Why we still have concerns about hybrid clouds.

29 April 15

Why we still have concerns about hybrid clouds. And why dedicated network connections offered by service providers should assist greatly in removing these fears.

Whether you’re large or small, you may, with the constant flow of information, slowly lean towards having a presence in the cloud. Depending on how much risk you wish to expose your business to, you may wish to consider using the stepping stone approach, leveraging a hybrid cloud-computing environment to gain experience, and to work out unforeseen operational issues.

To that end, the hybrid cloud is considered the best choice, allowing companies to retain some Intellectual property and digital resources in-house while relegating other resources to a cloud-service provider. With this approach you have the ability to scale up or scale down as needed, along with knowing your most sensitive digital information is still completely under your control and behind security based defences.

Let’s face it, Security, Data protection, Privacy, and Performance issues are areas of concern for system admins and security managers. Hybrid or not, too many of us, ‘in the cloud’ still means that part of the company's digital assets are on the wrong side of the company's perimeter.

New, yet very much tried and tested, network services might help!

Cloud-service providers are offering private, direct, dedicated connections between the customer's infrastructure and the provider's Points of Presence (PoP), usually multiple locations around the world, and housed in colocation centres. Equinix, CoreSite, Pacnet, Interxion, Datacom, Next DC and Telecity Group are examples of colocation companies used by the cloud-service providers.

Using dedicated connections extends the customer's private infrastructure to the cloud-service provider's network and goes a long way to removing much of the customer's anxiety. Dedicated connections are not new, it's just that cloud-service providers now realise customers are willing to use dedicated connections instead of their normal internet pathway, because doing so buys the following;

  • Dedicated connections mean dedicated bandwidth, no sharing with other customers
  • Bandwidth can be easily increased or decreased to meet customer requirements
  • Consistency and predictability improve, which is often a requirement for latency-sensitive traffic
  • Data travels point to point, eliminating security issues related to traversing the internet

Figure A: Example of dedicated links used for best value performance to a hosted environment that provides business critical applications

Several of the larger cloud-service providers are offering dedicated private connections. Amazon calls its service AWS Direct Connect, and Microsoft named its service Azure ExpressRoute.  (Amazon and Microsoft have been providing their dedicated connection services for a while.) IBM just announced its version called Direct Link, which connects customer networks to IBM's SoftLayer data centres. Where lesser known hosted environments are used it is still possible to order dedicated links from specialist carriers like VPN solutions and thus achieve the same result.

Kris Hampel, CTO for VPN Solutions, said, "The power of a company's private infrastructure and internal applications increases exponentially when they are able to scale out onto the cloud. We have customers ranging from start-ups to enterprises, from SaaS providers to legal institutions that want to do just that."

He added, “Dedicated links help them optimize their workloads and get more value out of their data. They can move both to and from their hosted environment as easily as if our bare metal and virtual servers and storage were part of their local area network."

Perhaps a gentle reminder

Dedicated connections are a well-tested technology; companies serviced by Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) networks are already familiar with them. Those same companies also know direct connections offer a "Primary and Protected" path between the PoP and the customer's network. This feature of dedicated connections markedly improves redundancy, and importantly, security of the data.