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The Data Center: An Enterprise’s Bridge to the Cloud
Ian McVey, Interxion
DEC 23, 2014 01:16 AM
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Today, enterprises are on a journey toward greater business agility and IT efficiency, and the pressure is on the office of the CIO to provide more capacity for less cost. CIOs are tasked with leveraging a commodity IT platform that also needs to be agile and exploited for business value. As such, enterprises are shifting compute and application resources from a dedicated model to a cloud-based, pay-per-use model at rapid rates, with forecasts predicting the cloud services market to attain a 24.8 percent CAGR through 2018. 

The migration path for enterprises to the cloud will be different per business and the decision to shift from dedicated to cloud will be taken application by application. Furthermore, given the considerations enterprises need to make around privacy regulation, data sovereignty and mission criticality of applications, enterprises will seek to use “best of both worlds” IT solutions. This means businesses will build and operate hybrid infrastructure environments into perpetuity.

However, achieving this IT reality – one that involves combining legacy and cloud applications as well as in-house and outsourced IT, can be a difficult process. The good news is, technology from cloud service providers and connectivity-rich data centers continues to evolve to make the cloud migration a seamless process – now it’s up to enterprises to understand their options and the opportunities and challenges ahead.

The Ends Don’t Justify the Means

While projections of permanent hybrid IT are promising, many enterprises are still wondering what it actually takes to make hybrid cloud deployments work. To achieve a hybrid IT reality, customers need to connect their on premise data centers to the public cloud, which have very distinct environments. Whereas on premise data centers are static, single tenant and physical; public cloud environments are dynamic, multi-tenant and abstracted. This makes bridging public cloud and on premise IT a difficult process.

In order to connect the private IT installations to the public clouds there are two traditional methods: Internet and private connect. Increasingly, enterprises are reluctant to go through the public Internet for cloud connections because they are concerned about the safety of data. A recent study on cloud computing from 451 Research highlights enterprises’ concerns about Internet-based connectivity: 30 percent of companies surveyed stated that security is the biggest pain point and roadblock to migrating to the public cloud.

It’s certainly reasonable for businesses to have these concerns. After all, the Internet is an open connection of diverse networks and provides an unlimited range of hacking opportunities. Still, enterprises continue to rely on the public cloud for its immense benefits, not the last of which are greater agility and economy of scale. Therefore, identifying alternative cloud connectivity options is quickly becoming a top priority for many businesses. Specifically, enterprises are leveraging private solutions that will safely and securely extend their networks into the public cloud while improving performance, reliability and scalability.

The Bridge to the Cloud

In response to business demands, connectivity-rich data center providers, in conjunction with Cloud Service Providers (CSPs,) are increasingly offering private, high throughput, more reliable and lower-latency connections to the cloud. A few major CSPs are providing private connect services, such as Amazon’s Direct Connect to AWS and Microsoft’s ExpressRoute to Azure. These private connect services bypass the public Internet and provide service level guarantees on latency, throughput and security.

In these scenarios, data centers are enterprises’ bridge to the cloud, supplying the connectivity to the on/off ramps. Data centers partner with network service providers like Level 3 and BT, who – through Ethernet and MPLS network solutions – provide access to the private connection points of public cloud providers. This way, enterprises can easily plug into AWS, Azure and other leading CSPs in a secure and reliable environment.

The Cloud Highway

Given the pace at which hybrid cloud is growing, enterprises are exploring other options to diversify their connections to major CSPs. According to Gartner, half of all large enterprises globally will have deployed hybrid cloud by the end of 2017, with 2016 being a “defining” year, where they will start to move away from private into hybrid.

To support enterprises throughout this journey and improve their ease of doing business, connectivity-rich data center providers are developing innovative, next-generation solutions and becoming not just bridges to the cloud but highways for their customers. By operating switching infrastructure and the necessary networking capacity, data centers are enabling private access to the private connect nodes to the major CSPs via a virtual LAN. In turn, enterprises can order virtual cross connects with the data center provider, achieving access to multiple cloud service providers from one single connection to achieve their hybrid infrastructure goals.

For enterprises looking to take advantage of cloud, data centers that foster cloud communities of interest are the ideal environments to do so. In these Cloud Hubs, private and public cloud infrastructures can collocate and cross connect, enabling enterprises, service providers and systems integrators to work together to develop better hybrid clouds.

In Cloud, All Roads Lead to Connected Data Centers

Highly connected data centers that work in partnership with CSPs are becoming the true enablers of the hybrid IT reality. Whether they assume the role as a bridge to the cloud through carrier connectivity, or if they act as cloud highways with their own switching solutions co-location, carrier neutral data center providers are true cloud highways that CIOs can leverage as the ticket to future proofing their IT strategies.

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