Connecting clouds: how telcos can make intercloud viable in the multicloud era

On 06-04-2023
Reading time : 4 minutes

Cloud is now a default, go-to tool for businesses that want to succeed and thrive. It enables greater flexibility, agility, cost savings and helps companies mitigate risk. But with more choices of cloud on the table and more companies using more types from more providers, operators need to offer the right kind of connectivity to maximize multicloud performance.

Multicloud has become the cornerstone of many digital business models, with enterprises increasingly leveraging the technology’s flexibility, agility, better risk management, and resilience to drive forward. So it is no surprise that cloud spending continues apace, which presents big opportunities for operators. “It’s likely that in future, cloud will play an increasingly significant role as enterprises continue the shift to a digital-first economy”, says IDC. 

But cloud use is becoming more complex with multiple clouds becoming the norm. Companies typically use a mix of different public clouds and private infrastructure, which makes interconnection and performance optimization increasingly challenging. According to research conducted by CIO magazine, 73% of companies use two public clouds, while 26% use three or more. 

Other research has found that 84% of medium to large-sized companies will have adopted a multi-cloud strategy by the end of 2023, as more and more embrace multicloud’s improved flexibility and security. It’s a trend that shows no sign of slowing down and the cloud computing market is forecast to be worth over $623 billion by the end of this year.

So, enterprises are embracing the advantages of public cloud and reaping the benefits it offers: 

  1. Lower costs and no need for the CAPEX required to purchase hardware or software, then you pay only for the service you use. 
  2. No maintenance, as your cloud service provider takes care of maintenance. 
  3. Near-unlimited scalability, since your provider ensures on-demand resources are available to meet your business requirements as you grow, or contract as needed. 

But multicloud does come with challenges, it is by its nature more complex. “To get the maximum potential from a cloud environment, enterprises must have a robust strategy,” advises IDC. That means having the right foundational cloud resources distributed across platforms and premises, but in such a unified way that allows for consistent governance, policies, and automation across a distributed footprint. Again, there is potential here for ISPs to play a major role.

The rise of intercloud 

Where multicloud uses two or more cloud solutions to manage specific elements of business and data, intercloud takes the process steps further and enables active management of data across multiple cloud environments. 

Intercloud is the concept of connected cloud networks, including public, private, and hybrid clouds. Intercloud enables enterprises to have more than one public cloud from more than one cloud provider communicate directly with one another without needing to go through a central company server. It brings benefits that include lower latency, performance, cost controls, security, reliability and regulatory compliance. 

The challenge of latency-sensitive applications  in the cloud

Some applications only work well with a maximum latency of a few milliseconds or even microseconds. Latency-sensitive applications, according to RedHat, “can be any application where high or variable latency is going to negatively affect the application performance, so operations need to occur within a deterministic window, often measured in microseconds.” For these applications, latency must be steady, and predictable.

Connectivity of multiple clouds is crucial 

The challenge in intercloud, however, is one of connectivity. How do you ensure you have the right connectivity with the requisite quality of service (QoS) between different clouds and according to the needs of corporate and latency-sensitive apps?

With public internet, there are downsides: there are typically no SLAs in place, so the connectivity you get is best effort, which can sometimes mean long paths to connection if network traffic has to pass through several IP transit providers. At the other end of the equation, with private connectivity, you have QoS commitments and SLAs.

The wholesale approach: an integrated private intercloud connectivity solution  

What can be done? Wholesale telecoms providers can offer operators a way forward, with an integrated cloud connectivity approach that delivers end-to-end networks and QoS. This can be achieved by the wholesaler interconnecting with all the various cloud providers across all regions in private connectivity mode, and reselling that connectivity to Tier 2 IP providers.

So, a wholesale telecoms provider can deliver what the majority of operators and ISPs cannot - a dedicated connection between cloud providers. It requires a technical level that not all carriers are able to offer, and an ability to integrate with the various cloud providers and propose an end-to-end network. 

Optimized end-to-end connectivity and quality of service 

This integration means you can connect precisely to the machine where the tier 2 ISP’s B2B customer has its business applications. In effect, it’s like extending fiber connectivity up to a specific apartment in a block rather than just stopping at the entrance to the building.

Because a wholesale provider like Orange Wholesale International has this extensive reach, we are able to optimize traffic flows so that the traffic from one cloud doesn’t have to go through a main site before being redirected to the cloud of another provider. It removes that bump in the road that typically adds unnecessary latency and cannibalizes network bandwidth. Thereby reducing both cost and latency. 

Benefits for enterprises: reduced costs and improved customer experience 

ISPs benefit from potential cost sharing and simplified management, both of which can be passed on to their own B2B customers. It means standalone clouds can work seamlessly as one, letting them deliver a more unified, consistent customer experience (CX) and while also addressing local and regional regulatory requirements. For enterprises, this simplified multicloud connectivity approach gives them reduced complexity, reduced costs, and can enable faster time to market. Intercloud connectivity of multiple clouds looks like a solid way forward for ISPs and operators in the multicloud era.


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