When Choosing a Cloud On-Ramp, Go for Simplicity

Cloud is king. Today, about 95 percent of enterprises have adopted cloud computing strategies and more than 50 percent are making cloud their primary IT strategy. But there’s moving your data and applications to the cloud, and then there’s connecting to the cloud to access those applications and data.

Last December I attended the Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference in “Fabulous” Las Vegas, where I rubbed elbows with dozens of enterprise IT managers and got a sense of their thinking about cloud infrastructure. Among the IT people I spoke with, the prevailing belief was that the only way to get connected to a cloud was to sign up with a colocation provider like Equinix, Coresite or Interxion. Most people weren’t even aware that there are other options.

The fact is, there are at least three ways to obtain on-ramps to your cloud resources: through your cloud provider, through a colocation provider, or using your network service provider.

Cloud provider
Cloud vendors like AWS and Azure offer connectivity to their own cloud services but really only in a few locations. Also, as connectivity is not their prime focus this offering is quite limited. If you happen to be nearby this could be great but most of the times you need something more.

Colocation provider
Another way to access the cloud is to do it through your colocation provider. Most of them have good access to various clouds. Like with the direct connect case above you will still have the challenge to establish a connection from where all your users are to where your colocation provider have their facilities. In this case where you will use your colocation provider you will also face the fact that you need to have at least three contracts. One with the cloud provider, one with your colocation provider, and finally one with your connectivity provider to get access to the colocation facility.

Service provider
Finally, you can buy your connectivity to the cloud from a global service provider and solve the problem that way. A global service provider has the capability to connect your users anywhere and therefore give them global access to cloud resources, wherever those resources happen to be. As service providers generally are connected to many cloud facilities from the same cloud vendor your access to that specify cloud vendor would always be from their best-connected cloud location at the moment of connecting.

Remember that in moving to cloud, one of your primary goals was to put resources in various diverse, but still central locations that could easily be accessed by anyone worldwide. The end goal is really simplicity. With cloud, access to resources should be seamless, and therefore it is of outmost importance to find the best way of connecting to them. The key is to understand where your users are and find the best solution based on that.

Flip the switch
Why should you then care? Because according to Uptime Institute, 30 percent of the times when companies experience problems with the cloud it is actually caused by the connection between the user and the cloud – not the cloud infrastructure itself. By carefully selecting your approach to be connected to the clouds you want to use you can avoid having unnecessary outages or too many contracts to handle. As described above the cloud ecosystem offers several different connectivity solutions. However, a rule of thumb is that each provider in the ecosystem is usually best at what they are primarily doing.

Cloud connectivity should really be like a utility: you flip the switch and it just works. By talking to your global service provider, you should be able to find out the best approach for your specific needs. Simplicity can never be overrated. For more on this topic, see our white paper here.