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Some years ago, a managed-IT services company VisioNet, which offers more than 155 service points throughout Indonesia, wanted to expand its connectivity to the major cloud service providers (CSP) to serve enterprise customers better. However, its data centres did not have any direct connection to the CSPs, and VisioNet needed an ethernet-based solution for interconnecting data centres with cloud on-ramps to directly access multiple CSPs.

At around the same time, aamra, an ICT solution and service provider needed to connect its end customers to global internet exchanges (IX) to serve increasing internet traffic between Europe and Bangladesh. With a huge opportunity to expand its business into new region and meet new customers’ requirements, aamra needed to rely on an agile and flexible way to interconnect to multiple internet exchange points (IXP).

You have just witnessed two scenarios where enterprise transformation is pushing service providers to offer solutions beyond their traditional business models. The cloud has become more entrenched along with user demands for instant gratification.

The solution to both situations has involved establishing private, secure and fast data centre connectivity with access to global CSPs and IXs. Such data centre interconnection (DCI) between cloud-centric infrastructures needs be high performance, scalable, agile and simple to deploy.

From the enterprise end user’s perspective, the number of applications and business-critical workloads in the cloud is ever-growing and the customers they serve are also becoming increasing geographically distributed.

DCI has become an important strategy for enterprise as they expand globally, accessing cloud resources and delivering services across multiple regions. They will be looking to service providers to advance their global endeavours.

What is the business value of interconnection?

Today, compared to a decade ago, enterprises are increasingly participating in an interconnected space fuelled by innovation, collaboration and transformation. The cloud has played a huge part in this seismic shift as they emphasise on the importance of accessing multiple networks and clouds in a cost-effective, secure and seamless way.

The need for DCI within an enterprise and with other networks, clouds, partners and stakeholders has to be fulfilled at reasonable cost and maximum security, privacy and manageability. Only then can the investment be tapped to realise exponentially greater opportunity and value for the business.

What makes for good DCI?

In the past, enterprises can either order a private line from an ethernet service provider to interconnect their on-premise data centre or have the data centre operator to provide a cross connect for colocation data centre.

This model used to work well since most service applications are deployed within a single data centre environment.

As the amount of data grows and with more cloud deployments, the network infrastructure becomes extremely complex to manage and inefficient in the long-term. On top of that, there are also inherent risks involving security and performance.

These factors, along with the maturing of the cloud, has transformed the role of data centres over the years. They are becoming access points to the clouds (on-ramps) and that’s driving the demand for interconnection.

This is even clearer with enterprises deploying workloads across multiple clouds. Multi-cloud deployment has already become the default model in cloud use today.
A good DCI solution should simplify connectivity between data centres, clouds and other networks while offering granular bandwidth options that are made available on demand.
Connectivity must be secure and easy to manage without placing undue stress on manpower. Global reach and diverse data centre and CSP connectivity adds to new scalability and flexibility as well.
You can guess by now that the ingredients of a good DCI solution includes virtual networking technologies. Right now, software defined networking (SDN) is offering all the aforementioned traits of solid cloud-centric DCI.
Building a best-in-class cloud-centric DCI ecosystem
An organisation’s approach to DCI is driven largely by what it envisions as desired business survival or growth outcomes, and by the needs of all levels of stakeholders such as customers, business partners and competitive forces. Connectivity must be a long-term IT strategy because of the number of applications and services running on it.
Regardless, it should create new business and strengthen existing operations, and not lead to more IT challenges in future due to lack of scalability or compatibility.
For example, an OTT provider locked into a traditional (non cloud-centric and non SDN-based) DCI ecosystem will lose out on huge business opportunities if it is unable to reach new markets worldwide. Or, if an enterprise wants to establish presence in a new market, it cannot afford to have a legacy network infrastructure holding it back.
With the right service provider to simplify and accelerate the implementation of a cloud-centric SDN-based DCI ecosystem, half the battle is already won.
But not all SDN platforms are equal in terms of flexibility, bandwidth capacity and connectivity options.
comprehensive SDN platform should be able to deliver on-demand interconnection with data centres across the globe as well as to the CSPs and internet exchanges (IX). The underlying core network is also an important factor: this means choosing a carrier-grade MEF-certified service provider is crucial to achieving best-in-class outcomes.
Solid interconnection for future-readiness
A cloud-centric DCI strategy is the foundation for building future technologies and creating powerful collaborations with new business partners. When deployed on a global network fabric combined with a powerful SDN platform, enterprises have the freedom to grow their capabilities wherever they see fit.
Such a model for business transformation is the future; all enterprises that have yet to embrace on-demand connectivity and interconnection will hopefully re-evaluate their current IT capabilities and not wait until the opportunities for survival and growth have already zipped past!
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