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Cloud Connect Explained | An Introductory Guide

Cloud Connect uses the latest in fibre hardware technology to create a physical link between your network, and the cloud. While most data will travel across the public Internet, Cloud Connect is a dedicated connection between your network and your cloud services. Learn what it is, how it works, why you need it.

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Cloud Network Providers | Connect Your Private Network to the Cloud

Organisations are not limited to only a single cloud network providers solution option. Furthermore, they’re not merely able to access valuable cloud resources via the Internet. We advocate a combination of the solutions below to form a resilient, high-speed, high-availability, hybrid cloud network.

We’ve covered Cloud Connect and Cloud Connectivity Providers previously. Subsequently, a customer asked us to provide an overview of the options that they had available to them. The brief was “How do I connect my private network to my cloud network providers”.

In order to implement a connection from their private network space to their cloud network providers, there were questions we needed to ask:

Will the connection be temporary or permanent?

Temporary connections limit available options because of the potential contractual commitments. These can often be mitigated by utilising existing arrangements if your current suppliers are flexible and technically capable.

What is the capacity required?

If you are moving a large volume of data utilising already hard pressed capacity via the Internet is going to struggle and will impact on existing usage. Bursting capacity for a short period of time may be an option, dependent upon your existing supplier delivery. Serviceteam IT have previously moved very large data volumes (tens of Terabytes) via 10Gbps internet access within our colocation provider.

How resilient does it need to be?

This is of course dependent upon how important access to the data you’ll have with the private cloud network provider. You should already have resilient access to the Internet. Meaning it will be simpler to ensure access to the cloud network provider is equally resilient.

Where will the connection be coming from?

Is the private network located at a fixed office site?

  1. Are there multiple office locations?
  2. How are the multiple office locations connected, physically and logically?
  3. What is the primary leased line from the site? Is it fibre Ethernet?
  4. Does the primary leased line provider support 802.1Q VLANs?
  5. What major data centres, such as Telehouse or Telecity, is the primary leased line provider present in?
  6. What resiliency exists for the leased line?
  7. Who provides the physical connectivity resiliency?
  8. Who manages the physical and logical resiliency?
  9. Is the logical private network resilient, such as failover routes via alternate leased line providers to another site?
  10. What firewall devices are present at the site?
  11. How are they configured, such as High Availability Active/Active?
  12. Are site-to-site licenses available on the devices?
  13. Are there VPN failover policies enabled?
  14. Who manages these devices?
  15. Do the office locations have sufficient internet access capacity?
  16. Is there sufficient fibre Ethernet capacity to upgrade internet access?

Is the private network in a colocation facility?

  1. Are there multiple colocation facilities?
  2. Who provides the network connectivity between the facilities?
  3. Do the colocation providers supply backhaul via 802.1Q VLANs?
  4. What physical and logical connectivity resiliency is in place?
  5. Are the colocation providers supplying Managed Internet Access (MIA)?
  6. How are they connecting you to the internet, such as their own feed or a third party transit provider?
  7. How are the public peering arrangements organised? What are the private peering arrangements?
  8. In which major data centres, such as Telehouse or Telecity, are the colocation providers present in.
  9. What firewall devices are present at the colocation sites?
  10. Who manages the firewall devices?
  11. What edge routers do they operate?

As an aside, we’ve worked with customers who have infrastructure in colocation facilities, where not only has the colocation facility been unable to supply backhaul via 802.1Q VLANs, but also had no internet peering arrangements. They at least had two colocation facilities for resilience!

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

In almost all cases, public cloud services begin via publicly accessible services, such as websites. As organisations become ever increasingly comfortable with public cloud, the practicalities of hosting more business critical information increases. And yet, the security of the information and access to the information remains paramount. An Internet VPN is the first, and arguably the simplest, option. It provides the shortest lead time of all of the options.

Public cloud providers offer VPN appliances, or an option for native VPN through the cloud providers control panel. Device support includes many options from hardware VPN concentrators to OS-based VPN solutions, such as OpenVPN. Cloud network providers will charge for the compute instances hosting the VPN appliance. Bear in mind cloud network providers charge for the bandwidth. Data transferred via a VPN counts against data transfer cost. There are no minimum commitments associated with VPN options. VPN connections to the cloud network provider are most suited to temporary or network failover.

Direct Connectivity

The VPN option limits the ability to offer a consistent experience over a common internet connection. It’s bandwidth you share with user and service access, which can become saturated with high capacity users, or reduce service effectiveness for voice and video. For a far more predictable connection, cloud network providers offer direct private connections via major data centre facilities.

Cloud providers ordinarily partner with large data centre operators. These operators terminate multiple cloud provider networks into their facilities, often via a meet-me room. Other providers rent facilities from these data centre providers, and the data centre provider offers a cross-connect, known as an Xconnect, from the cloud provider’s facilities to customer facilities. This can sometimes involve many parties. For example, if your private network is located in a colocation data centre, you will need to:

Creating your own connection to Cloud Network Providers

  • create a VLAN to the local edge router, lets call it A, of the colocation provider;
  • backhaul via a VLAN to an edge router, lets call it B, of your third party colocation provider in the major data centre provider facility;
  • set-up a cross-connect from edge router B, to the edge router, lets call it C, of the major data centre provider;
  • install a cross-connect from edge router C, to the edge router, lets call it D, of the probable additional cabling provider within the facility;
  • organise a cross-connect from edge router D, to the edge router, lets call it E, of the cloud network provider;
  • enable a Cloud Connect service from edge router E, to the LAN, lets call it F, of the VPC;
  • in each of the steps you will have options for either a port based VLAN or an ID based VLAN, sometimes both, sometimes only one;
  • once all the physical connections have been enabled and tested, then the real fun begins as you have to logically address and apply a routing schema, ordinarily BGP, between your private network and the cloud network provider.

Direct connections generally come in two Ethernet speeds of 1Gbps or 10Gbps. With AWS you then have a CDR, which is carried over the Ethernet capacity, and is a minimum of 10Mbps. The data centre provider charges for the cross connect, while the cloud provider charges for the port, and everyone else charges for backhauls and cabling.

Most cloud providers allow unlimited transfer over direct connect, which brings down the per gigabyte transfer cost. Often the major data centre providers offer shorter terms, such as 1-month commitments. Cross-connects usually carry a 12 month term. Customers can leverage the shorter commitments for short-term projects to transfer lots of data, or to test a new service from a cloud provider.

Connect to Cloud Network Providers with Serviceteam IT

Telco providers are increasingly offering services based on a Cloud Connect model. Capacity (speeds) between 1Gbps and 10Gps are more desirable. Telco providers bundle connectivity to a cloud network provider. More often, these connections are Cloud Connect to the major data centre providers without the complications of cross connects or VLAN type mismatch, robust physical failover and resilience of the route with a cohesive routing schema between the private network to the cloud network provider.

Organisations have a far wider variety of connectivity options. Telco providers can offer Ethernet connection options with MPLS and VPLS to your preferred cloud network provider. This can be delivered as one-to-many, many-to-one or many-to-many. Telco terms don’t always mimic existing WAN commitment lengths, ordinarily 24 or 36 months, as we have contracts with 36 month resilient fibre Ethernet connections and only 12 month Cloud Connect services carried over the resilient fibre Ethernet.

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Cloud Connectivity Providers Explained

Cloud Connectivity: It’s probably safe to say that enterprise, private and hybrid cloud are here to stay. These services have vastly improved the way in which we deliver resources, support new types of users, and create new types of business strategies. Continuing growth in adoption of public services means that even the most risk averse organisations are looking at the many ways to leverage cloud computing environments to help their businesses become much more agile. Spending on cloud network, infrastructure and platform could rise to around $203 billion by 2020, according to the IDC Worldwide Semiannual Public Cloud Services Spending Guide. Admittedly, the same report suggests that only around 5% of total worldwide technology expenditure in 2017, $122 billion, will be cloud related. Some of the rest of the $2.4 trillion will be from traditional in-house delivery, consumers (20%) and tellingly from software (20%). It stands to reason a proportion of the expenditure will be on Cloud Connectivity.

One of the main barriers regarding adoption is security, along with reliability, access and compliance related to data location. These issues raise the perfectly legitimate concern of “How do I create a cloud connectivity strategy that will allow me to leverage my on-premise investment and public architecture?”

What is Cloud Connectivity?

Cloud connectivity enables the interoperability between on-premise resources and public environments. The on-premise environment can be a branch office, the IT services division, a third party data centre with colocated equipment, or a major enterprise data centre. The obvious goal is to create an optimal cloud network strategy, where the business can adjust or scale according to demand whilst increasing security and availability coupled with decreasing expenditure.

Cloud connectivity uses a variety of secure, and high capacity (fast) connections, to enable organisations to integrate with cloud network, storage, compute, and end user environments. The greatest step forward has been the ease of creating these connections and how they can help transform a business. In the past, these connections were made manually and required a lot of know-how and administration. Today, major providers are offering far easier ways to integrate with your resources. Even further back, access to those resources was made available only via the Internet, which is inherently problematic from the perspective of security, availability and capacity. Think of cloud connectivity as the VIP entrance, avoiding traversing the Internet with everyone else.

Cloud Connectivity providers understand that you’ve made significant investment in your on-premise and data centre operations. They know that you’re probably not all that ready to rip everything out and move everything. This is why there have been some major initiatives regarding optimising the way businesses connect into the public cloud. These new solutions enable a far easier way to integrate on-premise resources with powerful cloud services. Ultimately, this helps businesses create faster, more reliable, and far more secure cloud network connections into their services using Cloud Connectivity.

Examples of Cloud Connectivity:

AWS Direct Connect

Amazon Web Services is easily the most popular. They support compliance-based workloads, integrate with complex storage environments, and even provide new types of workload delivery methodologies. More recently, Amazon has made it even easier to connect into its ecosystem without having to attempt to arrange a peering agreement between the customer network and the AWS public cloud network.

AWS Direct Connect enables a dedicated network connection between the customer network and an AWS Direct Connect location. It uses industry standard 802.1q VLANs, so that the dedicated connection can be partitioned into multiple virtual interfaces.. This allows you to use the same connection to access public resources, objects stored in Amazon S3 using public IP address space for example. Along with private resources, such as Amazon EC2 instances running within an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud using private IP address space. All whilst maintaining total network separation between public and private environments. Virtual interfaces can be reconfigured at any time and on the fly in order to meet your changing needs.

This kind of enterprise cloud connectivity comes with very real business benefits:

  • Bandwidth controls regarding cost and delivery
  • Higher Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for consistent cloud network performance
  • Fully integrated with all AWS services
  • Greater levels of business and data centre elasticity

If you’re integrating with an AWS environment, make sure to look at AWS Direct Connect. It allows your organisation to directly align with a specific strategy, which can be an all-encompassing extension into the AWS, or you can use a specific AWS service, such as integrating with Amazon S3 storage. The best part is that Direct Connect helps ease the adoption of your specific use case securely and privately.

Cloud Connectivity: AWS Direct Connect

Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute

Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute allows you to create private connections between Azure data centres and on-premise infrastructure inside your network, be it your data centre or a colocation. Microsoft ExpressRoute connections do not go over the public Internet. The connection architecture allows for far greater reliability, higher capacity (speed), much lower latency, and significantly more security than typical internet connections. Each Microsoft ExpressRoute circuit consists of two connections to two Microsoft Enterprise cloud network edge routers from the cloud connectivity provider and your network edge which requires optional dual BGP connections from the connectivity provider and your network side.

Using ExpressRoute connections to transfer data between on-premise systems and Azure can yield significant cost benefits. For example, you can establish connections to Azure at an ExpressRoute location, such as an exchange provider facility, or directly connect to Azure from your existing WAN network, such as a multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) VPN provided by a network service provider.

There are several benefits to using this type of cloud connectivity:

  • Data centre and services extension
  • Building an ecosystem for hybrid applications
  • Creating an architecture build on auto-scaling and provisioning
  • Integrating Active Directory services across multiple locations

With Microsoft ExpressRoute, you can establish connections to additional Microsoft services, not only Azure. These include services such as Office 365, Skype for Business and CRM Online. Connectivity can be from an any-to-any (IP VPN) network, a point-to-point Ethernet network, a VLAN via Smart Network or a virtual cross-connection through a connectivity provider at a colocation facility.

Cloud Connectivity: Microsoft Azure-ExpressRoute

Google Cloud Interconnect

Google Cloud Interconnect enables you to connect your infrastructure to Google, via enterprise-grade connections to Google’s cloud network edge. The connections are offered by Google Interconnect service providers in order to connect. Google Interconnect will enable your infrastructure to connect to Google Platform Services with higher availability and lower latency connections.

Google Interconnect allows Google Platform Services customers to connect to Google via enterprise-grade connections with higher availability and lower latency than existing Internet connections. Connections are offered by Google Interconnect service provider partners, and offer higher SLAs than standard Internet connections. Google also supports direct connections to its cloud network through direct peering. Customers who cannot meet Google at its peering locations, or do not meet peering requirements, may benefit from Google Interconnect.

The flexibility of the Google Platform with cloud connectivity enables many business benefits:

  • Great for data intensive applications
  • Lower latency access to platform services
  • Reduced cost with up to 50% reduction on Egress pricing
  • Direct peering at over 75 locations in 33 countriles

Google Interconnect links can be used to access any of the Google Platform resources: Google Compute Engine, Google Storage, Google BigQuery, etc. You can even extend your private network into your private Compute Engine network over Google Interconnect links by using a VPN tunnel between the networks.

Oracle FastConnect

FastConnect addresses one of the most important issues that affect migration to a cloud service: the unpredictable nature of the Internet. With FastConnect, you can create a high-speed, dedicated, and low-latency extension that allows you to reap the benefits of a true hybrid setup. It also offers better security than exchanging your data over the Internet.

Oracle Network Service also offers Site-to-Site VPN for Dedicated Compute customers. FastConnect is for all Oracle Cloud customers. Site-to-Site VPN securely extends your on-premises network to your dedicated Oracle Compute zone. FastConnect provides a high bandwidth connection between your data centre and Oracle services.

There are many benefits to FastConnect for cloud connectivity:

  • Get a faster and more secure connection to Oracle
  • Pay less for predictable performance
  • Get a redundant connection, so your traffic can quickly fail over in case of network failures
  • Connect your data centre to Oracle in a few simple clicks

If you are colocated in the same datacenter as Oracle, you can establish connectivity by provisioning direct single mode fibre cross-connects from your datacenter provider. It also offers better security than exchanging your data over the Internet. With FastConnect-Standard Edition, you are connecting your edge routers directly to the Oracle cloud network edge routers in the specific location and establish a BGP peering session directly with Oracle.

HP Enterprise Rapid Connect

HPE Rapid Connect enables you to bypass the public internet when it connects to HPE Helion Managed  Services. The new direct connectivity gives customers access to HPE’s portfolio of services when they need to build and consume computing workloads. It gives businesses more reliable and secure access, better performance and lower latency.

The flexibility of HPE Helion in tandem with Hyoer Converged Appliances is not to be ignored:

  • Great for extension of existing assets
  • Significantly improved latency between cloud network and on-premise
  • On-demand access to compute as an extension
  • Increasing availability at Ingress locations

HPE Helion is a portfolio of software, integrated systems, and services for computing, including distributions of OpenStack® and Cloud Foundry®. HPE Helion makes it easier for you to build, manage, and consume workloads in a hybrid IT environment that includes private and public clouds working in tandem with your on-premises systems.

And Finally . . .

There are many more Cloud Connectivity options, including BlueJeans, Box, Cisco, CSC, IBM, Salesforce, Sungard and VMware. Many of the Tier 1 network providers, whether they be Telecoms or Data Centre, can implement interconnects, known as XConnects, between their cloud network edge routers and your network edge. Additionally backhaul via VLAN through your existing Ethernet Fibre, depending upon provider, will be available.

Serviceteam IT can supply interconnects and backhaul from almost all of the providers, at wholesale rates, and link connections between different carriers and service providers together. Our Smart Network service is the most effective option for connecting.

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Fibre Internet from Serviceteam IT Helps Substrakt Accelerate Ahead

Thanks to an existing customer, BanaBay Limited, giving a whole-hearted recommendation of how we at Serviceteam IT support them, we’ve added another fantastic new customer. We provide BanaBay with IP Telephony, Continuity, Office 365, IT Support and of course Fibre Internet. BanaBay were very gracious, in allowing their potential next door neighbours to assess the quality of the leased line services provided by Serviceteam IT, by enabling secured access for Substrakt to evaluate.

Birmingham, U.K., February 1st, 2017

Midlands-based connectivity specialists Serviceteam IT have secured a lucrative contract to provide a resilient gigabit fibre internet to industry-leading digital design house, Substrakt.

Serviceteam IT, based in Birmingham, landed the contract with Substrakt after delivering a fibre connection in an impressive turnaround time of 26 working days. The contract follows another successful year for the company, which has trebled its client base after three years of consecutive growth. Some of the company’s most notable clients include First Utility, GAB Robins, and Barrhead Travel.

Serviceteam IT attributes its fast turnaround times as the key to its success. “The main advantage we have over our competitors is we deliver fibre internet into an office in around 30 days, which is often half the time of our competitors” said its director Sebastian Jesson-Ward. “We have developed strong relationships with our suppliers and we push them harder to deliver quicker results and address our clients’ needs.”

Mr Jesson-Ward, who has over 20 years of experience in the communications sector, said securing the contract with Substrakt presents Serviceteam IT with a fantastic opportunity to add another prestigious client to its rapidly expanding client base. “Substrakt work with some of the country’s biggest brands, so it is essential that their connectivity is secure and reliable,” he said. “We are privileged that they have come on board, and we are looking forward to working with them for many years to come.”

Substrakt designs and develops digital solutions within the creative, cultural and tourism sectors with high-profile clients, including the English National Opera, Modern Art Oxford, and the Birmingham Hippodrome. The partnership between Serviceteam IT and Substrakt will help Substrakt accelerate its growth and better serve its clients through improved connectivity. Scott Whitehouse, Head of Technical Delivery for Substrakt, said: “Having a reliable connection for our staff, and with our high-profile clients, it is absolutely vital for us. We are delighted to be teaming up with Serviceteam IT to provide this.”

We’re proud to provide quality and value to our customers, and would like to thank Banabay for giving us such a good recommendation. If your organisation is moving premises or expanding, Serviceteam IT can provide a free, no-obligation network and communications consultation, ensuring your organisation has the tools it requires, for the level of service it needs.

To find out more, feel free to contact us on the number provided below.

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!