Connecting Multiple Enterprise Clouds

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Most enterprises have come to realize that they are not on the cloud, but on many clouds.

This is both an opportunity and a challenge. A distributed architecture is more resilient to failure and can often deliver services to users faster than a centralized infrastructure. But achieving this requires the enterprise to take a closer look not only at the connectivity between office and cloud, but also between cloud and cloud.

This is giving rise to a new concept that Bill Norton, vice president of research at interconnection software developer IIX Inc., calls “interclouding”. As he explained recently to Silicon Angle, interclouding refers to the network connectivity between clouds and the means to make it efficient, reliable and inexpensive. Some may argue that it shouldn’t matter to the enterprise how their cloud providers interact, but the reality is that when corporate data is on the line, there is a big difference between the open, public internet and a secure VPN.

IIX is working to make this “replatforming of the Internet” as simple as a few mouse clicks, or perhaps entirely automated, through its new Console Inc. subsidiary. The company has devised a SaaS-based approach to forging direct connections between disparate datacenters without using the public Internet. Ideally, the service would allow organizations to provide a common network for customers, vendors, partners and other groups, enabling a high degree of visibility while at the same time avoiding the congestion and security risks that are inherent on public resources.

Meanwhile, a company called Aviatrix is drawing venture capital for its plan to create elastic hybrid clouds by connecting to multiple AWS and Azure instances without the need for additional networking. The system will enable individuals to connect directly to the cloud without tying up corporate VPNs and allow software developers to migrate on-premises apps to single-tenant SaaS platforms in the cloud. One key advantage is that Aviatrix connectivity is as disposable as virtual compute and storage services, so networking costs can be made to match workloads more closely.

The problem with many advanced networking solutions, however, is that it is difficult to make them accessible to large numbers of users quickly and efficiently. But an open-source development community called CloudRouter may have a solution, says ITBE’s Mike Vizard. The idea is to connect multiple clouds via a software-defined network using standard x86 servers rather than proprietary networking gear. The system would tie directly to the Open Network Operating System (ONOS) currently being developed for carrier-level networks, as well as the Open Daylight project that focuses largely on the enterprise.  

The results of this level of inter-cloud activity are already starting to emerge. Integrated computing environments are popping up on a geographic scale, much the same way the LAN distributed basic processing, storage and networking from the PC to the datacenter. Clusters of virtual resources are routinely housed across town and across continents as the enterprise seeks to push data closer to users and customers.

Networking is all about overcoming vast distances, whether we are talking about roads, air routes or telecommunications. Improving the connectivity between providers will turn the cloud from a collection of pieces to an integrated data ecosystem capable of handling all manner of next-generation applications and services.

For good or for ill, it will also bring the world a little closer together.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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