As cloud technology develops, organisations are inundated with options when it comes to selecting cloud providers. This proliferation of choice brings a huge amount of flexibility for companies, but it also brings complexity.
In a multicloud arrangement, for example, it can be difficult to adequately monitor all cloud environments and networks without the means to ensure end-to-end connectivity and visibility. This can pose challenges in areas such as cybersecurity or compliance with data sovereignty and data protection regulations.
This is where software-defined cloud interconnect (SDCI) services have a major role to play, by delivering private connectivity to a variety of cloud, network and internet service providers, and enabling monitoring of these environments from a single place. These can be delivered as a managed service, meaning adoption of SDCI and its ongoing development can be handled without placing too much stress on the business.
Despite its many advantages, having access to multiple clouds often leads to a lack of centralised network visibility and control. From a security perspective, 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. Each cloud service provider typically possesses its own set of security controls, encryption mechanisms and compliance standards.
This means businesses have a significant task on their hands to harmonise all of these arrangements, without which they could fall foul of data protection or data sovereignty regulations, particularly if the organisation operates cloud environments in multiple countries or regions.
While still a growing technology, SDCI has the potential to help businesses address the above difficulties and achieve 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.
SDCI helps eliminate network complexity 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. The same technology can also interconnect two or more cloud service providers without needing to traverse the internet.
The benefits of this are numerous. Much of the mystery around multicloud and network complexity is eliminated due to the reliable interconnectivity and visibility that SDCI provides. 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.
SDCI holds great promise, but there is still progress to be made 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 is leaders simply being 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.
The good news is there is plenty that can be done to remedy these issues and make SDCI more accessible to businesses. One way is through 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. This includes real-time performance and KPI monitoring, and full flexibility and control over how users connect to their cloud environments.
It is also important that experts in SDCI take the time to educate the market about the technology more generally. This means offering clear, concise communication about how SDCI works, its key advantages and how the technology is progressing. 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.
SDCI is on the up. With the right approaches to its ongoing development and a focus on delivering comprehensive managed services to organisations embracing SDCI, it will play a major role in the future of cloud connectivity.