Integrated Networks Will See Cloud Go Sky High


The shift from internet-based to integrated networks will act as a catalyst for cloud growth says Flexiant’s Tony Lucas

We’re about to see a shift – a tipping point in the way customers access cloud services. Although there is a great deal of talk about companies ‘bursting’ to the cloud whenever they need extra capacity, in reality, there has been little mention of the fact that it’s actually quite difficult to do.

Transferring data and applications back and forth over the internet is cumbersome and to date has been holding things back. Now, however, I believe we’re about to see a rapid move towards direct connections into data centres with a corresponding rise in cloud use in general.

Integrated Networks

For such a fast moving, supposedly agile industry, IT provision can be actually quite slow to change its ways. New technologies may become available but don’t tend to take off until the market hits a sudden point of awareness and then everything changes.

The recent launch by Amazon of its AWS Direct Connect service is a case in point. Instead of using the internet to connect to its services, Amazon is offering clients a dedicated network connection to shift data and applications between their own data centres and those of AWS. It’s faster, cheaper and more reliable and it’s starting to make people think about what integrated networks can do.

Exploding Markets

Actually, the technology behind it all is not that new. Suppliers, including Flexiant, have been offering similar services since 2009 but they simply haven’t taken off. It takes a new development from a big company such as Amazon to jolt the market into thinking differently.

I really believe the market is about to explode. If the use of direct connects or other integrated network solutions doesn’t go through a 1000 percent growth rate during the next five years, I’ll be astonished.

Admittedly, that’s actually quite a safe bet, given the low numbers at the moment, but within five years, most enterprises over,200 employees will be connecting to the cloud that way and the cloud will simply be part of their server estate.

To be fair though, it won’t be entirely down to products such as Amazon’s AWS Direct Connect. The shift in the market is also taking place as a result of other major developments helping to kick-start this change.

Get Connected

Firstly, connectivity’s getting cheap enough and good enough to make it viable. The other day I saw an offer of a gigabit-per-second connection, (which is approximately 200 times faster than broadband) for less than £1000 a month. That’s in London, certainly, but even in Edinburgh you can get a 100 megabit connection for approximately £400 per month.  Faster, cheaper connectivity is definitely enabling the change to direct connection become more possible.

And secondly, AWS Direct Connect isn’t the only new tool being developed – many other service providers have been working in this area, and application developers like CohesiveFT & Cloudswitch are building solutions for companies to achieve integrated networks without direct connections.

In addition, the work being done on VXLAN (virtual extensible local area network) is likely to have a big impact on the uptake of integrated networks too.  The proposed new technology will allow layer 2 over layer 3 connections, similar to a VPN but more flexible in what it is able to connect to.

Industry heavyweights

The project is being backed by a strong group of industry heavyweights such as VMware, Cisco, Arista, Broadcom, Citrix and Red Hat and responses from across the industry have been fairly positive since the group launched a draft framework last month.

There is no doubt in my mind, that integrated networks into cloud services are about to take off. The technology and the connection speeds are there and we are really going to see some big changes in the coming year. Treating the cloud as just another part of your network and ‘bursting’ to it whenever you need it will become the norm.

This is good news for users and great news for service providers as I think we are going to see exponential growth in the number of companies using external data centres on demand. It’s an exciting time to be involved in cloud and definitely the time to ‘get connected’.

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