How To Converse in Cloud

What Is a Cloud On-Ramp?

High-performance connections to multiple cloud providers across strategic locations can help businesses pursue many digital use cases

Christina Spinney
What Is a Cloud On-Ramp?

Cloud services have helped digital businesses unlock greater flexibility, cost-efficiency and innovation.  However, savvy IT leaders recognize that how they access those services matters.

These days, anyone can access the cloud from just about anywhere. But to capitalize on the benefits of cloud, you must ensure reliable, low-latency connectivity to multiple cloud providers in strategic locations worldwide. At the same time, you need to be able to secure your cloud data, comply with data privacy and sovereignty requirements, and keep your costs predictable. You can achieve all these things using cloud on-ramps.

A cloud on-ramp is a direct, private connection offered by a cloud provider inside a vendor-neutral colocation data center, and accessible via either physical or virtual network infrastructure.

What are the benefits of using cloud on-ramps?

Cloud on-ramps can help you avoid many of the challenges that often come from using the public internet for cloud access. When you use a cloud on-ramp, by definition, you have proximity to the cloud provider of your choice. This means that low latency is a given. You also get performance benefits compared to the public internet, since your traffic takes the most direct route possible to the cloud and doesn’t have to compete with other traffic to get there.

Also, a cloud on-ramp is a private connection, so your data will be protected from the time it leaves your infrastructure until the time it reaches the cloud. And since cloud on-ramps allow you to access cloud services on demand, without having to store your data in the cloud, you can maintain the control you need to ensure you’re meeting your data sovereignty requirements.

Beyond the basic benefits of better performance and control, cloud on-ramps enable these possibilities:

  • Modernizing your network infrastructure
  • Unlocking the power of cloud adjacent storage
  • Optimizing your application development architecture
  • Enabling private AI

Modernizing your network infrastructure

For many enterprises, network modernization is among the first steps they take to build a foundation for more advanced digital transformation initiatives. According to the Equinix Leader’s Guide to Digital Infrastructure, many businesses that pursue network modernization achieve ROI in just 6 to 12 months.

One reason enterprises pursue network modernization is that traditional MPLS networks aren’t well suited to deliver multicloud connectivity. Many businesses still operate centralized hub-and-spoke network infrastructure, making it difficult to ensure proximity to different providers everywhere they might need cloud services. They can also experience inconsistent performance across multiple clouds, as well as unpredictable pricing.

In contrast, a modernized network infrastructure is highly flexible and distributed, thus allowing you to get the right cloud services in the right locations. In particular, a virtual networking solution such as Equinix Fabric® allows you to connect into a single port and get access to cloud on-ramps to many different providers in many places throughout the world, all with built-in flexibility and low latency.

Unlocking the power of cloud adjacent storage

The question of how best to move data into the cloud looms large for many enterprises. It’s common knowledge that a hybrid multicloud approach delivers the best results, as it allows you to pick the right environment for each workload. However, hybrid infrastructure can only perform as intended if data moves between cloud and on-premises environments quickly and cost effectively, and achieving this is often easier said than done.

To solve the hybrid multicloud data problem, you must ensure your data is close enough to move into the cloud when the need arises, while also avoiding the costs and complexity caused by storing data directly in the cloud. To put it simply, you need cloud adjacent storage. A cloud adjacent data architecture is built around a core storage environment made up of interconnected cloud adjacent regions. In each region, enterprises can access low-latency cloud on-ramps to move data into multiple clouds on demand. These cloud on-ramps can help you get the best results from hybrid multicloud without having to sacrifice control over your data.

Optimizing your application development architecture

Cloud services are integral to helping enterprises develop optimized applications or modernize legacy ones. However, many enterprises realize they need a way to get those services while maintaining control over the infrastructure used in their application development stack. To help deliver services at scale, cloud providers place many abstraction layers between applications and the hardware that supports them. Enterprises can achieve better application performance, cost efficiency and predictability by bypassing this abstraction and developing apps closer to the hardware.

To get control over your infrastructure while also ensuring the multicloud connectivity you depend on, you can deploy a dedicated cloud environment. Just like private cloud, dedicated cloud includes on-demand single-tenant compute or storage capacity, often in the form of a Bare Metal as a Service (BMaaS) solution. From a development perspective, single tenancy can help you ensure application security, reliability and performance.

Unlike traditional private cloud, dedicated cloud pairs single-tenant infrastructure with multicloud access. Therefore, locations with high densities of cloud on-ramps are ideal places to deploy dedicated cloud environments that support better application development.

Enabling private AI

Enterprises are rushing to capitalize on efficiencies and innovations enabled by AI, but they need a way to do that without placing their data at risk. Using public AI services creates the potential for unintended data leakage, as some companies found out the hard way during the early days of ChatGPT.[1] To avoid this risk, many of these enterprises are pursuing private AI, where they build their own AI models, host them inside a protected environment and train them using proprietary datasets.

Thanks to cloud on-ramps, you can incorporate public cloud services into your private AI strategy while still maintaining control over your AI datasets. This means that you can enjoy all the benefits of cloud services, including the ability to scale capacity quickly to keep up with the growing demands of AI workloads. At the same time, since you don’t have to store data directly in the cloud, you can minimize the potential drawbacks of public cloud, including:

  • Performance and latency issues
  • Higher-than-expected costs due to data egress fees
  • Risk of failing to comply with data sovereignty and privacy requirements

There’s no better place than Equinix to find cloud on-ramps

No matter which digital use cases you’re pursuing, access to diverse cloud on-ramps will make it easier to achieve your goals. As the global market leader in native cloud on-ramps, Equinix can help you connect with your chosen cloud providers when and where you want.

Equinix colocation data centers are available in 70 markets globally. Many of these markets are home to low-latency cloud on-ramps, with all major cloud providers represented.

For example, Platform Equinix includes:

  • 45% of all Google Cloud on-ramps globally, including support for 22 low-latency Google Cloud Interconnect locations
  • Access to AWS Direct Connect in 45+ strategic markets—more than any other data center provider
  • Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute availability in 36 global locations on five continents, making us the leading provider of ExpressRoute globally

In addition, many of these cloud on-ramps can be accessed using Equinix Fabric®, our virtual networking solution. This means that in many cases, you wouldn’t even have to be physically colocated with a particular cloud provider to get access to their on-ramps. Across the six largest providers of cloud on-ramps globally (AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Oracle Cloud, Alibaba Cloud and IBM Cloud), there are more than 200 on-ramps directly accessible via Equinix Fabric.

Using cloud on-ramps in Equinix data centers can help customers unlock the full power of direct, private interconnection to ensure greater infrastructure agility and access to best-of-breed services on demand. To learn more about how leading companies are building distributed digital infrastructure around interconnection hubs to support a variety of digital transformation initiatives, read the Leader’s Guide to Digital Infrastructure.


[1] Emily Dreibelbis, Samsung Software Engineers Busted for Pasting Proprietary Code Into ChatGPT, PCMag, April 7, 2023.

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Christina Spinney Vice President, Technical Solutions, GTST
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