Connecting The Cloud: Reaching Maturity

Cloud Maturity

In a previous blog, I outlined the importance of choosing a competent connectivity provider based on the concept of availability. For example, if a provider treats the 99.999% availability figure as purely administrative, issues can arise when non-provider complications occur.

This can have serious repercussions for the end user and they can find it out of their control. To avoid this, search for a connectivity provider that views a ‘five nines’ environment as more than just words on paper. These providers place availability at the core of the networks they source and build. For example, a provider should be able to outline the entire global network topology. If they cannot, continue searching.

Maturity Phases

Most enterprises will be at one of three connectivity maturity phases associated with the cloud. These run in parallel with general IT: internally owned, outsourced and consumable services (a full cloud deployment). In terms of infrastructure, the stages are:

  • Phase 1 – construction and management of internally owned connectivity and data.
  • Phase 2 – connection to co-located/outsourced data centres.
  • Phase 3 – connection to cloud providers with their own data centres.

A common choice is a hybrid setup that utilises a combination of internal facilities and co-location options. The cost, security and control advantages associated with a deployment of this type are many, however it is the third stage that offers the most benefits for businesses looking for corporate agility and the largest financial advantages.

Connecting With Cloud Providers

Migrating data-reliant services completely to the cloud is the final phase in the development of enterprise computing. Cost savings are immediate as utility computing is delivered via a usage-based model and IT consumption takes over from infrastructure investment and management. The big issue is that when connecting to a cloud provider with their own data facilities you depend on their connectivity entirely. In a cloud environment the delivery chain is only as strong as its weakest link, which often emerges to be the provider’s connections.

Some cloud providers recognise the importance of high performance connectivity, but many struggle to invest in their external connectivity. They choose the public internet to function as their network. While it offers significant redundancy advantages, it is often unsuitable for corporate IT delivery. The most effective way to approach this challenge is with a bespoke service level agreement (SLA) from a specialist cloud provider.

Service Level Agreements

Assess the cloud provider’s SLA to be confident that connectivity is being addressed effectively. This includes contractual agreements that include:

  • A responsibility for connectivity and uptime.
  • Global performance guarantees across all points.
  • A variety of connection options aside apart public IP.
  • Ongoing measurement through Quality of Service (QoS).
  • Traffic prioritisation if necessary.

If these considerations are included, you will be in a much stronger position for cloud utilisation. You will be fully supported in your deployment and your business can yield the benefits of cloud services without any of the headaches that can accompany cloud migration. Connectivity is always the most important consideration in corporate IT and the cloud is no different. It may seem attractive and hassle free, but it is only that if the connectivity groundwork is undertaken.

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Anthony is the Chief Operating Officer at Custom Connect, a global provider of carrier-neutral connectivity services. He has over two decades worth of experience in the telecoms, financial IT and trading sectors.