IOA™) strategy, multi-sourcing applications and services is the new normal, allowing enterprise IT to focus on business differentiation and competitive advantages.
Connect to Multiple Clouds at the Digital Edge
To tackle latency and security and optimize for multicloud, organizations need to adopt a new strategy that includes moving much of their infrastructure from a centralized model to one that is decentralized, re-directing traffic to the digital edge, close to users, partners, clouds and other service provider infrastructures.
The best way to achieve public, private, hybrid and multicloud interconnection is to first leverage smaller, distributed, connected data centers at the digital edge. Second, simplify your network topology by deploying an IOA strategy to directly and securely connect people, locations, clouds and data.
This approach delivers on both business and technical objectives—initially by saving on infrastructure costs and creating better user experiences for customers, partners and users. Moreover, connecting multiple cloud services at the digital edge alongside major cloud providers such as AWS, Google and Microsoft Azure — and a selection of network, SaaS providers and business partners — allows you to interconnect directly at better speeds and lower latency.
Interconnecting directly, rather than over the public internet, also enables robust security services to be embedded in the communication flow — including deep packet inspection — without performance concerns. The digital edge is also the logical place to run multicloud management tools, including API management, service catalog, inventory, chargeback, provisioning and workflow orchestration. In addition, any interconnection changes can be implemented at near real-time speed via APIs or a portal interface when using a solution that supports virtualized connections to multiple clouds, such as the Equinix Cloud Exchange.
The steps toward multicloud interconnection included in the IOA Playbook include:
- Determining the network segmentation and bandwidth needed for selected cloud services.
- Registering for the appropriate cloud services to facilitate connection.
- Creating or requesting the connections.
- Right-sizing bandwidth-to-usage patterns.
- Re-directing business traffic over dedicated interconnections.
- Adding links as necessary for cloud pilots.
- Leveraging intersection points to link clouds together.
The diagram below illustrates how you can cross connect to multiple clouds locally within an edge node that leverages interconnection solutions such as the Equinix Performance Hub and Cloud Exchange. You can connect either physically with a dedicated cable (single-tenant) or by using software-defined networking (SDN) services to create virtual dedicated cross connects (multi-tenant), with lower cost bandwidth and less latency than WAN or SD-WAN connections.
Multicloud Interconnection Leveraging an IOA Strategy
Most of Equinix’s cloud-enabled enterprises have embraced and leveraged these interconnection capabilities by implementing an IOA strategy to better engage with end users at the digital edge. For example, a large Fortune 100 pharmaceutical company is conducting a clinical drug trial using a genome sequencing application that utilizes computing cores from AWS to fulfill the application’s compute requirements, while simultaneously using Microsoft Azure for the application’s storage. To do this, the company deployed the Equinix Cloud Exchange to support a service aggregation edge node that leverages a multi-hybrid cloud architecture to deliver the application.
Cloud Exchange, deployed within a digital edge node close to its users, significantly reduced the latency for the application architecture. The firm can now select best-of-breed IaaS resources at scale and provision virtualized, high-speed connections for predictable application performance. The benefits of an IOA approach far outweigh a traditional WAN or SD-WAN network architecture in terms of meeting the company’s application requirements for high performance, scalability and quality of user experience—all at a lower cost.
There are many benefits to leveraging an IOA strategy for interconnecting clouds, including:
- Simplification: Localizing delivery of cloud-supported services to customers, employees, partners and users is dramatically simplified and scalable.
- Saving time, reducing cost: Provisioning new connections in a multicloud environment takes hours versus days or weeks.
- Flexibility: Capacity flux and requirements are easier to map to demand as right-sizing of the connection is faster and more flexible.
- Reduce cost: Backhauling over long distances to corporate data centers is eliminated.
- Performance: Performance is enhanced dramatically, thanks to proximate, dedicated connections and proximity to users, applications and data.
Check out the IOA Playbook to start enabling and leveraging multiclouds at the digital edge to improve your application performance, improve security and drive a more flexible, robust business.