Unplug Traditional Network Thinking: It Doesn't Work for Cloud

Image credit: iStockphoto/gemenacom

Many enterprise customers apply a traditional approach to their network architecture to transform into cloud-native or build a hybrid cloud. But this approach is not appropriate and does not deliver optimal results.

This is the view of Mac Lewis, the director of strategic alliances at Equinix, who used an automotive metaphor to illustrate his point.

“It’s as if Tesla decided to make a completely different car but using the wiring loom from a 1970 Honda — that is the comparison,” Lewis said in a panel discussion on ‘Executing an Interconnected Cloud Strategy’ at the recent Equinix Summit.

“Enterprise businesses have reached out and realized they could not use traditional environments and architecture the way they did.  So that created fractured deployments, and now they are realizing that they need a new approach.”

The cloud was entirely different from how traditional IT had been built and consumed, said Lewis. So, it made “absolute sense” to use multiple environments and workloads to connect hybrid components in different parts of the world.

Strategic partnership matters

Lewis was speaking on a panel with representatives from Australian telco Telstra and Microsoft, who are partnering to offer a combined network, cloud, and data center infrastructure to enterprise clients.

Telstra, for example, has an extensive network of undersea cables in south-east Asia, delivering its network skills into the partnership to deliver improved connectivity performance in the cloud.

Simon Lewry, head of Telstra Purple for Asia, said that as business needs become more complex around connectivity and latency, the sophistication of their apps grows, and their business expands, it was increasingly impossible for one partner to solve all of a customer’s needs.

“This is why we work with strategic partners,” said Lewry.

“It enables us to look at an end-to-end solutions landscape for customers and bring in the right solution at the right time and address those particular challenges they face as they go through that digital transformation.”

Lewry said many companies were hesitant to begin their transformations.

“Getting started is one of the biggest challenges,” he said.

“You can overanalyze what you want to do, but as long as you have the basics in place with the right partners, it can help you on your way.”

Patrick Quesnel, Microsoft’s APAC Azure infrastructure and hybrid lead, used a house-building analogy to make his point.

“How do organizations get to the cloud, and what is the process?” he asked.

“We had seen a lot of organizations put the roof on before they built the foundations. We are recommending a cloud options framework, a staged approach with stakeholders aligned to short and medium-term goals, and then building out an adoption plan with your partner of choice,” he said.

“Then you can build landing zones and make sure you are set up with the right governance framework to make sure you are set up right the first time.”

Importance of on ramp

The panelists talked about the importance of the “on ramp” delivered by the cloud providers or express routes for customers with critical application workloads to connect physically.

“When the cloud started, customers were accessing the cloud by internet, and non-structured interconnect,” said Lewis from Equinix.

“Now critical workloads are in the cloud. These are large workloads, and there is a requirement to directly connect to the cloud environment while removing latency and enabling them to use the applications as are intended.”

Panel moderator David Braue noted that 70% of organizations said their IT priorities had changed throughout COVID-19.

This led to a discussion of the increased relevance of edge computing in the hybrid environment, particularly for those organizations needing to deploy data, AI, and machine learning at the edge of the network.

Organizations that had leveraged data and embedded it into their culture were the ones using this approach and transforming fastest.

Lachlan Colquhoun is the Australia and New Zealand correspondent for CDOTrends and DigitalWorkforceTrends, and the editor of NextGen Connectivity. His fascination is with how businesses are reinventing themselves through digital technology and collaborate with others to become completely new organizations. You can reach him at [email protected].

Image credit: iStockphoto/gemenacom