Enterprise Hybrid Cloud Connectivity Options

January 11, 2018 Alan Sardella

Early last November, we published a blog that took a close look at enterprise application requirements to provide a high-level menu of where they might reside in terms of a private or public cloud.

Here, we’ll explore:

  • Prerequisites for enterprises to create hybrid clouds that include multiple Cloud Service Providers (CSP)
  • Connection options both inside and outside the Colocation facility
  • Potential service offerings that bring the enterprises the CSPs together
  • Customer experience requirements

Prerequisites for Hybrid Cloud Connectivity 

Hybrid cloud connectivity attributes can be defined both in terms of the underlying infrastructure and the automation system.

In terms of network connectivity, the requirements depend on the application, but the key attributes are:

  • Security: Ensure secure data transfers in and out of the public cloud
  • Latency: Ensure fixed/known latency for connecting to public cloud
  • Availability: Multiple routes to public cloud destinations
  • Performance: Measurable and fixed network bandwidths

All of this can be controlled through the use of visibility services at Layers 2-4. Nearly all applications can be handled at this level:

  • High bandwidth applications such as disaster recovery, big data and analytics, and content storage almost never have real time requirements
  • Some low bandwidth applications (voice, CRM) have near-real time needs, while others (email, reporting, HR or expense) are asynchronous; it is often relatively straightforward to sort them at Layer 4

When tuned to the proper degree to match your own requirements with those of your provider, you can be sure to have your service level agreements (SLA) met.

You can also ask your providers whether they have an automation system to be able to handle these requirements at scale; this system should be able to evolve into one that includes:

  • Service Oriented Automation: including one-click connectivity and the ability to consume, and quickly modify, customer configurations
  • Intercloud Service Orchestration: the cross-domain ability to orchestrate services among multiple cloud service providers

Connection Options

The simplest (most primitive) option is just to connect over the Internet via a network service provider to the CSP. This has the following pros and cons:

  • Pros: Can use existing internet connection to enable hybrid cloud; it’s easy and you can connect to any number of CSPs
  • Cons: Security is a huge issue here, and latency can’t be controlled

 So this option may not be ideal for applications that require a decent SLA.

An intermediate choice is to request a Point of Presence (PoP) for enterprises and CSPs within the Colo. This brings with it some new advantages:

  • Pros: The fixed latency and guaranteed bandwidth of a private LAN
  • Cons: Negotiating to house a demarc in the Colo data center, and the connectivity between the enterprise and the Colo is still over an SP network

Probably the most flexible option is to remove the requirement to connect over the SP network and house the enterprise DC in the Colo facility (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Enterprise DC Housed in the Colo for Maximum Flexibility

Of course, this isn’t always possible, and many enterprises will keep much of their infrastructure on premises, but when achievable it has the advantage of supporting very sophisticated services.

Potential Service Offerings

Figure 2 shows a high level overview of the ways you can connect for either hybrid or multi cloud capabilities.

 

Figure 2: High Level Service Categories

These categories can be described as follows:

  • Network to Cloud: Interconnection over a public or private network (WAN or DC) to a cloud service
  • Cloud Exchange: You can connect to multiple cloud providers on a private network
  • Intercloud Service Orchestration: You and/or your colocation facility can access and chain network and cloud services

The latter two options providing the most flexibility and performance.

The final category is more forward-looking, and requires an advanced automation platform to be able to perform cross-cloud orchestration. Even before the full bloom of this vision is realized, elements of solutions in this area can be deployed in an incremental fashion even today. 

Optimizing Customer Experience

The options for cloud exchange and intercloud service orchestration provide ways to optimize your experience as a Colo tenant; similarly, CSPs, and at times even network service providers, may house equipment in the Colo.

For you, the enterprise tenant, the advantages are:

  • One stop for multiple cloud services
  • Connection options to match the application SLA
  • Flexibility to update the connection as the requirements evolve for either hybrid or multicloud

Interestingly, CSP tenants also reap benefits:

  • Brokerage between multiple cloud services
  • They can provide their services more easily and cost effectively
  • They can gain customers faster and at higher speed

These advantages can be ensured by using architectures to support scale and performance. This should include an underlay to offer custom connections (at variable speeds for physical or logical interfaces) for selected cloud services, and perhaps even Bandwidth on Demand (BoD) from a customer portal.

Finally, if you are running MPLS or VPLS today, then using technology that can help you migrate to BGP-EVPN with VXLAN, especially while coexisting with your existing underlay, will allow you to scale and perform in conjunction with the needs of your customers.

For more information, follow the links in this article or contact your Extreme representative. 

About the Author

Alan Sardella

Alan Sardella is a Product Marketing Director at Extreme Networks, responsible for data center and cloud solutions including automation, telemetry and infrastructure. Alan has been in the networking industry for 15 years, working for a variety of vendors and open source providers, and focusing on routing, switching, and software-defined networking solutions. He worked in software development and technical training prior to that, and his academic training is in both computer science and the humanities.

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