Variety and diversity are essential in all aspects of life, and this principle extends to the technological landscape. In the contemporary business world, it has become imprudent to centralise data storage and processing within a single data centre, leading to the widespread embrace of cloud solutions. However, even the use of cloud services can introduce risks when an organisation heavily depends on a solitary provider. To mitigate this concentration risk, a strategic approach involves intelligently interlinking multiple cloud providers with low-latency connections, ensuring smooth cloud-to-cloud communication. This approach, coupled with distributed infrastructure, bolsters operational resilience. To truly secure a company’s data flows to and from the cloud, it’s vital to consider the method of connecting to cloud resources, emphasising the importance of a diversified and well-connected cloud strategy.
The cloud has become an indispensable element for the seamless operation of modern businesses, with employees now relying on over 30 cloud-based applications and numerous cloud processes within each company. This transition eliminates the need for substantial capital investment in IT resources and enables scalable infrastructure to match organizational requirements. It empowers a mobile and geographically dispersed workforce, offering continuous access to data and resources, as well as integration with cutting-edge AI and analytics tools. The adoption of a multi-cloud approach accelerates processes and revenue potential by selecting the best-in-class services for specific use cases. Furthermore, cloud solutions have become the linchpin of business continuity and disaster recovery strategies, ensuring 24/7 accessibility regardless of on-site incidents or outages.
While security was once a concern for companies migrating to the cloud, most organizations are now confident the tools and processes implemented in cloud infrastructure can deliver robust protection. However, multi-cloud environments in many companies are still the result of accidents and shadow IT. One result of this is that, even if the IT Administrator manages compliance and visibility of security within each cloud environment, the connectivity to and between the clouds is often neglected.
Enhancing Security with Direct Cloud Connectivity, Bypassing the Public Internet
In even the most advanced cloud markets and cloud-native enterprises, cloud access commonly occurs through the public Internet, which brings forth a host of drawbacks. These encompass not only performance and reliability issues for cloud-based applications but also concerns regarding the security of data during transit. However, this risk can be mitigated by opting for an alternative approach. Companies have the option to directly interconnect their network with the cloud networks through a Cloud Exchange. This approach reduces the distance data must traverse, thereby boosting the speed, performance, and reliability of cloud applications. Additionally, it heightens data security during transmission between the company network and the cloud network by governing the specific data pathway and bypassing the vulnerabilities associated with the public Internet.
Cloud Concentration: A Threat to Business Continuity
While it may seem convenient to centralize all workloads, databases, and applications within a single cloud environment, global strategists and regulators are increasingly recognizing the risks associated with cloud concentration. This concentration, despite the advantages of cloud infrastructure, can lead to a potential single point of failure. In such a scenario, a disruption like an outage or cyber-attack on a single cloud provider could result in significant business disruptions, rendering a company unable to continue its operations. Although there are methods to mitigate this risk through strategies like distributed computing and diversifying within a single cloud environment, a more effective approach involves focusing on the operational resilience of digital infrastructure.
Ensuring resilient connectivity to and between cloud service providers has often been neglected in previous strategies, yet it is crucial for rapid service recovery in the event of any disruption. Mitigating the risk of cloud concentration goes beyond merely using multiple clouds; it necessitates the ability to access these clouds from geographically independent data centre locations through physically distinct, non-overlapping data lines. Diversification, not only among cloud providers but also within network and data centre operators, offers the highest level of resilience against potential incidents. This process can be streamlined by employing a distributed Cloud Exchange and interconnection platform, effectively mitigating the risk of disruptions, whether they impact a cloud, a network, or a data centre.
Optimizing Multi-Cloud Environments via Inter-Cloud Communication
Although adopting multiple clouds is a valuable strategy, it doesn’t inherently solve all the challenges of a multi-cloud environment. Data portability issues can result in certain workloads and applications being isolated on individual clouds. Moreover, some proprietary applications, such as specific AI tools, may only be accessible through specific providers. To address these concerns, the next step is to establish interoperability and direct connections among all cloud environments and their associated applications, enabling the seamless synchronization of data and outcomes across a diverse range of operators. The optimal approach here is to implement a cloud routing service on a Cloud Exchange and interconnection platform, facilitating direct interconnection between selected clouds. This method offers several advantages over the traditional approach of individually connecting to each cloud, as data can be efficiently synchronized between clouds directly on the interconnection platform, bypassing the lengthy and costly route through a company’s own infrastructure. Applications and data can function as if they are within a single cloud environment, ensuring minimal latency and seamless interaction. Consequently, this approach streamlines and reinforces various critical functions, including business continuity and disaster recovery strategies.
This underscores the need for a comprehensive strategic plan to manage multi-cloud environments effectively and securely, spanning the selection of services and providers to the methodologies used for access and interconnection.
Simplified Implementation of a Robust Multi-Provider Strategy
Streamlining a resilient multi-provider strategy becomes straightforward with the use of a carrier and data center-neutral interconnection platform. This platform provides access to a wide range of not only cloud providers but also connectivity providers, network operators, and data centre operators, allowing for the creation of a geographically diverse and robust infrastructure. For instance, an organization can establish redundant connections, preferably through different network providers, to multiple cloud services from physically separate data centre locations. Additionally, they can remotely integrate on-ramps from various cloud regions to enhance resilience. High-speed and dependable connectivity between these clouds and on-premise infrastructure can be established for data sharing and backup purposes, all manageable through the interconnection platform’s portal and API.
The architecture of a high-performance distributed interconnection platform, like those operated by entities such as DE-CIX, serves as a macro-level model for achieving geographical distribution, diversity, and redundancy – principles I advocate for in the design of critical-use enterprise-owned digital infrastructure. While such an interconnection platform may appear as a unified entity to external observers, when designed in adherence to best practices, it comprises a multitude of redundantly implemented servers, services, software, and other components distributed across multiple locations. It relies on the services of numerous infrastructure providers, significantly bolstering connection resilience and ensuring uninterrupted access to critical data, regardless of localized incidents.
The key to performance and resilience
If diversity adds zest to life, then in the realm of cloud strategy, it is multi-cloud that brings the flavour. However, the true essence of optimal performance and resilience lies in the amalgamation of diverse cloud platforms, data centres, and network carriers, coupled with a robust redundancy system integrated across all facets of infrastructure and service providers. This is the recipe for ensuring top-notch performance and resilience for critical data pathways, data storage, and workloads.