Three in five large enterprises have already adopted some form of cloud, according to our recent survey. However, there are a number of different cloud deployments an enterprise can adopt depending on their needs for control, security, flexibility, agility, or cost. To deliver the apps, services, and other technologies needed by the enterprise, the cloud infrastructure must align with the organization’s strategic needs.
For example, a financial institution may need to rapidly develop online and mobile banking applications, while a healthcare provider may need to ensure highly reliable access to millions of patient records. A large manufacturing firm may instead need stronger storage capabilities to track suppliers, finished goods, and distribution. Each possible scenario implies a different approach to the cloud and how they are connected.
If a large enterprise is dealing with highly sensitive data, such as customer information, health records or transaction data, they will likely select a private cloud deployment. Private clouds benefit from increased control and security because the enterprise owns the data centers as well as the data center interconnect solutions that connect them. In this type of deployment, the primary data center is connected by a private network to a secondary data center nearby, and sometimes a third data center in another area to address business continuity and disaster recovery.
To maximize the effectiveness of this strategy, localized data centers can be connected with a high-speed, low latency optical network to support time sensitive applications, while backup data centers located in different geographic regions can use IP/optical networks to support data backup and recovery with lower requirements for speed and latency.
Virtual private clouds
If an enterprise wants to expand their private cloud, they can add data center resources from a third party. This is known as a virtual private cloud. The private cloud connects securely to the third party data center through the enterprise’s own interconnect network, or through a managed service. This saves costs by allowing the enterprise to install and manage their own compute, storage and network assets while paying for the space and power they use, or to simply lease the resources from the third party provider.
A large enterprise would use this strategy when looking to increase agility and reduce capital expenses since there is less upfront investment needed. To maximize this, the network must optimize the workload and be able to allocate resources when and where they are required, regardless of where the data center is and who owns it.
Public and hybrid clouds
For less sensitive data or non-critical applications, a large enterprise can further augment their cloud with a public cloud solution. A public cloud, offered by cloud provider, gives enterprises more flexibility and lowers upfront costs by only charging based on the resources and services consumed. However, it offers significantly less control and security than other deployments. Most enterprises combine their public and private clouds into a hybrid cloud, allowing them to optimize resources depending on the requirements of the data.
Typically an enterprise can either use a managed service or simply use the Internet to access the public cloud. For a hybrid strategy to work, resources must be moved across the private-public cloud boundary to meet changing workloads and permit the seamless expansion and contraction of resources.
The enterprise’s cloud strategy depends on a variety of different business needs. It also influences the requirements to connect these data centers together. Connecting networks traditionally focused on bandwidth and latency to ensure business continuity and disaster recovery. These are still important functions, but the move to the cloud further complicates the requirements.
Connections between data centers must be scalable and flexible enough to adapt to changing bandwidth requirements and optimize workloads. They must be able to share data, distribute applications and balance workloads across multiple sites and technologies while still achieving high performance. And they must be agile and dynamic enough to orchestrate network resources across cloud boundaries quickly and easily. With the move to the cloud, enterprises can choose between a private, virtual private, or hybrid cloud deployment but must ensure the connecting technology aligns with their business needs.