The Evolution of Cloud Connectivity Solutions

by Sameer Hilal

Evaluating a cloud infrastructure strategy is atop any CIO’s list. One of the sessions that stood out at ILTA’s 2016 ILTACON conference was about cloud strategies. That session and other evidence indicate most firms either have an existing cloud strategy or are starting to build one. Where is your firm in the cloud integration evolution?

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Rapid Expansion

Firms that have implemented successful solutions recognize that a strategy must include sound network planning and the ability to evolve as the needs of the firm evolve. Cost management is a concern, but the presenters at the ILTACON session and I agree that the variables have changed and there is no clear apples-to-apples comparison between cloud strategies and on-premises solutions. It is hard to quantify cost-benefits (or cost-avoidance) associated with an always on, ubiquitously accessible and fully redundant environment.

Gartner predicted public cloud services would grow to $246.4 billion in 2017, with the largest growth percentage coming from infrastructure as a service (IaaS) at $34.6 billion.

Earlier this year, technology research and advisory firm Gartner predicted public cloud services would grow to $246.4 billion in 2017, with the largest growth percentage coming from infrastructure as a service (IaaS) at $34.6 billion. In October 2015, the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicted that cloud IT infrastructure will grow at an annual rate of 15.1 percent and reach $53.1 billion by 2019, accounting for 46 percent of total spending on enterprise IT infrastructure. The IDC cited multiple factors for this, including the agility of a cloud-based IT infrastructure, financial reasons and the plethora of “next-generation applications born and run in the cloud.”

Infrastructure Progression

As IT organizations look to migrate to cloud infrastructures, they need to ensure the robustness of their cloud connectivity solutions. The abundance of cloud connectivity options leaves firms scratching their heads on what strategy to follow. Enterprises have gone through an evolution in how they build connectivity and access to their new cloud infrastructure.

  • Secure Virtual Private Network (VPN): With more and more organizations shifting to cloud-based environments, enterprises look to secure VPN solutions (Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), internet protocol security (IPsec), etc.) for their early deployments of cloud infrastructure. A secure VPN connects the firm securely across an existing public internet connection, so the cost benefits are great. You are simply managing a new node securely.
  • Dedicated Access: Once firms have tested their new cloud environment, they might look to deploy dedicated secure connections as opposed to going across the public internet or worrying about the load associated with encryption or decryption (on both ends of the link). They might deploy one or more basic Layer 2 solutions (point-to-point (PTP) or virtual private LAN service (VPLS)) for a single high-bandwidth connection. If a firm is seeking redundancy they might deploy more than one to different cloud provider points of presence (PoP).
  • Optimized Private Network Routes: Most carriers offer optimized private network routes: private connections to cloud providers across an existing multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) network. These virtual connections offer more reliability, faster speeds, lower latencies and higher security than typical internet connections. They make the cloud infrastructure one hop away from any location, which reduces latency and congestion. In addition to quicker and safer access to the cloud, some carriers integrate the MPLS connection with leading providers via soft ware-defined networking (SDN) capabilities and proprietary technology. The carriers interconnect to cloud providers (Azure, Amazon Web Services, GoogleCloud and others at multiple points, so the transfer of data between on-premises systems and the cloud provider can yield significant cost benefits, in addition to providing network redundancy.
  • Cloud Aggregation Points: For midsize to large organizations that leverage more than single or dual cloud providers, or for enterprises that already leverage physical data center facilities, the cost of adding multiple dedicated links or multiple express routes can become high or unmanageable. This leads us to a rise in “cloud exchange” service providers that aggregate connectivity to the cloud providers on one end and offer the customer a jumping-off point to the cloud sphere. Many of the traditional co-location facility providers are offering this; several of the carriers now offer the same.

The Right Strategy

Determining the right strategy for your firm is an essential part of managing a successful deployment. Evaluate and determine the optimal design, evaluate pros and cons of the various solutions and vendors, and distinguish sales speak from technology reality. Then negotiate the right contract terms and manage and support the deployment. Reassess regularly, and evolve the strategy as the needs of the firm change.

Post your comments or questions for Sameer below to dive further into cloud connectivity solutions.

Chief Operating Officer

Sameer Hilal is co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of vCom, a managed service provider focused on the procure-to-pay life cycle management for IT spend in the areas of telecom, network, mobile, collaboration and cloud services. Sameer excels at helping clients gain unprecedented visibility and efficiency to transform how their IT environment is managed. Law firms leverage vCom’s platform and services, from design and on-boarding to billing and support.