Looking forward, the further evolution of cloud connectivity will involve greater interoperability and cloud-to-cloud communication
One of the major enablers of new digital products and business models for the current and future transformation of enterprises is agility.
Enterprises need the flexibility to redesign the connectivity for each location and operations in line with their ongoing transformation process. Connectivity used to be an enabler, but as new products are developed and portfolios evolve in modern digital business, it is becoming an intrinsic part of the product itself; take the connected car as an example.
Therefore, enterprises will need even greater flexibility in all aspects of their connectivity to make it fit for the future, including the capability to adjust bandwidths, optimise latency and security, and reinforce the resilience of their connectivity in line with the business demands and application requirements.
And creating secure and customisable connections to new business partners as and when needed. Not to mention time-independent booking and adjustment of services and intelligent automation.
Comparing the new demands with legacy enterprise connectivity is a bit like comparing an elite athlete with a couch potato. The couch is comfortable, but modern digital business requires strength, resilience, and flexibility to win the game.
Understanding the connectivity landscape of the modern enterprise
So how is the enterprise connectivity landscape transforming?
A digitally transformed factory, for example, has more data requiring storage and processing than a legacy factory. This data will most likely be stored and processed in the cloud to enable access from geographically dispersed company locations to monitor KPIs and QA in a centralised way and to provide management with aggregated data for making decisions.
As a result, modern enterprises have an increased demand for aggregating and transporting data. But beyond this, a factory is no longer the preserve of the manufacturing company alone. With concepts like robotics as a service, a factory provides a home for intelligent machines owned and operated by external partners.
Consequently, it is necessary to optimise the connectivity to headquarters, branches, production plants and specific external parties. Intelligent production processes, be that the use of robots, smart quality assurance, or additive manufacturing (3D printing techniques), place much greater demands on the resilience of the connectivity. This requires guarantees in the form of high-level service level agreements (SLAs), dedicated bandwidth, and flexibility.
Added to this, companies also want to consume more services from centralised clouds from multiple cloud providers simultaneously as part of their multi-cloud strategy. In this case, end-to-end flexibility is required to guarantee the bandwidth needed for the given service.
Companies today no longer consider the historical A-to-B locational conception of connectivity. Instead, they require more fine-grained connectivity between applications, workloads, devices, and users.
The conception of connectivity is no longer about connecting sites in, for example, two particular cities; rather, the focus is on goals like setting up connectivity between the company’s AI cluster in a centralised hyper-scale and the locally hosted on-prem SQL database.
The importance of resilient, fast, high-bandwidth, and flexible connectivity from the enterprise network to the cloud and to other digital infrastructure service providers, as well as to any service providers involved in the company’s digital value chains, cannot be underestimated. The evolution of modern interconnection services must follow and reflect the needs of modern business.
Designing these modern interconnection services, therefore, needs to be approached in two ways: firstly, by creating a robust, secure, resilient, and high-performance physical infrastructure, and then by adding flexibility and simplicity through virtualisation and automation, thus enabling a range of customisable services.
Resilience is essential for keeping data traffic safe and flowing
For a digital business, trust in its connectivity infrastructure is essential. Day-to-day operations depend on fail-safe transportation of data, be that customer data, maintenance of systems, analytics, or any other of a myriad of essential data-driven use-cases.
Unfortunately, in the real world, incidents and outages are a part of life, and it is necessary to build connectivity in such a way as to minimise their impact of these. Just as a resilient immune system helps the body avoid infection or bounce back rapidly from health-related setbacks, connectivity requires its own form of resilience.
A company can design its critical digital infrastructure to be more immune to real-world events by building multiple layers of redundancy in technology, geography, and business partners.
Sounds great, you say, but how is this even possible?
Redundancy, neutrality, and diversity in digital infrastructure are key to the greatest level of resilience. This must be factored into the design of enterprise connectivity from top to bottom.
Take what we do at DE-CIX as an example: Physical redundancy is an essential hallmark of the design of DE-CIX platforms, necessary to support the SLAs we guarantee our customers. The distributed nature of our platforms, accessible in many geographically dispersed data centres, and redundant deployment of our core and edge infrastructure ensures resilience against localised outages.
Furthermore, we purchase connections as diversely as possible along multiple routes so that connectivity can be maintained between locations, even in the case of localised outages along one pathway.
This means we ensure redundant and non-overlapping cable connections between every data centre where our platform is accessible, creating a highly robust and resilient, failure-safe interconnection environment.
We seek the highest levels of diversity on multiple levels: different operators, different cable stretches, and different upstream products. Interconnecting our platforms globally, the same applies: we share our capacities across different sub-sea cable routes and ensure that these paths do not overlap.
Enterprises should also apply this best practice approach to ensure resilient connectivity for their critical data flows and value chains, the foundation of business continuity in the digital economy.
How enterprises can get what they need when they need it
Bearing in mind the need for resilient connectivity, it is not surprising that enterprises are looking for secure and resilient alternative means to access their chosen cloud services. The demand for private cloud connectivity is constantly growing, and digital businesses meanwhile understand the pitfalls of connecting to clouds via the public Internet.
At the same time, flexibility and simplicity in handling interconnection services are paramount to enterprise agility. An access model (one access, multiple services) for the booking of interconnection services, paired with a self-service portal and API capabilities, ensures easy booking, scaling, and adjusting services. This makes a multi-cloud strategy feasible and manageable and simplifies general interconnection.
No matter whether it’s for direct access to hyper-scale and specialised clouds, for sourcing and using specific applications from the cloud (like Microsoft 365), or for securely connecting and exchanging data with business partners in a secure and exclusive environment, enterprises require a dedicated infrastructure to consume the services they are using.
Therefore, even when the underlying infrastructure is necessarily shared (such as the global Internet backbone and interconnection platforms like those operated by DE-CIX), enterprise customers need a virtual point-to-point private line, meaning that the enterprise connectivity is logically separated and has guaranteed reserve bandwidth on the infrastructure.
The further evolution of cloud connectivity will involve greater interoperability and cloud-to-cloud communication.
Technology-neutral integration enables the service edge
Technology-neutral integration allowing the service to the edge is needed to fulfil the interconnection needs of future enterprises. Here again, DE-CIX, the world’s leading operator of neutral interconnection platforms, can stand as a model.
The DE-CIX ecosystems are home to all the digital service providers that the business world needs access to, the data centres, the network operators, the cloud and content providers, the content distribution networks, and many more.
As an innovative interconnection specialist, we are responsible for providing flexible integrated solutions in terms of an on-demand network as a service and customers beyond the scope of traditional interconnection services.
The best way for enterprises to ensure the greatest resilience of their connectivity to locations, partners, and resources in the cloud is to not only build out their redundant connectivity with multiple contractual partners but also to capitalise on the redundancy and diversity built into the distributed and neutral nature of the DE-CIX infrastructure.
As an agile facilitator, an interconnection specialist like DE-CIX can simplify and streamline the process of creating resilient connectivity for the digital transformation challenges of the modern enterprise.