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Cloud connectivity – the fabric of digital business

Cloud computing adoption by enterprises has only accelerated since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Forrester Consulting 2021 Cloud Connectivity Buyer’s Guide, commissioned by Megaport, suggests that the pandemic “reinforced the substantial value and necessity of cloud technology. Business decision-makers have realized that networks are ‘the central nervous system of their businesses.’” With cloud technology playing such a critical role, IT leaders must now turn their focus toward optimizing their investments in the cloud – and to do that, they must consider the importance of cloud connectivity.

Today, connectivity to the cloud is as critical as the cloud itself. As businesses increasingly adopt numerous cloud-based solutions, IT leaders must ensure they can easily reach the cloud, while simultaneously managing and connecting multiple clouds together in a secure, reliable, and cost-effective manner. Being agile is a requirement for today’s successful IT environments.

Connecting to the cloud with NaaS

For this reason, many businesses are looking to Network as a Service (NaaS) providers to provide expertise on cloud connectivity. NaaS providers offer network connectivity services to companies that can’t or don’t want to build their own infrastructure. NaaS can include services such as Wide Area Networking (WAN) connectivity, data center connectivity, Bandwidth On Demand (BOND), security services, and other applications. Many of these offerings are delivered virtually, thanks to network virtualization.

According to Forrester’s Business Technographics® Networks and Telecom Survey from 2020, the majority of businesses in the UK have already recognized the importance of NaaS – 62% of UK telecommunications technology decision-makers confirm their firms have deployed NaaS solutions and a further 16% said they were planning to do so in the next 12 months.

IT leaders across the UK say they are already reaping the benefits of NaaS by simplifying their IT network (42%), creating a more flexible approach to IT (39%), and mitigating risks of technology changes (34%). These numbers are even higher for UK firms that have indicated that one of their top priorities is to shift to a digital business.

Innovation at the speed of the cloud

Cloud computing has made compute-heavy development and innovation far more efficient and faster than ever. Whether it’s software dev and test environments hosted and managed in the cloud, automotive manufacturing and design simulation, or motion-picture visual effects rendering using High-Performance Computing (HPC), businesses in all sectors are unlocking new ways to innovate by using the cloud.

Cloud connectivity plays a critical role in enabling this innovation. Businesses that use traditional connectivity methods such as VPN tunneling over the internet to the public cloud will struggle with bandwidth constraints and reliability from best-effort internet connectivity – slowing development and time-to-market. If businesses decide to connect to the cloud with private lines from their ISP or telco, they’ll struggle with scaling bandwidth up and down based on their day-to-day needs because provisioning times with ISPs and telcos can range from 30 to 120 days. Also, this option doesn’t give them the flexibility to change or add additional service providers in real-time as and when required.

Framestore, the award-winning creative studio behind The Avengers and Harry Potter movies, experienced exactly this problem. They used VPN tunnels to get their creative team’s visual effects to work into the cloud, only to find that they needed to manage over 100 tunnels 24/7 to keep those cloud connections up and running. Using our NaaS solution, they were able to establish private, direct cloud connectivity on-demand and in a point-and-click manner, provisioning reliable bandwidth in minutes, instead of months, on our easy-to-use portal. They were also able to select and move to a diverse spectrum of cloud providers to follow a best-of-breed technology approach.

Global connectivity for global deployments

If a global business is going to deploy a newly built application on-premises via private cloud, it will need to design its WAN to support reliable global connectivity to the cloud services deployed. A NaaS provider with a global footprint can help businesses ensure that their applications run reliably whether their users are in London or Hong Kong.

In the case of ICE, the Fortune 500 financial marketplace operator that owns the New York Stock Exchange, they were able to deploy their new cloud-based market data service IGN Cloud Connect using our global, private NaaS purpose-built for capital markets. ICE’s offering is available in 24 countries and gives their customers secure and low latency access to ICE’s data services in the cloud.

The Fabric of Digital Business

Modernized network connectivity will play a pivotal role in driving value from the cloud. As Forrester argues in its 2021 Cloud Connectivity Buyer’s Guide, “the network matters more than ever. No longer just a commodity, it has become the fabric of the digital business.”

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