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Global connectivity does not need to be treated as separate from the cloud ecosystem. Networking access to cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Softlayer or Google Cloud Platform can be streamlined with some basic components.

When networking is integrated into the cloud ecosystem then enterprises can have friction-free access to these platforms and support the growth of cloud services in their business knowing the network is available, secure and scalable. In the case of data centre operators, it can be seamlessly integrated as the fifth component to their cloud offering following powered shells, data centre suites, co-location services and custom solutions. That accelerates their ability to sell and deliver complete solutions to enterprise customers and extend the reach of their solutions.

The key components are:

1. Portals and APIs

Procurement and management of global network infrastructure must move online.

Just as the buying and selling of goods and services in other industries leverage eCommerce-based customer experiences, network infrastructure procurement can be web-based. That gives customers and suppliers the ability to rapidly provision services and move beyond the largely email and phone call-based procurement of today.

The advantage of web portals and APIs are that they enable anywhere, anytime purchasing and adjustment of network services. This gives cloud-based businesses a familiar level of transparency into active connections, service quality, service level agreements (SLAs), pricing, and even Google Maps-based visibility of enterprise locations and destinations.

The portal is also just a starting point when APIs can be offered to developers who can use them to integrate and develop new applications and services. This opens up opportunities to innovate on top of existing portals and provide even greater utility to data centre operators and enterprises.

2. Automation

If network services are enabled by a portal or an API, provisioning must be supported by new levels of automation on a global scale. Automation is key to network agility and providing cloud services with the flexibility to grow and scale.

Networks that do not have automation as a centrepiece of their model still rely on human intervention and often have long delivery times.

This slows the rollout of cloud services and takes the control away from the user. Automation is about giving users the ability to adjust and scale services rapidly and removing the limits or barriers to customising and shaping network services to meet their specific business needs.

When a portal is in place and is supported by automation on a global scale, network infrastructure can be accessed and provisioned the same way you buy cloud services from providers like Amazon Web Services. It matches the agility available in other services and brings it into the networking world.

3. Security and QoS

To harness the full power of the cloud, the network needs to cater for hybrid cloud scenarios, offering the full combination of public IP access and private Ethernet WAN with QoS and visibility in order to have full control over the network. Matching the right access technology with the right network architecture creates the robust environment enterprises and cloud service providers are looking for.

Application performance is critical in today’s cloud offerings as well as real-time visibility into network performance, such as latency, jitter, throughput are all vital components to provider a fully assured solution.

4. On Demand

The final piece of the puzzle is true end-to-end connectivity from enterprise location or data centre sites to destination around the world. On demand infrastructure requires a platform that brings together networks from a variety of providers and enables them to be accessed via a single relationship. When networks are pre-connected to a single platform, the data centre operator or enterprise can build their own networks and connect users to different clouds wherever they may be in the world.

On demand infrastructure delivered with this model is simple and efficient. It doesn’t require procurement teams to build relationships with service providers around the world or understanding local market dynamics and pricing. They can simply use the portal to access all the available infrastructure in the world from a web browser.

It is particularly time and cost efficient when connecting enterprise locations, as the access network can be complex to manage and maintain globally. On demand infrastructure with pre-connected networks removes this requirement and simplifies it into just mouse clicks.

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