The evolution of cloud technology has left business decision-makers spoilt for choice when searching for the cloud providers that best support their needs. While a wide array of options introduces new and interesting possibilities for organisations, having so many providers to choose from can also be confusing.
Take a multicloud arrangement as an example, where monitoring several cloud environments and networks can be hugely complex without end-to-end connectivity and visibility. This can lead to a number of problems, including issues around cybersecurity or compliance with data sovereignty and data protection regulations.
This is where software-defined cloud interconnect (SDCI) enters the conversation. SDCI is central to delivering the security, visibility and network connectivity needed for a multicloud strategy, providing private connectivity to a variety of cloud, network and internet service providers and enabling monitoring of these environments from a single place. SDCI can be implemented as a managed service, reducing the strain on organisations by delegating complex cloud connectivity responsibilities to a third party.
The intricacies of cloud networks
Access to multiple clouds can be advantageous for many reasons, but can also lead to a lack of centralised network visibility and control. In terms of security, this makes it more difficult for teams to identify and respond to threats, as well as enforce consistent security policies and configurations across diverse cloud environments.
Maintaining adequate data protection practices and regulatory compliance is also challenging in the absence of end-to-end cloud connectivity. Typically, individual cloud service providers apply their own set of security controls, encryption mechanisms and compliance standards.
As a result, harmonising all of these different protocols and configurations can be a headache for businesses. Failing to adhere to requirements could mean they could fall foul of data protection or data sovereignty regulations, particularly if the organisation operates cloud environments in multiple countries or regions.
Where does SDCI come into play?
SDCI technology is still developing, but it is already able to support businesses in addressing the above difficulties and achieving greater visibility of their cloud environments. Its popularity is on an upward trajectory: according to Gartner’s 2023 Hype Cycle for Enterprise Networking, 30% of global enterprises will use SDCI services by the end of 2027, up from less than 10% in 2022.
By providing private connectivity between enterprise sites and cloud service providers, alongside a single interface through which organisations can monitor the performance of each cloud environment, SDCI helps eliminate network complexity. The same technology can also interconnect two or more cloud service providers without needing to traverse the internet.
Deeper interconnectivity and greater transparency deliver numerous advantages for businesses. The reliable interconnectivity and visibility that SDCI provides eliminates much of the mystery around multicloud and network complexity. The fact that SDCI delivers private connectivity also ensures better security, as workloads are not exposed to the internet or external threats, and the ability to monitor clouds from a single location means any security issues can be spotted and acted on in good time.
Barriers to SDCI adoption
SDCI has significant potential, but there are further steps that need to be taken in order to maximise its potential. Many of the barriers to greater adoption revolve around a lack of overall awareness of SDCI’s benefits, which can easily be overcome if these advantages are communicated in the right way.
Gartner’s Hype Cycle report cites a number of challenges. One is a perception amongst leaders that their company only needs to employ internet connectivity directly into cloud service providers. This boils down to many organisations not being aware of the different types of connections into cloud service providers, and specifically the advantages of the private connectivity offered by SDCI.
Another difficulty is that some business leaders remain largely unaware of the availability of SDCI technology, its key benefits and how to adopt it. One reason for this is the fact that SDCI capabilities are evolving rapidly, so it can be difficult to know exactly when to invest in it.
Bespoke services and streamlined communication are the answer
On the upside, there are many ways we can overcome these hurdles and boost the accessibility of SDCI for businesses. First of all, we can increase the provision of end-to-end SDCI managed services. As with other IT managed services, this removes much of the burden and complexity of adopting and adapting to SDCI, delivering more efficient, visible and secure cloud connectivity and all of the benefits mentioned above, alongside ongoing support to make sure the technology is tailored to the needs of the organisation. Advantages include real-time performance and KPI monitoring, as well as full flexibility and control over how users connect to their cloud environments.
Experts in SDCI should also take the time to educate the market about the technology more generally. This involves communicating clearly and concisely about SDCI’s functionality, its important benefits and how the technology is evolving. Being conscious of the specific challenges of different industries is also key, as this allows for managed services to be adapted for a wide range of requirements.
The prevalence of SDCI services is growing and will continue to do so. As long as this progress continues in the right way and providers focus on delivering comprehensive managed services to organisations embracing SDCI, the technology will play a defining role in shaping the future of cloud connectivity.