By: Jay Turner, Vice President, Development and Operations at Console Connect by PCCW Global.
While the world was in panic mode as the pandemic hit, firms employing cloud technology were able to pivot rapidly and respond to shifting demand. The crisis exposed the gaps in organisations’ digital strategies and compelled businesses to accelerate cloud use.
The migration of enterprise workloads to the public cloud has solidified the attraction of increased business flexibility and agility through on-demand service consumption and pay-as-you-go pricing.
However, bridging the connection gap between the corporate network and the cloud is a difficult task for which there is no one-size-fits-all solution. And by not tailoring and optimising cloud resources to business needs, 82% organisations using cloud are spending far more than they need to.
Meanwhile, the widespread adoption of public cloud-based applications and services has resulted in a public/private mix and introduced a new and most challenging dynamic – the need to connect corporate data centres directly to assets in the cloud.
For an enterprise to get maximum value from its cloud assets, it must assess different connectivity models to ensure its specific requirements can be met. One size does not fit all, and it may be that an organisation needs to use a mix of different connectivity types and even service providers to optimise access to its cloud-based investments and, by extension, to optimise its business.
Connecting the clouds
With the adoption of a hybrid infrastructure becoming the norm, there is an increasing need for these cloud sites to connect to each other. Moving from one to multiple cloud environments presents enterprises with greater choice. With that said, businesses can decide which workloads run in which cloud environment. Moving workloads between both public and private clouds has a genuine use case. And doing this via a quicker, more secure, more robust private network is far more efficient than using an unreliable public network.
Given the prevalence of cloud-based applications and services, public internet might be a convenient and affordable option to deliver access to a large number of people quickly. However, it’s unlikely that the internet will meet increasingly stringent privacy and security requirements, or the performance capabilities required. That is why a balanced, hybrid approach is the right answer to many businesses today. Furthermore, a ‘cloud marketplace’ model, where businesses can go online to find, purchase, and manage cloud-based applications, gives organisations one place to connect to many different clouds and services, making network assets less complex.
Given the accelerating adoption of hybrid environments, enterprises will increasingly need to take better control of their business-critical connections to the cloud. This requires careful evaluation of an enterprise’s current cloud environment and its future needs. Enterprises must look at how departments throughout their organisation access cloud-based services and consider some of the dependencies that exist between workloads that are being placed in different cloud environments.
Controlling the cost
Although the ‘cloud is cheaper’ mantra has been thoroughly discredited from a purely financial standpoint, dedicated links can improve infrastructure ROI when it comes to cloud connectivity.
While transferring data to the cloud is free, transferring it out incurs egress costs, which are hard to predict. As a result, the price of a dedicated connection may be less volatile, especially as some cloud providers charge less for data egress over dedicated connections.
Each cloud provider has a different pricing model. Not only do enterprises need to consider the cost of operating their infrastructure in different clouds, but they also need look at the associated charges for accessing each cloud.
To truly leverage advantages of the hybrid approach, companies need secure, high-performance connectivity to the cloud, connecting multiple private and public data centres together. Businesses can also focus on delivering mission-critical traffic via premium lines while offloading non-critical traffic to the public internet, thanks to simplified management tools.
With the advent of SD-WAN, organisations with a single access circuit for cloud connectivity can split the network traffic across their private network and public internet connectivity, depending on its sensitivity or criticality. This ensures optimal performance of the investments by balancing premium connectivity for business-critical services with low-cost broadband internet access. Purchasing services, rather than developing their own, can also save money as businesses don’t have to buy and maintain hardware. More granular cost management is possible since capacity can be scaled up, down, and shifted across the network as needed.
Hybrid cloud has the potential to help any organisation change their approach quickly without experiencing significant latency or interruption. Moving to the cloud has several advantages beyond cost savings. Hybrid cloud customers benefit from security, responsiveness, scalability, availability, and cutting-edge technology, and innovation at lightning speed. And if the business faces an unexpected crisis again, it can utilise best practices established in its cloud-based business continuity plan to reduce the impact on business operations.