Data center services have been emerging as central hubs for organizations making investments in the cloud. Companies can build out private clouds within a colocation environment to take advantage of high-performance power and network resources. Public cloud providers are increasingly housing their configurations in colocation facilities to save on data center construction costs. These factors come together as colocation facilities are built with high-performance network interconnects as a central part of their functionality, making them an ideal connection point between these public and private cloud systems. Software-defined networking technologies are taking this natural fit to another level.
SDN technologies are uniquely suited to providing connections between cloud configurations, particularly as businesses mix-and-match different types of clouds to meet specific needs. Here's how SDNs work:
"SDN technology is redefining the way data center networks operate."
A quick look at SDN solutions
A software-defined network works similarly to server and storage virtualization by abstracting the bandwidth resources within a network from the physical hardware. In practice, this means that the network will be governed by a software controller that will automatically route data intelligently based on preset and flexible prioritization guidelines. This creates a situation in which organizations can flexibly roll out new network links, interconnect multiple cloud systems and ensure that the most important information gets the best performance possible. Furthermore, data packet prioritization can also be used to intelligently identify sensitive or regulated information and carefully control how it moves through the network to ensure it only uses connection options with the necessary controls and protections in place.
SDN technology is redefining the way data center networks operate, making the bandwidth available as valuable as possible. Three ways SDN technologies used within a colocation context pay off for cloud connectivity include:
1. Interconnecting diverse cloud configurations
As businesses invest in a wider range of cloud systems, they must contend with the geographical variety that comes into play with data delivery. Latency can increase when information has to travel over larger distances, something that is further complicated if data packets end up getting dropped because existing networks lack the resources to handle the amount of traffic generated by cloud users. This is especially true as the cloud is generally reliant on network links with extremely limited throughput.
Colocation providers build their facilities relative to the location of prime network hubs that provide links to varied geographical regions in efficient ways. This results in a situation in which geographic routing can be optimized when using a colocation setup, minimizing latency. These inherent colocation benefits are extended when SDN tools are used to prioritize traffic and prevent data packet drops. Robust SDN tools built into colocation networks make these third-party data centers a prime option for cloud connectivity.
2. Maximizing private cloud performance
Virtualization adds a layer of abstraction between hardware resources and the work they need to do, creating potential performance disruptions. This isn't a major problem for everyday apps, but performance-sensitive workloads, such as those a company may put in a specialized private cloud, can require a highly optimized environment to function correctly. Any network disruptions can undermine this already challenging environment, taking away from the potential value creation offered by a private cloud. Implementing a cloud connectivity solution using an SDN allows organizations to prioritize traffic for their high-performance apps and services, ensuring that the limitations of the cloud are minimized for performance-sensitive workloads.
3. Simplifying the infrastructure footprint
Establishing a complex web of network links out to cloud vendors and other third-party data centers can create incredible overhead for IT departments. Cloud connectivity setups working out of a colocation facility can use a single network port for each cloud that it connects with. Furthermore, the SDN technology operating under the surface allows traffic to roll over between connection points, ensuring that there still isn't a single point of failure. Being able to combine simplicity, performance and reliability offers businesses an opportunity to maximize what the cloud has to offer without taking on a major complexity burden.
Colocation and the cloud aligning through connectivity
The network has long played a critical role in supporting enterprise cloud efforts. Businesses operating across multiple locations can become dependent on varied cloud setups, all using different WAN links, to support users. The resulting situation stretches data transit resources thin. Conversely, colocation facilities have been built to move data quickly between different locations, making the service model a prime option for companies that want to ramp up their network capabilities without the high costs of building out infrastructure or making huge WAN upgrades. Cloud-focused connectivity solutions based on SDN functionality are taking these benefits to another level, strengthening the already powerful bond between cloud and colocation services.