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Data Center Networking and Cloud Connectivity Options

July 31, 2015

Several service providers are currently jockeying for a leadership position in data center networking and cloud connectivity.

By Berge Ayvazian

Berge Ayvazian joined UBM Tech as a senior consultant on the Heavy Reading team in 2011, following more than 20 years as a senior telecom industry analyst and strategy consultant with Yankee Group, where he served as CEO, CRO, and CSO. Ayvazian has been a regular contributor of analyst notes, white papers, and webcasts for Light Reading, and he now contributes to the custom research, consulting, publishing, and conference programs through UBM Tech’s Create division. He conducts custom research and consulting projects on the convergence of broadband and mobility, cloud and enterprise applications and networks.

Several service providers are currently jockeying for a leadership position in data center networking and cloud connectivity to help enterprise customers unlock the full potential of enterprise cloud computing. Making the right choice involves understanding the tradeoffs of the available options for robust, reliable, scalable, and secure networking.

Public Internet connections. Some smaller enterprises rely on public Internet connections to their cloud-based applications in remote data centers. Although economical, this approach is not scalable, reliable, or secure and is generally not suited for today’s highly distributed cloud networks.

Traditional T1 and DS3 private line connections. Legacy private lines from traditional telcos offer more security than public Internet connections, but they aren’t scalable, and dedicated point-to-point circuits are not flexible enough for rapidly growing cloud services traffic.

Layer 3 VPN. Traditional VPNs use the public Internet with additional IPsec or SSL security, relying on network authentication and encryption provisions to deliver secure, value-added network services. But VPN-based data center connections that use the public Internet may experience issues regarding the consistency and reliability of network throughput. Layer 3 VPNs use a more scalable and secure, peer-to-peer model over any existing network infrastructure such as IP, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), Frame Relay, or Ethernet to offer value-added services like Quality of Service (QoS).

Dark fiber. Local exchange carriers (LECs) provide these services to allow their largest enterprise customers to provision ultra-high bandwidth optical transmission capacity between their locations and remote data centers. Dark fiber’s low cost is very appealing, but it’s only one component of a total service. Customers are responsible for maintaining equipment on the ends, including trouble shooting and repair. So, dark fiber isn’t a good option for companies that aren’t prepared to be their own service providers.

Carrier Ethernet. Simple, reliable, efficient, scalable, and flexible enhanced fiber optic services that provide high-bandwidth dedicated Internet, point-to-point, and multipoint private line connectivity, carrier Ethernet is best suited for mid-market organizations (or larger) that require high-performance connectivity to remote data centers for latency-intolerant, mission-critical cloud applications.

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