BrandPost: The Cloud Payoff: Ensuring Hybrid Works for Your Enterprise

As more and more enterprises move to hybrid cloud, there are some interesting relationships among enterprises, Internet and cloud exchanges, and colocation providers to satisfy IT strategies through hybrid clouds.  

In its Strategic Roadmap for Data Center Infrastructure, Gartner notes that “by 2019, 80% of enterprises will have an IT strategy that includes multiple Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) providers.” This is up from only 10% in 2015, while “by the end of 2018, 10% of enterprises will close their on-premises data centers entirely.”

Interestingly, this also enables colocation service providers to become a viable option in a cloud-centric world, meeting the needs of cloud-first, Mode 2 enterprises, as outlined in the Gartner report entitled, Four Strategies for Colocation Technology Product Management.

How Are Enterprises Dealing with their DC Needs?

End customers for exchanges — both enterprises and cloud service providers (CSP) —expect agility, in terms of the ability to deploy services rapidly. They also expect stringent service level agreements (SLAs) and operational efficiency. 

According to this report from the IBM Center for Applied Insights, most enterprises believe these benefits will come from hybrid cloud:

  • 7 in 10 respondents believe they will always have a blend of traditional IT and cloud
  • 9 in 10 “front runners” (those who have implemented a hybrid cloud) say hybrid cloud gives them greater ROI than either an all-traditional or all-cloud environment

The report also notes that “improving productivity is the number one goal as companies hope to offload some of their IT resources and management complexity to the cloud.”

But gaining in top-line revenue is also a benefit, as enterprises aim to capture new markets by using hybrid cloud to pivot to new initiatives, such as Internet of Things (IoT).

All of this will deepen the importance of visibility, analytics, and reporting on IXP/CXP networks going forward. The network infrastructure decisions that IXP/CXP make today, and the resulting architectures, must ensure that the business can meet emerging enterprise customer needs.

Providers of all stripes will need low price/port, as well as visibility and automation to reduce CapEx and OpEx. These services need to be able to meet SLAs at all times. 

How Enterprises Evaluate Colocation Facilities

To future-proof your applications, you need high-performance connections to peers or to the cloud. This should also include the ability to dynamically change the number of ports and to optionally receive bandwidth on-demand.

Once basic connectivity and cloud exchange is achieved, you will soon find the need for more services and application workloads (e.g., big data analytics, content, storage, Citrix, email, IP telephony, virtual desktop, and disaster recovery). Often you will need higher bandwidth, perhaps multiple connections at 100 Gbps.

IXP/CXPs can partially fulfill the needs of your applications with a very low cost/port. To further reduce the cost, and manage a high concentration of users and application types, VLAN and VXLAN virtualization at a granular level (per application or service type) is also essential.

Furthermore, each of these application workloads require different service levels. For instance, some may require strict priority, and others may need individualized markings and weighted priorities. Some may need “bursts” of bandwidth or other resources. Here it’s important to remember that not every application workload is going to peak at the same time.

These class-of-service (CoS) levels must be set for each type of workload. For instance, video, unified communications, and back-office applications each require different classifications and attributes.

With many tenants and applications per tenant, the support of these categories needs to be automated. You must ensure that your IXP or CXP can create, delete, and upgrade services per site and per tenant. This avoids the need for huge upfront CapEx. For instance, they may need twice as many servers in busy times as opposed to off-seasons, and will want corresponding business-aligned spend on power, as well as servers and storage.

This issue is illustrated in Figure 1.

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Figure 1: Actual Usage Versus Planned Capacity for Enterprise Data Centers (Source: Global Industry Analysts Inc.)

It is very difficult to match needs exactly, and that’s where outsourcing to a business that specializes in adjusting services to business needs can help. As much as possible, enterprises need to let someone else worry about routing, latency, security, load balancing and all the rest of their IT functions that, while essential, are peripheral to their core business.

Achieving Full Cloud Benefits

To fulfill these requirements, enterprises are increasingly adopting CXPs and IXPs to meet their hybrid cloud and peering needs. CXPs and IXPs must be stable, reliable, and accessible by any network that meets participation requirements. This means always-on stability and the ability to coexist with standard, open and unrestricted interconnection policies.

The goal, after all, is to interconnect as many enterprise businesses and CSPs as possible, with continuous addition of virtualization, visibility, analytics, automation and agility, with required quality per tenant, service or application workload type.

It’s clear that the hybrid IT cloud strategy is here to stay. Gartner underscores this strategy in their Infrastructure Agility Primer for 2017, noting that enterprises that include public CSPs as well as private clouds for their own mission-critical workloads, will gain the highest benefits.

Alan Sardella is a Product Marketing Director at Extreme Networks, responsible for data center and cloud solutions including automation, telemetry and infrastructure.