Network integration key to global cloud services

Mike Sapien/Ovum
03 Sep 2014

Cloud services have been available for several years, and any provider of enterprise services (IT or telecom) or hardware is now a cloud service provider. Recently, new services have emerged that offer different versions and types of cloud network integration (CNI) services.

Most cloud services are a collection of networks and cloud services. To perform well, applications require strong integration and bonds between cloud services and related network services. This includes end-user access to the network, as well as network connectivity between the different cloud service resources and vendors.

Any telco that wants to remain strong in enterprise managed services must have a roadmap to CNI.

CNI activity

Telcos have long claimed an advantage in cloud services based on owning the network, but until recently there was little evidence of the benefit network ownership brought to customers. Within the last year, AT&T announced NetBond, a new service with IBM that provides private VPN access to IBM’s cloud data centers. Level 3 Communications and Equinix have announced interconnection with Amazon Web Services.

Verizon has announced Secure Cloud Interconnect, which will provide continuous and secure connections from any corporate network to any data center and any cloud service provider over Verizon Private MPLS. It will operate across a combination of Verizon’s global IP network, Terremark's hosting centers, and the centers of partner Equinix.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Telstra has expanded its intelligent network offer (Application Aware Network), and Pacnet has announced its PEN (Pacnet Enabled Network) to address this need for interconnection and integration with cloud resources and services. This is potentially the most ambitious CNI strategy to date, and other telcos must develop similar plans to marshal global network resources and take greater advantage of cloud services. Cloud providers, systems integrators, and data center operators are all embracing CNI.

It is no surprise that US telcos, with their huge domestic enterprise market, have been the first adopters of CNI. Worldwide, other communications providers must develop intelligent networks and be ready to provide integrated network connectivity for many different cloud services and resources. Networks need to be more than intelligent - they must become application-aware and respond to both applications and end-user performance.

Orange Business Services and Tata Communications have already shown signs of moving toward end-to-end applications across the cloud, and we expect to see these firms innovate strongly in this area. Other telcos, ISPs, and cloud providers that own networks should leverage their resources to follow suit. Claiming that owning the network is an advantage without providing value-added features or concrete benefits to customers is no longer good enough.

During the past two years there has been great focus on public, private, and hybrid clouds. It’s now clear that most providers’ cloud services are really networks of cloud services or 'cloud of clouds' service bundles. Computing, databases, applications, and storage are the basic resources within most enterprise cloud applications that need interconnection by networks.

Some networks exist within the data center, while others extend outside the data center to reach remote resources or users. Multiple networks are required to connect the various cloud resources, magnifying the need for CNI.

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