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Cloud On-Ramps and Their Benefits

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  • Major public cloud providers like AWS and Azure are partnering with colocation providers to offer their shared clients the ability to directly connect their private clouds with their public cloud instances. This offers advantages in security, performance, and cost.

  • Hybrid Cloud Creates A Need

  • As cloud computing becomes increasingly standardized in the global IT world, businesses remain divided in their approaches to this relatively new field. Some opt to maintain their clouds on-premises for enhanced security and speed while accepting substantial overhead and logistical considerations. Others prefer to handle all their computing via public providers that can provide considerable advantages, but may also lead to issues with connectivity, security, cost or speed.

    Many businesses elect to balance their computing resources by blending the two options together into a hybrid cloud. By strategically allocating resources between centralized public cloud providers and colocation or owned data centers, business owners can optimize their returns while simultaneously minimizing the downsides inherent in each approach.

  • A Direct Gateway to Public Cloud

  • Most people and small businesses typically access public clouds through standard internet connections. In the case of consumer-tier services such as iCloud or G Suite, this is adequate for the day-to-day needs of individual users. For more intensive applications, public internet connections may prove too unreliable to meet stricter performance needs. Larger businesses may invest in enterprise-grade fixed broadband solutions, but still have to manage latency as their information travels along the network from their colocation data center to their nearest public cloud region.

    Enter the cloud on-ramp, also known as a cloud exchange. It’s a private direct connection between a business’s IT network and its major public cloud provider of choice, which is possible because cloud providers rent space in the same data centers as their customers. The upsides are both numerous and compelling, enabling users to enjoy a higher overall quality of experience while saving on long-term costs.

  • Greater Security and Reliability

  • Unlike standard cloud access over the internet, private cloud on-ramps are secure from end-to-end. Bypassing the public internet via direct cloud access also safeguards the user from connectivity hiccups, ensuring steadier and more reliable service. This also means that on-ramps users are not paying for internet connections they would otherwise use to access their public cloud instances.

    Colocation partners agree. John Greaves, Chief Technology Officer for colocation provider QTS, described on-ramps as “a rapid and simple interconnection solution that improves performance and significantly lowers costs.”

  • Lower Latency

  • Cloud services can be located anywhere in the world, which can be advantageous. But connecting your private cloud to your public cloud over vast physical distances can introduce unwanted latency—especially troublesome for SaaS providers. Cloud on-ramps provide massive reductions in latency by securing a much closer connection between the user’s network and their chosen cloud service.

  • Increasing Availability

  • Major cloud providers have been expanding their networks by constructing edge nodes at colocation facilities in a growing number of cities. This increased coverage permits them to grant cloud on-ramp options to an extended range of potential clients. “In today’s global digital economy, interconnecting with digital services and customers at the edge—in multiple and often distant locations—is critical,” commented Bob Breynaert, Global Managing Director of Strategic Alliances at colocation provider Equinix, about a recent expansion in 2018.

    So far, AWS Direct Connect, Google Cloud Interconnect and Microsoft ExpressRoute have all expanded widely across North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania, as well as in South Africa and Brazil.

  • Cloud On-Ramp Considerations

  • The first step toward cloud on-ramp adoption is to ensure that one’s chosen colocation facility is properly equipped. On-ramp availability, while spreading, is not yet universal. Customers will need to select their data center accordingly if exchange access is a priority. Once an on-ramp user has decided on a location, there are a few more important choices to make, all of which will define the cloud on-ramp’s parameters, capabilities, and cost.

    Users can configure their connection on either Layer 2 or Layer 3 of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model to receive a 1GB or 10GB port. While higher costs accompany superior performance, some users may conclude that the enhanced capabilities of a 10GB connection are worth the additional expenses.

    As for the port itself, customers again are faced with two options: the standard port or the buyout port. The connections in the standard port are priced individually, each requiring a high rate of traffic. Buyout ports offer an unlimited number of connections and variable speeds, ideal for setups involving a high number of smaller-bandwidth virtual circuits or atypical circuit speeds. Users can perform virtual circuit management via either a web-based portal or APIs for connecting larger volumes.

    The process of upgrading from a standard port to a buyout port is seamless from the perspective of the user, with no downtime experienced. As such, on-ramp customers who have chosen standard ports can upgrade later to buyout ports should their needs change.

  • A Major Win for Hybrid Cloud

  • The ability for a company to directly and privately connect to their public cloud is an incredible development for the entire hybrid cloud ecosystem. Businesses interested in creating or augmenting their hybrid cloud infrastructure have a safer, faster, and more reliable method of bridging the gap between their private clouds and their public computing services.

    In order to take advantage of all that cloud on-ramps can do, customers should ensure the interconnection options available to them are properly configured in each data center. An optimized network is one primed to maximize the ROI of cloud on-ramp connectivity.

    As Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft’s Azure, AWS, and others continue to invest in this next stage of cloud computing, the future of our global hybrid cloud architecture has never looked brighter.

    Find data centers with direct access to your public cloud providers using our data center directory and marketplace or get a free consultation from our advisors to see if cloud on-ramps are right for you.

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