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John Keller

Director, Product Management of Comcast Business

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Direct Connect to the Cloud: When Nothing Less Than 100% Will Do

July 20, 2016

There is no question that cloud-based services offer tremendous resources and benefits.

There is no question that cloud-based services offer tremendous resources and benefits, and enterprises continue to turn to them for a growing range of applications. Cloud-based applications help make business operations more efficient, provide flexibility and ease of use, manage costs and increase scalability. Yet, especially for business-critical applications, there is still concern over moving sensitive data from the enterprise to third-party cloud services providers, with security and loss of control topping the list.

One common source of concern involves the connection from the enterprise to the cloud, which could be via the public Internet, a private, direct connection or a combination of the two. Direct-connect solutions may offer an increasingly popular choice for enterprises, especially for business-critical applications.

Clearly, there are benefits to connecting over the Internet. Its ubiquity allows anyone with an Internet connection to connect to cloud services. It provides quick provisioning and, often, flexible pricing.

Yet the very nature of the public Internet’s architecture exposes it to security vulnerabilities. The interconnection of many different networks can result in data breaches and unwelcome, potentially damaging intrusions. For example, the same open nature of its packet-switch protocol that has fueled the proliferation of valuable, high-bandwidth broadband services can also mean denial of service (DDoS) attacks, causing major disruptions.

Many business and IT leaders are not willing to take the chance of exposing sensitive data or losing access to it due to any disruption. Nothing less than 100% accessibility will do.

To mitigate such concerns, there is the option of directly connecting enterprise networks to their cloud service providers’ data centers for secure, high-performance, scalable solutions that come with service level agreements (SLAs). There are options that offer direct, or private connections, and recent research shows that many large enterprise organizations are using Internet, private connections or a combination of the two.

A 2014 UBM Tech survey revealed that among enterprise organizations already using private, direct connections, 59 percent are using legacy private lines, with 37 percent using Layer 3 VPN and 34 percent using Carrier Ethernet. The survey’s resulting study reported, “The use of fiber-based Carrier Ethernet services is quite consistent among respondents from larger and mid-sized enterprises with more than 100 employees and for connecting remote office locations and branches to cloud data centers.”

The Bottom Line: Internet or Private, Direct Connections?

There are benefits to both methods of connecting enterprise networks with cloud data centers. Internet connections are readily available just about everywhere, so anyone can gain cloud access easily. For many non-sensitive applications, Internet connection is a viable option, and one that many businesses choose, even with their concerns about security and control.

For highly sensitive, critical business applications, direct connections can offer greater security and reliability, better performance and control. And the fact that they come with SLAs is an added bonus.

Perhaps the right solution is somewhere in the middle.

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