By Rajat Mahajan – Hybrid Cloud Manager, GTT
The pace of societal and economic change over the past six months is like nothing ever experienced before. For businesses within the financial services sector cloud computing has enabled many to pivot quickly despite having to move in many directions of change.
According to research conducted at the end of last year for GTT, businesses expected to increase their cloud spend in 2020. This prediction may well have been surpassed, as COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst for shifting into the cloud. Working remotely has caused people and organisations in countries all over the world to rely on cloud based collaboration services, such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom to remain connected.
Although the surge in cloud adoption boasts of increased digital transformation globally, it has also put more of a strain on enterprise networks that were already stretched prior to the pandemic. To be able to access cloud services securely and efficiently, organisations require a strong, low latency and resilient network infrastructure.
Impacts of hybrid and multi-cloud adoption
With businesses having to respond to the increasing demands of cloud usage, there is a drive to move towards cloud-first models. The market is embracing hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. In a survey of public cloud users by analyst firm Gartner, 81% of respondents worked with two or more public cloud providers.
As businesses look to digitally transform, hybrid cloud provides flexibility and agility, allowing businesses to distribute workloads across both public (hyper-scalers) and on-premise private cloud. As a result, organisations can decide which business applications and systems are managed in the public cloud and which will function in the private cloud based on regulations, policies and practical functionality.
Multi-cloud works as a variant of hybrid cloud, optimising the ability to operate across multiple public clouds, such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and Google. This allows businesses to manage services across a mix of public cloud offerings.
A hybrid approach is often taken to meet regulatory and security needs across different markets and is supported by a need to drive operational efficiencies. However, intentions to adopt hybrid can often be accompanied by confusion around how to make this shift and how to correctly set up the wide area network (WAN) to support the move.
Tackling Future Demand
Given the current climate, and challenges around cloud connectivity, organisations are increasingly thinking about how to manage the underlying network, as they move more towards cloud native applications and away from monolithic, legacy systems. Businesses are trying to understand how to support cloud applications that require greater flexibility, agility and scalability in a secure manner.
The research conducted for GTT showed that 26% of IT decision makers have adopted a hybrid approach to support connectivity to cloud applications, ensuring they have the flexibility to choose the best network infrastructure option for each application.
Optimising the network to support cloud-based applications is fundamental to achieving digital transformation. As organisations migrate from a geographically concentrated data centre architecture to a more dispersed cloud architecture there is a requirement for greater network agility. To efficiently make the switch, a software defined (SD) approach is being embraced. The same research showed 68% of businesses planning to use SD-WAN as part of their future WAN strategies.
SD-WAN makes networks easier to configure so businesses can ensure traffic takes the most direct and low-latency path to mission critical applications. The SD-WAN approach is flexible and can be automated, allowing businesses to do a lot of orchestration which was difficult previously with traditional routing.
A study by Forrester Consulting showed that an enterprise using SD-WAN can generate an ROI of 213% and investment payback period of less than six months. In order to realise the full benefits of SD-WAN without the risk of unpredictable costs and operational complexities, businesses should consider working with a managed service provider (MSP).
Going down a DIY route may seem more cost effective, however, businesses should be mindful of the hidden costs that can arise by choosing the DIY method including infrastructure setup, support and on-going maintenance which can significantly increase the TCO. Turning to a specialist SD-WAN solution provider to design, implement and optimise your service will positively impact the bottom line and save money in the long run.
When SD-WAN is combined with what’s commonly known as a ‘cloud connect’ service, a secure, low latency, low cost private connection that offers direct access to cloud service providers, it helps improve the performance of cloud applications by limiting any networking issues. Through fixed cloud ingress pricing models, data transfer costs are radically reduced, and cloud workloads can be accessed using connectivity that meets flexible bandwidth requirements. Working with a service provider to connect directly into the different cloud providers can take away much of the worry related to potential service degradation for globally dispersed users.
The uptake of the cloud has no end in sight, from the events of this year that have accelerated the move to the cloud for many businesses, to the ongoing shift as organisations rebalance CapEx spending and OpEx models in line with requirements to gain elasticity and scale. As reliance increases, so will the demand for a cloud optimised network that can ensure security, resiliency, flexibility and agility.
For a seamless cloud migration it is crucial to work with the right provider that can offer network expertise, tools and services. Key considerations should include connection and integration with a secure global network, transferring workloads between private and public infrastructures and making the best use of your ICT spend.
Today, there is no denying the importance of secure access and guaranteed performance as businesses adapt to the new way of operating. Now is the time for businesses to prioritise cloud connectivity as an integral part of their network strategy in order to build a strong standing for the future.