Have you ever gotten stuck at work on the last day before a holiday weekend and then tried to navigate the interstate at rush hour? The highway doesn’t care how much of a rush you are in. Your Honda Odyssey sits in the same traffic behind the wide-load convoy and the 1984 Ford Tempo (with his blinker on for the last 30 minutes) just like everybody else.  

Similarly, the internet cannot differentiate the importance of your enterprise traffic. Business critical applications running in the cloud? Great, just hold on while we finish streaming 200 million hours of cat videos.  

The amount of traffic that the enterprise is competing with is staggering with more on the way. By 2021, up to 80% of internet traffic will be video, with 1.9 billion users watching 3 trillion minutes of video per month.1 It’s no surprise that enterprises are dealing more with increased latency and poor performance on traffic destined for mission and business critical, cloud applications.

All network traffic is not created equal 

Just as the ambulance racing to arrive on scene should take priority over other cars on the road, some enterprise traffic is more important than others. Today, digitally transforming CIOs are segmenting their traffic along 3 classes and letting new, software-defined technologies make their lives easier in managing it all.   

  • Traffic Bucket #1. General Internet Traffic. The first class is general internet research and web browsing. Think of the employee reading ESPN injury reports to make decisions on this week’s fantasy line-up.  
  • Traffic Bucket #2.  Critical Services in the Data Center. The next class is the mission and business critical traffic still destined for the premise-based data center. Traffic here is important to the business so high performance is critical. Despite the headlines of the cloud-first enterprise, the reality is that most organizations are still in the early days of their cloud strategies. While upwards of 90% of enterprises have migrated someservice to the cloud, only 20-30% of the applications and workload have actually migrated. 
  • Traffic Bucket #3. Critical Services in the Cloud. The last and fastest growing segment of traffic comes from those critical services that reside in the cloud. This presents the greatest challenge for the CIO as that traffic needs to be fast and secure, just like bucket #2. In other words, an MPLS-like network for the cloud.  

Software-defined:  Waze for you network traffic 

An intelligent, software-defined network enables you to choose the right ‘road’ for your traffic to optimize performance. It’s like Waze but for your network.  

For example, the public internet does a sufficient job in routing general, browsing and data consumption traffic. It also happens to be very inexpensive. Software-defined technology enables you to direct traffic from bucket #1 to these inexpensive, slightly less performing internet connections. Does it matter if it takes Jeannie from accounting a few extra milliseconds to load the latest Money Talkspodcast? Not really.  

After segmenting out bucket #1, a look at the actual, mission and business critical traffic destined for the data center that comprises traffic in bucket #2 becomes much less. As such, CIOs are then able to scale back, or right-size their expensive MPLS connections at those locations.    

Managing Bucket #3:  The cloud services that will shape the enterprise future

The last bucket is where a provider like Apcela fits. The mission and business critical applications from bucket #3 that are now operating in the cloud still need an MPLS-like experience … low-latency, high performance, and secure. But building a global MPLS network to connect with the growing list of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) providers is a massive and time-consuming undertaking.  

Fortunately, a software-defined network architecture enables the CIO to offload the traffic from bucket #3 onto an already built, cloud-optimized network like Apcela’s. This network is everything that the enterprise needs for the critical traffic destined for the cloud: easy entry and exit ramps near existing enterprise locations, a high-speed and low-latency private network, and connections with the Microsoft, Amazon, Salesforce, and Google cloud service providers where the applications are now living.  

Tying it all together

When managed together, the result of leveraging a software-defined network across the three buckets creates a framework for the enterprise to grow. As more applications move from the data center to the cloud, it becomes easy, through software and code, to reduce congestion, increase speed, and improve performance. The CIO no longer has to build a completely new highway. Change happens in minutes and days, not months and years. If only the Department of Transportation had such an incredible tool at their disposal.  

1https://newsroom.cisco.com/press-release-content?type=webcontent&articleId=1853168

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