Connecting to Your Cloud Provider – Internet, Direct Connect or Use the IP VPN?

Joel Stradling
Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • There are no real technical differences between cloud connectivity portfolios and traditional data connectivity
  • Public, private and hybrid cloud solutions are supported by different connectivity options from shared to dedicated infrastructure
  • Connectivity is largely provided on-net from operators, but other players such as collocation houses may offer a range of options through third party relations

When considering how to connect your business to cloud solutions, including IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, there are a wide variety of options. If the services can be supported by best-effort, then public Internet with IPSec can suffice with the benefit of a low-cost base. However, a private cloud will give more security and resilience and can be provisioned by your service provider via a break out from a corporate IP/MPLS VPN solution to the carrier’s MPLS network and over an NNI to the cloud provider. That’s assuming of course that a corporate IP VPN solution is already in place, because building one from scratch is not a low-cost route.

There is progress being made by many global operators to put in place interconnections with major cloud providers in order to have NNIs already established, giving a more rapid on-boarding form the client’s VPN to the cloud provider’s solution. In the case of direct connections purchased by the enterprise to the cloud provider’s data centre, this is a partially private solution, because most cloud providers will be opening up their data centre infrastructure to a mixture of private and public Internet. In other words, corporate data may be exposed on the Internet once beyond the direct connect part of the network. Regarding cloud enablement technologies: Ethernet has emerged as the winning interface for the access part from customer to cloud provider or the nearest carrier’s POP followed by over the NNI to cloud provider. Ethernet is also an appealing technology supporting data centre interconnects and metro area networks over fibre for supporting the cloud. However, Ethernet is not always universally available, and leased lines and TDM are still in use in the field. Finally, the connectivity piece does not always have to come from the service provider community, with other providers such as ISPs, colocation providers, data centre owners and carrier neutral exchanges all offering various choices, so it pays to shop around and check for the best cloud connectivity partner.

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