Why cloud connectivity doesn’t have to be complicated

Written by Anthony Lobretto, Senior Vice President of Connectivity, 11:11 Systems.

Whether it’s a delay on the first leg of a connecting flight, buffering on iPlayer, or a weak signal during a train journey, nobody likes it when a connection fails. We live in a world of instant gratification and downtime (even seconds) frustrates us all.

That’s especially true for organisations that have migrated their applications and workloads to the cloud. A study by Netwrix determined that, on average, companies have 41% of their workloads in the cloud and plan to reach 54% by the end of 2023. What’s more, Flexera found that 89% of businesses using cloud storage embrace a multi-cloud strategy, and 80% of those organisations take a hybrid approach. Cloud strategies are becoming more popular, flexible and complex than ever.

Growth in cloud migration continues to accelerate

While cloud migration has steadily grown over the years, since 2020, businesses have had to ensure that their entire workforce can operate seamlessly from any environment. This shift has put digital and cloud transformation firmly on the map and unlocked new business opportunities for organisations. But migration to the cloud means our approach to deploying applications and services has radically changed, and flexible working means users have moved away from traditional offices and branches.

As cloud adoption continues to accelerate, many businesses unintentionally overcomplicate their connectivity. They try to get high-speed, point-to-point circuits into their facilities, which is quickly becoming an old way of thinking. They underrate their connections’ reliability, underestimate the bandwidth they require, and overlook the need for security in an evolving work-from-anywhere environment.

Complexity in cloud connectivity comes from the combination of technology solutions and the number of providers needed to get to the cloud venue, especially from a remote location. Yet, simplifying it is much easier than most organisations realise — and can save time, money, and headaches both now and in the future.

As technology evolves so do connectivity requirements

Anyone who tried to join a Zoom meeting at the height of the pandemic while their children attended online schooling learned that bandwidth isn’t infinite. But connectivity issues aren’t just limited to the home; local network infrastructure also faces a massive strain with more people logging on from different locations.

Some find it difficult to connect to networks at the bandwidth they require. The good news is now more than 40 per cent of UK homes can access full-fibre broadband connections and Ofcom says the rollout of new connections is continuing “at record pace”. In its annual Connected Nations report, Ofcom states that full-fibre connections are now available to 12.4 million households, an increase of 4.3 million from last year.

In its last manifesto, the Conservative Party promised to install full-fibre, gigabit-capable broadband in every home and business across the UK by 2025, however it recently downgraded this to 85%. Despite this, the UK is making good progress towards having a fully connected population. This is a strong positive for accessibility and inclusion, but it puts pressure on employers to ensure their network connectivity can support the stability, security and speed requirements of a hybrid workforce.

SD-WAN: strengthen, accelerate, and secure connections

Unstable connections can affect all employees — not just those working remotely. One solution is to implement a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN), which can be used to strengthen, accelerate, and secure connections to multiple clouds, including those hosting important data, email servers, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. But not everyone has learned about SD-WAN’s benefits. And if they have, they may not have the ability or resources to manage that type of network.

Any organisation that wants to make that move can also find challenges in the infrastructure. You need to have your network and hardware in place before SD-WAN can be overlaid. Once it is, you must configure your connectivity and your cloud so they can talk to what you have on premises. If that’s not done properly, outages can happen, and any traffic routed over the internet won’t be secure.

Forty-one percent of respondents to the Netwrix study said their biggest obstacle in turning to the cloud was integrating their existing IT environment, and 48% of those surveyed by Flexera said assessing the technical feasibility of migration to the cloud is a top challenge. As technology evolves and computing power shifts, organisations don’t want to be left behind.

Why connectivity is firmly on the CIO’s radar

Reliable connectivity, effectively-integrated cloud computing and a continuous focus on security as networks expand are all aspects that every CIO, from the largest company to the smallest, must have on their radar. They may not think about connectivity before workloads move to the cloud, but they will when data starts moving. But as outlined above, by working with the right provider, cloud connectivity doesn’t have to be complicated or costly.

Ultimately every missed connection is a missed opportunity. Improving business efficiency by embracing the cloud will be critical, especially in today’s economic climate. However, it is also critically important that organisations combine their new-found scalability with secure connectivity to see the true benefits. CIOs must ensure that a robust connectivity strategy is a core part of their digital transformation strategy – both now and in the future. 

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