Many companies are still deciding whether to migrate their workloads to the cloud or keep them on-premises. Fortunately, it is no longer about staying on one side of the spectrum. Instead, companies can take advantage of the on-demand infrastructure and services from a cloud provider while keeping all their data on-premises, perhaps for data sovereignty or compliance reasons.
When companies decide to work with infrastructure that is adjacent to the cloud, the possibilities of integrating with other products and services could be countless. For instance, a company might choose to host their databases on-premises and interconnect with AWS and other partner solutions like Salesforce. IT organizations don’t need to make major adjustments to their existing infrastructure. They can start at the network level to establish private and secure interconnections to one or more cloud or SaaS providers.
Let me share a few ideas for when having infrastructure adjacent to the cloud is a perfect match. But first, let’s see what is meant by “cloud adjacency” and why it’s different to other existing architecture models.
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You could think about cloud adjacent infrastructure as an evolution of a hybrid infrastructure where the communication between public and private clouds happens over the public internet. However, there are data centers, such as Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) sites, that are located directly “next” to the cloud in the same facility. Being next to the cloud makes it possible to communicate with one or multiple cloud providers in a private and secure manner via dedicated “on-ramps” using Equinix Fabric™ software-defined interconnection, without going over the public internet. This type of communication provides significant benefits to those workloads such as low latency and reduced data transfer costs.
A cloud adjacency model helps enterprises use the cloud as an extension of their data centers. They won’t need to make sweeping changes to get started. And if you’re using tools like Terraform and Ansible to automate infrastructure provisioning and configuration, your ability to make architecture changes quickly increases exponentially.
At Equinix, you will find a large marketplace where you can use Equinix Fabric to privately and securely connect to cloud providers like AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, Oracle or IBM. You can also connect to other partners, like Salesforce or any other customer that has infrastructure at one of our data centers. We also support tools such as Terraform and Ansible so you can easily integrate your existing workloads to a cloud adjacent model.
Now let me share a few scenarios where a cloud adjacent infrastructure is a great fit:
1. Bursting Workloads
Server capacity planning on-premises presents challenges such as having enough lead-time to buy new physical servers. However, you could use a cloud provider to scale out a workload temporarily, on-demand. Cloud adjacency not only gives you a more agile hybrid architecture but also helps you connect to a cloud provider securely and privately. For instance, the diagram below shows servers in a data center being used for reserved capacity. But when you need to scale out rapidly and momentarily, you could leverage a cloud provider.
In the above diagram, AWS Route53 is managing the DNS domain that your users interact with. It then spreads the load between the servers on-premises and the EC2 instances through an application load balancer (ALB). To absorb a spike in traffic, CloudWatch can combine the metrics from the ALB and decide when to scale-out or scale-in the EC2 instances. All the infrastructure on-premises can interact with any resource in AWS using VPC endpoints through Equinix Fabric and AWS Direct Connect.
2. Data sovereignty and/or data analysis
There are times when a system has restrictions on where to store the data and who can access it. You may decide that you don’t want to move data to the cloud but would like to use some cloud services. Having a cloud adjacency model helps you solve this private and secure communication problem. There’s no need to exchange data traffic over the public internet when there are direct lines of communication from a data center to the cloud. Cloud providers offer services like AWS Direct Connect or Azure ExpressRoute that are interconnected with Equinix Fabric on Platform Equinix®, where adjacent locations to these providers are offered globally and guarantee private and secure communication.
As you can see in the diagram above, you may keep your data at a data center where you have more control or need to maintain data sovereignty but still use some services from a cloud provider. On-premises servers continue performing data analysis and expose only certain information for reporting purposes. This reduces data transfer costs because of the amount of the data being exchanged and the lower data transfer costs via private channels
3. Edge workloads with special hardware
Another typical scenario where cloud adjacency shines is when you need to have low-latency communication with a cloud provider from a data center. Typically, this is true for internet of things (IoT) workloads. In addition, these types of workloads might need special hardware that a cloud provider doesn’t offer. For instance, let’s say that you’d like to collect data from video cameras and then run some predictions on that data, like the diagram illustrates below:
Here, you can see a scenario where low latency is essential because the data you need to process is from special hardware (farm machinery). The quicker you predict that it might be malfunctioning, the better it would be. It is likely that you might not get this low latency if the connection goes through the public internet.
These are the most common scenarios for cloud adjacency, however, the possibilities are endless when you have an interconnection hub, such as Equinix Fabric, where you can communicate privately and securely with other cloud providers and business partners. With this model, you’ll be modernizing your enterprise’s digital infrastructure to provide greater agility while scaling it with direct and secure, private interconnection to one or more cloud providers.
To learn more, download the Equinix Fabric data sheet.
You can also reach out to your local Global Solutions Architect, and we’ll be happy to help you create a proof of concept (POC) to map out your journey to cloud adjacency.