Do you know where your applications are? If your first thought was, “in the cloud, duh” you aren’t wrong – but just because applications are hosted in the cloud does not mean that they don’t have physical locations. Services like Microsoft Office 365 leverage a distributed, global footprint to deliver resources to end users. For one-way consumption of content that can be cached in a CDN closer to the end user, this model is perfect. But for critical applications requiring database and compute, the farther that app location is from your office or end user, the harder it is to guarantee optimized performance. Let’s break down the options for using internet for cloud connectivity.

1. Centralized Data Centers 

The traditional enterprise footprint has 1 or 2 data centers that they are generally backhauling traffic to for a variety of reasons. As an example, US offices will route traffic through the closest data center, and from the data center it will go to the application location. That’s how most enterprises have always done it, and it eliminates so many compliance concerns by running all traffic through a centralized security stack. But, as shown by the map below, it doesn’t always make sense to take your data further away from the SaaS application or end user it is trying to reach. If you have a branch office in Montana and data centers on the coast, that pathway gets longer and longer. 

US Topography with all office traffic going through 2 Data Centers and then on to applications

But more and more, branch offices and concentrated user locations are leveraging the internet to access cloud applications directly.

2. Decentralized Internet connections

US Topography with all office traffic going directly to applications over public internet

Unfortunately, performance and security are sacrificed. The internet is 80% consumer video traffic (your traffic doesn’t have a chance against Netflix). Plus, without that centralized security stack we mentioned, many enterprises understandably have data protection concerns. 

3. Communication Hubs

As such, we believe it makes sense to establish Communication Hubs to get closer to the Cloud Providers, leverage the internet where appropriate, and implement a more flexible and scalable WAN. In How to Use the Internet for Cloud Connectivity Without Performance Disasters, Gartner states “deploying network functionality in such hubs in strategic locations has several advantages, because it enables the ability to route traffic along other routes than those preferred by the local ISP. These hubs locations can be used to host security functionality, instead of deploying full security stacks in all branch offices. They can be used to deliver an agile interconnect platform to cloud services, mobile users, partners and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.” Further, according to Gartner, “Although this approach is out of reach for many enterprises that lack in-house resources, it is possible to source such functionality via network service providers.” (spoiler: that’s our recommendation as well!)

Source: Gartner, How to Use the Internet for Cloud Connectivity Without Performance Disasters, July 2019

But to us, the question is where… and how? If they want to connect with the cloud, they should probably look at where those key cloud providers are. So, definitely have a hub near Salesforce, right?  Everybody has Salesforce. So we should probably be close to those locations:

So again… where, and how? Do I need to be everywhere? Do I need to do all of this myself? 

Nope …. we believe there are a few providers that have created an Internet Overlay Network that utilizes an over-the-top core hub overlay to connect to the internet with guaranteed SLAs and optimized routing. See Gartner graphic below:

 Source: Gartner, How to Use the Internet for Cloud Connectivity Without Performance Disasters, July 2019

Our interpreted benefits of this “Over-the-Top Internet Services” overlay model:

Apcela was included as a provider for Over-the-Top Services in the Gartner report How to Use the Internet for Cloud Connectivity Without Performance Disasters.

As an overlay provider, we know that we can provide a range of services and network functions that can be sourced directly from our hubs. Plus, the hub overlay means that providers can have locations closer to end users and SaaS applications. Just check out our map:

Wow, look at that high speed back bone! Plus, the number of AppHUBs distributed across the nation make the connections from branch offices to their end user locations so much closer.

US Topography with all office traffic going to nearby AppHUBs with direct connects to application locations

Check out everywhere we are:

Apcela Global AppHUB Delivery Platform Map

We love working with enterprises to map their apps and understand the blueprint of their operations. We’ll create a custom solution that works for you. Don’t believe us? Check out the below map we made for one of our customers in the healthcare transportation industry:

Customer Use Case

Interested in mapping your own apps? Contact us to learn more.

References

Gartner, “How to Use the Internet for Cloud Connectivity Without Performance Disasters,” Bjarne Much and Padraig Byrne, 17 July 2019. 

Subscribers can access the report here: https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/3947521/how-to-use-the-internet-for-cloud-connectivity-without-p

Join the team of Apcela experts on September 5th at 12pm EST to learn more about how Geography impacts network and application performance.

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