How to choose your Software Defined Cloud Interconnect provider

By Alex Hawkes|13 May, 2024

With a growing number of enterprises adopting Software Defined Cloud Interconnects (SDCIs) to better support their hybrid- and multi-cloud architectures, what are the features, functions and capabilities you should look for when choosing your private connectivity partner?

These cloud connectivity providers offer services that simplify the process of establishing and managing connections for hybrid cloud and multi-cloud architectures through:

  • Point-to-point connections from the enterprise location to a cloud service provider's (CSPs) private port
  • Prebuilt, high-speed Layer 2 or Layer 3 connections in shared and colocation data centres and exchanges
  • Private cloud onramps to many CSPs from many locations.
  • Software-Defined Network (SDN) fabrics that, through one physical connection to the SDN fabric enable further connections to multiple CSPs and SaaS provider through virtual local-area network (VLAN) connections, which can be easily managed through a web portal

But there is a lot to consider when selecting a provider of high-performing connections to the cloud for your specific enterprise use cases.

Key differentiators for SDCIs

In its recent research, “Competitive Landscape: Private Cloud Connectivity Services”, Gartner® recommends enterprises consider top level capabilities including:

  • The breadth and depth of connected clouds and SaaS providers and other CSPs
  • Availability of high-capacity Layer 2 and Layer 3 metro, regional and international network backbones and large numbers of Points of Presence (POPs) for dense coverage
  • Local partnerships for service extensions beyond own network reach and presence in hundreds of shared data centres and exchange hubs and in some cases, allowing for extranet connections.
  • Ease of control and visibility through service portals, with cloud routing and cloud networking functionality and specific virtual network function (VNF)-based add-ons

The analyst report breaks these considerations down further into:

1. Flexible commercial offerings and agile service delivery

Network providers must address needs to order, deploy, configure and change cloud connectivity on demand, in an automated fashion and in near-real-time in a way that matches the ‘cloud experience’.

Customers want to rapidly provision new services globally and eliminate procurement headaches, such as rigid pricing and long lead times and service performance visibility.

Software-defined network fabrics provide a programmable framework that enable agile provision and configuration of virtual connections to cloud services to a breadth of cloud services on top of prebuilt infrastructure through automation. Further differentiation is achieved by enabling automation and orchestration of cloud connectivity via third-party provided underlays and multicloud connections.

On-demand service portals provide easy-to-use and intuitive interfaces for self-provision, administration and management functionality, such as changing and deleting connections to public clouds and SaaS applications. Users can also view adjust bandwidth as needed and access self-service analytics with real-time visibility into application performance, SLAs and KPls.

APls enable integration of networking and cloud interconnection self-management functionality with the enterprise's own IT service management tools. The ultimate objective is for the network to respond to the needs of the business proactively, beyond allowing service discovery, ordering and cloud link provisioning.

Commercial models are increasingly aligned with the cloud-like requirements of agility and flexibility.

Learn why Gartner® believes 30% of enterprises will employ an SDCI

2. Enhanced support for cloud-to-cloud use cases

Multi-cloud approaches and distributed applications are shaping demand for secure private cloud connectivity to help simplify the management of complex ecosystems and optimise performance for cloud-based applications and services.

 As a result, demand and competition in private cloud connectivity is now shifting toward managing traffic flows within and between clouds, rather than just delivering access to the cloud.

Although CSPs provide their own networking offerings, these largely focus on solving routing complexity for traffic flows between workloads within their own networks. However, the continued growth of cloud destinations while many legacy applications remain in private clouds and on-premises infrastructures continues to fuel the routing complexity that enterprises must deal with.

More advanced offerings from providers of private cloud connectivity include multi-cloud-specific support through:

  • Cloud networking, which includes cloud traffic routing within the provider's network fabric that improves latency and reduces complexity for multi-cloud environments. Enterprises can use Layer 2 and Layer 3 private networks and a single control panel offered by the service provider to orchestrate and optimize traffic routing between regions within a single cloud provider or across multiple clouds and data centers.
  • Closed user groups enable enterprises to create their own private and dedicated virtual interconnection to other customers on the service provider's platform.
  • Support for edge computing is increasingly incorporated in numerous use cases, including AR/VR, and mixed reality (MR), autonomous vehicles, drone operation, real­ time data analytics and others over the interconnection fabric.

3. Importance of privacy, security and compliance

Increasing cloud design complexity with more mission-critical workloads in hybrid- and multi-cloud environments introduces new challenges and more demanding security requirements.

Typically, communications service providers offer the capability to insert next-generation firewalls as virtual instances in enterprise connections to the cloud. Broader security features, such as URL and application filtering, malware protection, IDS/IPS, data loss prevention (DLP), and increasingly, threat detection and response, can be sourced from communications service providers delivered through virtual appliances in a marketplace mode.

4. Adjacent networking, management and support services

Cloud connections are offered by different types of service providers so they also compete with a diverse variety of adjacent services and capabilities. Beyond ensuring data privacy, integrity and security, some other adjacencies include:

  • Large internet backbones that are directly connected to SaaS, cloud and security service providers, in addition to their own private backbone connecting cloud providers and data centres.
  • End-to-end connectivity support, including a suite of access services that span wired and wireless options
  • Managed service options for cloud connections, as well as for other networking services, such as managed SD-WAN, and bundled security services, which might also be delivered as a managed option.
  • Support for a self-service approach via an intuitive portal is now available from a range of providers.

Some thoughts from Console Connect:

Competition in the SDCI market is heating up, but there are a number of reasons why Console Connect stands out from other providers:

  • Extensive global reach: To all hyperscale cloud providers, including AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud and Oracle Cloud, as well as access to more specialised providers, such as Vultr, Wasabi, OVHcloud and Stackpath. Our cloud ecosystem is always growing and we reach over 55 countries worldwide.
  • Ease of use: Through the Console Connect management portal you can spin up new connections to the cloud whenever you need to and adjust bandwidth to meet the needs of your workloads. You can also introduce greater automation to your workflows by integrating via API.
  • A network you can trust: Unlike other SDCI providers, Console Connect owns the underlying network infrastructure – ensuring you have the best network performance that is backed by carrier-grade SLAs.
  • Fully multi-cloud-enabled: The move to multi-cloud can be complex but our CloudRouter solution ensures your cloud connectivity remains simple. Set up instant virtual connections between multiple cloud providers with CloudRouter.
  • Greater choice: We are making end-to-end cloud connectivity easier for businesses. You can now access the Console Connect platform from your devices, data centres and office locations.

Gartner, Competitive Landscape: Private Cloud Connectivity Services, Gaspar Valdivia, Lisa Pierce, 23 October 2023

GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

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