Are You Rethinking Cloud Network Access?
Are you still worried about your cloud resources network security? Is accessing your SaaS customer relationship management system over the Internet just not reliable enough to meet your required customer service level agreements and business objectives? We all know public cloud services—love them or hate them—have some glaring network, security, and reliability deficiencies.
Just think about AWS regions—Amazon’s attempt to address system reliability and high availability—with its decidedly mixed results. In the past year or so several cloud providers, including Amazon, have quietly rolled out alternate network connectivity services that might, or might not, fit the growing pressure from customers for end-to-end reliability for cloud services.
First announced in August 2011, the AWS Direct Connect program allows companies to access Amazon’s cloud services through third party private network connections, either by purchasing dedicated network connections through AWS Partner Network Partners or more commonly by accessing the Amazon services using the partners’ shared private MPLS networks. A steady but growing number of telecommunications service providers have been signing up as partners.
Until the data center peering company Equinix and Japanese Telecom companies—NTT Communications and Softbank—joined the program, the list of partners seemed more a random assortment of third string telecommunications players than a robust network of global providers. Notably absent from the list are the biggest global telecommunications giants, such as Deutsche Telekom, AT&T, and Verizon.
A few companies have announced some interesting portal offerings that promise to allow users to order network connectivity by simply clicking on a few dropdown menus. TW Telecom demonstrated a prototype of its Constellation platform at Cloud Expo in June 2013 but has been strangely silent about it since.
Another interesting take is Arkaya’s Network as a Service, which seems to be an offshoot of its main WAN optimization product. Expect to see more of these types of applications in the near future, but do not underestimate the difficulties of automating the integration of network and infrastructure provisioning across disparate companies and networks.
The IaaS providers are starting to make these offerings available as a way to gain access to new markets that have been closed off to them due to security and reliability concerns. The SaaS providers have not even started to address the problem in any meaningful way. Their flexible per seat licensing model and shared services architectures make it that much harder to build viable private network access enterprise solutions.
As a customer, if you are waiting for Nirvana—when ordering network, computing, and storage resources is as easy and as fast as ordering a burger at Wendy’s—none of these programs is anywhere close to that ideal. While the telecoms and cloud services companies work out the kinks, if security and reliability issues are holding back your cloud services adoption, take advantage of these programs that do provide at least a partial solution.