In today’s digital era, the cloud has revolutionized the way businesses run. Most large businesses are on a journey from premises-based to cloud-based IT (Information Technology), and in many cases have adopted ‘cloud-first’ mandates. As a result, businesses need premises-based resources, data, applications, and often users to connect to the cloud.  

Connecting to the cloud has become an essential part of a modern organization’s cloud-ready Wide Area Network (WAN). According to Gartner1, “To support such rapid adoption, I&O leaders often must connect to cloud service providers (CSPs) quickly and on an unplanned basis, typically by adding incremental internet connections. This can result in suboptimal outcomes in the areas of cost, performance, security, and management.”  

Here we explore the role of private vs. public cloud connections and simplify the options to connect to cloud from the datacenter, WAN, or other private networks and infrastructure. 

What is a Cloud Connection?  

In hybrid cloud environments, where organizations use a combination of on-premises infrastructure and public cloud services, a cloud connection is the network connectivity between these interdependent environments. A cloud connection also enables any range of devices or networks, such as in Internet of Things (IOT) environments, to securely access and interact with remote cloud resources. 

Cloud connectivity is set up through various means, depending on the specific requirements and technologies involved. Here are a three of the primary cloud connectivity types: 

1. Public Internet-based Cloud Connectivity:  

The most prevalent method involves using the public internet to connect to the cloud. Devices or networks connect to the cloud service provider’s infrastructure typically using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN creates a secure and encrypted connection over the public internet. It allows devices or networks to establish a private, dedicated connection to the cloud, enhancing security and privacy.

2. Cloud Direct Connect:  

Most of the large cloud service providers offer a dedicated, private network connection between a customer’s on-premises infrastructure and the cloud service provider’s data centers. These connections bypass the public internet, providing low-latency, high-availability connections that enable you to reliably transfer data with better performance and resiliency. Examples include AWS Direct Connect, Azure Express Route, Google Cloud Interconnect, and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure FastConnect.  

3. Cloud Connect Services:  

A range of third-party networking services provide cloud interconnection via colocation-based cloud hubs, Multiprotocol Lable Switching (MPLS) based extended cloud WAN interconnects, or Software-Defined Cloud Interconnect solutions which all supply some level of private cloud connectivity between two interdependent environments. 

Connecting to the cloud across these three domains enables various use cases, such as data storage and backup, software deployment, virtual machines provisioning, data analysis, and more. They allow users and devices to access cloud-based applications, services, and resources remotely, offering flexibility, scalability, and on-demand access to computing power and storage without the need for significant local infrastructure. 

When connecting to cloud via Public Internet-based Cloud Connectivity, however, Gartner’s analysts noted 1, “Infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders who use the public internet to connect with cloud service providers often report experiencing suboptimal WAN performance.” Gartner went on to report that1, “I&O leaders who rely exclusively on CSP public ports often experience performance and cost challenges, particularly when connecting into CSPs they consider strategic.” 

For these reasons, many enterprises have shied away from public cloud ports and internet connectivity, or they’ve started with public connections for the speed of delivery, but have rapidly migrated to Cloud Direct Connects, typically at the 1Gbps or 10Gbps line rate. This works well for connecting a single datacenter to a single CSP in a single region or two, but adding multiple cloud direct connects across multiple CSPs, data-centers, and regions, rapidly increases cost and complexity, while significantly over-provisioning the necessary bandwidth, leading to suboptimal results. Using a Cloud Connect Service often helps to optimize private cloud connectivity as requirements grow. 

In the end, some combination of public and private connectivity is best based on applications, geography, and use cases. Apcela’s global Arcus Platform supports cloud connectivity across all three domains, and we also integrate Software Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN) at the cloud access points for increased agility, like enabling automation and self-service. This delivers the best performance and cost profile for the business across each use case as they connect premises-based resources and users to the cloud.

  1. Gartner, How to Optimize Network Connectivity into Public Cloud Providers, Refreshed 5 August 2022, Published 19 February 2021, By Lisa Pierce, Danellie Young, Jonathan Forest 

About Apcela 

Apcela provides software-defined, cloud-optimized networks for the digitally transforming enterprise.  Delivered as a service, we enable enterprises to easily deploy and operate a software-defined network and security architecture that was built for a multi-cloud world. 

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Jason Ameris

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