Introduction

Cloud services are not only changing the way organisations store data and host applications; they are triggering material architectural changes to data networks too. Workload migration to cloud is the primary driver behind leading organisations reconsidering their design, procurement, implementation and management of their telecommunication networks.

The desired outcome: optimised performance, best path, least cost routing, and secure connectivity helping to keep companies flexible, resilient and competitive.

Why are Cloud services
so popular?

Whether it be Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS), cloud is enabling organisations to rethink their whole enterprise IT strategies. Historically, organisations used to over-provision bandwidth, hardware and stock up on licences to cope with peak demand, but most of this resource was underused. Cloud services can be scaled at short notice or altered, to suit changing business needs or seasonal fluctuations, so companies only pay for what they need.

This is not the only way organisations can make savings through cloud services. The technology provides greater control and visibility, so an organisation can monitor performance and hold a cloud service provider to account for any shortcomings, without requiring resource from IT departments. Organisations with a global reach can also enact regional deployments with minimal latency and reduced data centre costs, through direct connections with geographically diverse hubs.

Adopting cloud services often involves migrating from a Capex infrastructure model to an Opex model. Opex offers much more regular and predictable expenditure, helping to avoid the often unpredictable spending associated with Capex.

Cloud services also move hardware out of the office and into datacentres, freeing up physical space in commercial premises. This reduces overheads such as electricity usage and cooling, which also helps improve company carbon footprint. It also facilitates a consolidation of real estate, delivering additional savings.

Cloud Connectivity Options

Many cloud applications, in particular SaaS, are inherently coded to operate over a standard public internet connection which is generally accessed through a standard internet browser. For many organisations this default method of access works perfectly well and therefore we see no strong reasons to change this approach.

However, as organisations begin to migrate more time sensitive applications or business critical services to IaaS and PaaS, the unreliable nature of the internet often results in issues relating to performance and/or quality.

To address this issue a number of connectivity solutions have been developed directly by the cloud service providers, and more recently new multi cloud backbone solutions have been launched by Telco’s and specialist exchange brokers

The points below show three alternative connectivity options. These options basically provide direct connections from the enterprise infrastructure and end user tier to the cloud platforms. In effect this brings services on-net, which improves connectivity and reduces latency (delay) because traffic does not have to cross the internet. These solutions, such as Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute and Amazon AWS Direct Connect, improve data replication speed between corporate datacentres and cloud infrastructure.

Telecoms vendors and specialist exchange brokers are also providing a wider variety of designs to access cloud platforms. This includes an MPLS or enterprise data centre multi cloud backbone. In effect, this is suited for organisations who have, or wish to have workloads spread across multiple cloud platforms

Ultimately, choosing the best connectivity model for any given organisation involves understanding the individual needs and structures in use, as well as strategic objectives. Each model offers benefits and drawbacks. Let’s consider these in turn…

1. Public Internet

Public internet connectivity is still by far the most popular way of accessing cloud based services. If your organisation mainly consumes SaaS cloud based services and has no critical time sensitivity applications, this model is most likely the best fit. This option is generally the default connectivity model from most cloud service providers.

Benefits

  1. Low cost solution, utilise existing Internet connectivity
  2. Rapid deployment. If your organisation needs short lead times to ensure you are agile within your market, speed of deployment is crucial. Internet-only systems are the currently the speediest option.
  3. Choice of supplier. Internet access circuits are simpler than Telco MPLS or Direct Access, which means there are more providers to choose from. These include local companies as well as global ones, giving wider choice and lower price points.
  4. Good for remote areas. Internet access is readily available in most of the world, making an internet system a good option if you need to service particular geographic needs, or reach remote areas.

Drawbacks

  1. Lower service level agreements (SLAs). You can insist on high service levels with Telco MPLS or Direct Access, but internet circuits are subject to higher latency and higher round trip delays. If SLAs are critical to ensure your business can guarantee continuity for critical functions, an internet-only system may not be for you.
  2. Risk of packet loss. Internet circuits carry a higher risk of data loss than Telco MPLS or Direct Access connections. This can be guarded against by putting appropriate SLAs in place, but this still poses a greater risk to critical functions.
  3. Less assurance of quality of service (QoS). Most service providers do not offer QoS over direct internet access circuits.

2. Exchange Broker

Benefits

  1. Improved SLA performance. This model offers better security and better SLAs than an internet-only connection.
  2. Once a connection is in place you have high speed guaranteed access to multiple cloud service providers.

Drawbacks

  1. Cost would be high in comparison to an internet only solution
  2. Limited service provider choice available in the market

3. Telco Provider

Similar to the exchange broker model except provided as part of your existing Telco WAN service.

Benefits

  1. Virtual connection to cloud service provider backbone direct from you corporate MPLS network
  2. Direct access from any site on the network, no backhauling through an enterprise DC
  3. Improved SLA performance. This model offers better security and better SLAs than an internet-only connection

Drawbacks

  1. Cost would be high in comparison to an internet only solution
  2. Not currently supported by all Telco service providers and many inconsistencies between UK and Global networks
  3. Introduces additional ties into the service provider which could be difficult to migrate if the WAN provider is changed

4. Direct Connect

Benefits

  1. Supports direct point-to-point access. You can access your data centre simply and easily.
  2. Minimal configuration. Once in place the hosting environment is effectively part of your enterprise network
  3. Improved SLAs and QoS.

Drawbacks

  1. Cost would be high in comparison to an internet only solution
  2. Limited to a single cloud provider

Which model is right for
your organisation?

Your choice of model will be determined by the key characteristics of your organisation:

  • Do you favour low costs or guaranteed SLAs?
  • Do you have time sensitive applications that must be supported?
  • Are you planning to host from more than one cloud service provider?
  • Where do your users consume the applications from?

Why not talk to The Network Collective about your commercial, technical and operational priorities for the years ahead? We can help you decide which connectivity model will suit you best.

Disclaimer

Other than matters relating to The Network Collective, this research is based on current public information that we consider reliable. Opinions expressed may change without notice and may differ from views set out in other documents created by The Network Collective. The above information is provided for informational purposes only and without any obligation, whether contractual or otherwise. No warranty or representation is made as to the correctness, completeness and accuracy of the information given or the assessments made.

This research does not constitute a personal recommendation or take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situations, or needs of individual clients. Clients should consider whether any advice or recommendation in this research is suitable for their particular circumstances and, if appropriate, seek professional advice.

No part of this material may be (i) copied, photocopied or duplicated in any form by any means or (ii) redistributed without the prior written consent of The Network Collective Limited © 2018

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