By Sean Rinas, Head of Network Operations
Cloud-first is big business. Right across the digital economy, we are embracing the idea that we need to maximise usage of public and private clouds to accelerate digital transformation. What’s more, interconnectivity has a critical role to play here – in fact I recently described it as the new cloud battleground.
Essentially, if you’re seeking access to a variety of public cloud availability zones – and interconnectivity between them – you must architect the shortest, fastest, most secure and resilient routes between Point A and Point B. As these interconnections become more numerous and mission critical, visibility, ease of management and cost effectiveness are also key requirements.
What is driving the push towards cloud first?
First, it’s worth revisiting some of the economy-wide drivers underpinning the push to ‘cloud first’ operating environments. These are well established and can be briefly described as:
The need for scalability, both in terms of an enterprise’s overall IT operations, as well as individual systems and platforms.
Managing operating costs and power usage, to help meet profitability and sustainability objectives.
Embracing operational simplicity in an increasingly complex world.
Improved agility across all aspects of the enterprise, including employee collaboration, service delivery and supply chain.
Creating the ideal conditions for innovation, especially ‘test and learn’ and other agile practices.
As we know, cloud first has a significant role to play in addressing these requirements. But it also has a unique set of challenges.
The data-in-motion quandary
When you look at the numbers, we are just beginning the cloud first journey. Less than 20% of all existing data currently resides in the cloud. What this means is that over the next few years, there is going to be ever-increasing data volumes moving back and forth between devices and clouds, as well as between clouds.
This “data-in-motion” poses a very specific set of challenges for network specialists. It is particularly vulnerable to security threats, network failures, human error and bad actors. While data in all states needs protection, this is especially true of data that’s moving around between various locations.
However, security also needs to be balanced against benefits of cloud first strategy including performance, flexibility and scalability. So how can you achieve seamless interconnection of all your clouds and digital services without compromising security and privacy?
It was this question that led to the development of NEXTDC’s AXON interconnection platform. AXON enables dynamic network connections in real-time between any two points on the network. This includes all cloud on-ramps and digital services providers within our nation-wide ecosystem plus some cloud zones in third party locations.
AXON is a Layer 2 service that’s inherently more secure than the typical Layer 3 services available with perfect balance between performance and security.
Six questions for your interconnection checklist
If you’re evaluating providers to help optimise your cloud first strategy, data-in-motion considerations need to be front and centre. Ask the following six questions:
- 1. Does the service allow you to flex bandwidth up and down as required? Being able to dial up and down bandwidth based on workload requirements introduces performance and convenience benefits plus the inherent cost effectiveness of only paying for what you use.
- 2. Can you manage the service yourself, from any device? The convenience factor goes out the window when you find yourself having to ring your provider for contract variations and assistance each time you want to ramp up or down.
- 3. How secure is the service, and does it offer ultra-low latency and eliminate jitter? As mentioned above, if you’re using a Layer 3 service, things aren’t as secure as they could be. On the other hand, a Layer 2 service will not only offer greater privacy and security, it gives you the control needed to architect connections where latency is almost non-existent and jitter is eliminated altogether.
- 4. Does the service enable direct connections to the leading public cloud providers, as well as third-party data centres? Without both these capabilities, you will struggle to extract full value from your Hybrid IT interconnection architecture.
- 5. Will you be able to complete large transfers in hours? In addition to data centre migration projects, AXON can also be incredibly useful if you need to periodically migrate data for regulatory compliance purposes. I discussed one example of this from the Financial Services Industry in an earlier blog:
“AXON is delivered aaS, so the customer isn’t bound by fixed contracts, they simply lift and shift the data in adherence to their compliance obligations (at the speed they require), without any of the financial or commercial overheads.” More on that here.
- 6. Can you do everything you need to do from one screen? Again, convenience and productivity will be compromised if you need to make changes in multiple interfaces (i.e. in the connectivity solution, then in the cloud provider’s own interface). Ideally, you should be able to make one change which is then pushed all the way down the pipe. If we can help you address your data-in-motion challenges with an optimised interconnected cloud first strategy, reach out to our team. We’re here to help.