The more we move to the cloud, the more data we put there and the more data we are are going to need get back from it. Right?
Sounds simple enough. We create data, we consume resources, our data needs to traverse networks, and we need somewhere to store that data. The cloud offers storage cheaper than we can provide for ourselves, so we store our “stuff” in the cloud.
We can switch from giant CapEx costs to predictable OpEx, not have to run as many of our own servers, and only pay for the units of service that we consume? Deploy technical resources from high density data centers at such a massive economic scale that we can compete directly with the hardware manufacturers from whom we purchase our own equipment? Sold!
And, thus, cloud computing was born.
Lease, don’t buy. Pay only for the resources you consume. The business proposition was simple, and a new industry was born.
“With great power, comes great responsibility.”
“The cloud,” as we’ve all come to call it, has helped to usher in the next technical revolution. Over the course of about a decade, we’ve transitioned from corporate-owned data centers being the norm, to an era where you can spin up an entire company’s worth of resources with a few lines of code. From my nerd point of view, cool. 😉
Back to everyone else’s reality, though. At some point, something’s gotta give, right? The cloud cannot possibly be wine and roses all the time. The cloud has to be dependent upon something, does it not?
I give you – Bandwidth. The continual explosion of the internet, bringing more houses, more businesses, and more people online. Smart phones, smart watches, smart lawn mowers and smart houses. The era of the “Internet of Things,” where we now focus not only on how to make the next great thing, but how to make that next great thing interact with all of these other great things that we already have. It’s all possible and, pretty quickly, too, all thanks to “The Cloud” (and the many new technologies that have been inspired by it).
Well, what’s the problem with bandwidth?
The only problem with bandwidth is, even if you have no idea what it is, chances are, you want more of it than you have. The speed and ways in which we connected to the internet five years ago – even one year ago – will no longer suffice. We created this problem upon ourselves, it seems, however, and this time I think we can attribute it to compounding returns on our previous investments.
We like the cloud. We see potential in it. We know it can have huge impacts on our businesses. So, we all bought in. We connected. Each day, we are pushing those limits and connecting more and more. The amount of information that we push from our computer to the cloud, from our phones, our watches, and countless other connected devices to the cloud every minute of every day all relies on the same thing – access to bandwidth.
Let me try an analogy: Bandwidth has become the problem for all of us that “childhood me” thought quicksand would be a daily issue to contend with.
I love bandwidth. I want more of it, and chances are, you feel the same way about yours. Well, guess what? Our devices want more of it, too.
Engineers and future engineers, right now in their minds, are conceptualizing and building the next products, devices and ways we will connect things and ourselves in the future. And all of those engineers want to be able to transmit high quality data across great distances all in the blink of an eye.
What does this have to do with my company’s cloud?
In a nutshell – everything. I guarantee that your company will want to collect some data of their own, or access some data that someone else has collected. Your company is going to want to run servers in the cloud, not only for your core infrastructure, but to connect to more data and new technologies. You are going to want to use cloud storage for “a few things.” The more of the cloud you begin to consume, chances are, the more you will want. The only rub is that you are going to need the connectivity to make that happen.
Why are Peered Cloud Connections important?
At its core, the internet is the world’s largest highway – information or otherwise. There are an infinite number of lanes, each carrying varying loads of traffic. Some of these lanes are analogous to our State and Federal Interstate systems, in that they are available to everyone (with a connection to the internet). Some days there is a lot of traffic in your lanes, so you are forced to go slower. Other days, you may get lucky and move a bit quicker. In nerd parlance, these lanes operate at OSI Layer 3, or as I like to call it the “Wild, Wild West,” where all traffic is passed, and very little is checked and even fewer rules exist.
There are other lanes however, where the real magic happens; there are private lanes that you can buy your way into. The best part about these lanes is that, most of the time, you don’t have to share your lane with anyone else’s traffic. It would be like driving in the same lane from your home to your office, going at your maximum allowable speed, and only having to slow down to make a turn. You arrive at your office and think to yourself, “Now, this is the only way I’m traveling from now on.”
In networking, we call this next state of Nerdvana enlightenment OSI Layer 2. Traffic that travels via Layer 2 you have complete control of – you build the lanes upon which your traffic travels. Layer 2 traffic is network traffic that travels across your routers, switches and cables. You set the speeds, you buy all of the hardware, and most importantly – you control who has access to it.
This is equivalent to the difference between uploading a gigantic video file to your shared server while in the office, versus trying to do the same thing over your VPN from the coffee shop.
Peering your network to your cloud
As we migrate away from traditional, on-premise data centers to the cloud, we have to keep in mind how we are connecting to those cloud resources. Can our critical workloads be trusted to work over our Layer 3 Internet Connections?
If not, you have a problem to solve for. Many internet providers will allow you to purchase a Layer 2 direct connection to many public cloud providers. You can buy the amount of dedicated bandwidth that your applications require, and often scale your bandwidth up as you need to.
If your business has rack space in peered data center spaces, you can also look into private peer connections with other networks that are available in the same data center. Large data centers and Internet Exchanges offer endless peering opportunities, both public and private.
Managing your network architecture
Upgrading networks to keep up with the next generation of traffic – originating locally, originating on a cloud somewhere, originating at the Edge – and then understanding how all of your applications and data should best traverse those topologies requires knowledge and planning. Working with architects and engineers who understand cloud topologies, hybrid architectures and core networking protocols are essential business practices needed to help you deliver to your employees and clients the connectivity that your business needs for success.