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Network Apr 12, 2023

3 key qualities of digital leaders in future cloud networking

By Simon Walker Senior Manager, Cloud Networking Solutions

Recently we commissioned research from IDC asking the question “what makes a digital leader in today’s cloud environment?”, particularly when it comes to cloud interconnectivity and ecosystem development.

It showed that cloud networking is evolving from connectivity to the cloud, to connectivity within and between clouds. This connectivity between clouds reflects the shift that’s taking place in operating in digital ecosystems that are cloud-native and multi-cloud. To thrive in this world, organisations now need end-to-end networking across disparate interconnected environments.

This is where the digital leaders are, but the research shows that only 25% of organisations have invested heavily in advanced cloud-native digital infrastructure that’s flexible enough to adapt to changing conditions. The reality is that most organisations have made progress but have a way to go to match digital leaders.

So, what sets these digital leaders apart?

Key qualities of a digital leader

We found three key areas where there’s considerable distance between the average organisation and a true digital leader:

1. Their IT strategy and infrastructure assets

Most organisations are still heavily focused on reducing costs in their owned, legacy, and fixed cost assets. As well as trying to sweat what they’ve already got, they’ll still be CapEx focused, looking at options for reducing and removing their owned data centre footprint.

In contrast, digital leaders are focused on investing in flexible IT frameworks and a digital partner ecosystem. They’ve made the switch to being OpEx driven and are opting for high-density, interconnection-dense partner data centres.

Organisations should investigate adopting an OpEx approach, because it would enable them to tap into the partner ecosystems, and the level of investment they contribute to futureproofing their infrastructure. Although your legacy data centre locations might meet current requirements, it’s highly unlikely they’ll meet future demands.

2. Their digital journeys and cloud maturity

The research also shows that the majority of organisations are building digital journeys within the boundaries of their own company. They’re also just starting to use some hybrid clouds and have a presence in AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, or others like Alibaba. Most are running project-based initiatives on a smaller scale, or they’ve shifted some easy-to-move applications, but that’s as far as most have progressed.

Contrast that with digital leaders where extended digital-partner-enabled journeys are more typical, with 61% making extensive use of third parties. They have set themselves up to build and deliver applications or IT services across the supply chain, the workforce, partners, and customers, rather than trying to build and operate these internally. They have also moved to a multi-cloud digital ecosystem, so are able to add or change services whenever they need them. Within these digital ecosystems they have workloads wherever it’s best or most efficient for them. This can include placing workloads at the edge, close to users so that they get a high-performance experience. They feel comfortable using multi-clouds and interconnecting between their clouds.

Instead of trying to DIY solutions or buy in support where they need it, organisations should seek out best-of-breed partners that can enable their transformation, starting with the infrastructure that will underpin this change. This will help accelerate their shift towards digital ecosystems, cloud-native and hybrid multi-cloud architectures.

3. Their secure and flexible cloud interconnection

The research also demonstrated that digital leaders are investing in infrastructure that delivers cohesive cloud interconnectivity across a modern multi-cloud-based WAN to provide seamless access to a range of digital ecosystems. This planning is critical for future success.

Digital leaders also know that choice is key – there needs to be a permanent scale for key clouds and flexibility in connecting to tertiary clouds and partner ecosystems. This interconnectivity should be broadly available and consistent across all locations or environments wherever workloads need to be deployed.

The ability to host application workloads and deliver application functions at the very doorstep of cloud and SaaS environments is a key consideration in effectively connecting to the relevant ecosystem providers. Such an approach can create a flexible architecture that’s able to bring the required vertical and horizontal supply chain into the digital ecosystem as the transformation progresses.

Organisations should begin by looking at how they’re currently connecting to their cloud infrastructure and how to build an extensible connectivity architecture that can support their future aspirations. To guide their planning, they should consider how much of their supply chain could be executed as part of a digital ecosystem and how many cloud or SaaS providers they’re connecting to compared to 12 months ago – this will give a sense of how much change has happened and what’s still to be delivered.

Reaching the leadership position you want

We understand that cloud connectivity can be complicated – especially because there’s a wide range of clouds to connect to. Plus, requirements naturally change over time, and this means many organisations will want the flexibility to change cloud provider from one month to the next or on a project-by-project basis.

An excellent foundation for operating in a digital ecosystem is to work with a partner who understands the complexity of interconnected cloud infrastructure and can deliver all the cloud connectivity you need. This means you can connect simply and directly to all partners, customers, and suppliers, for easy digital collaboration.

Our investment in delivering infrastructure that enables flexible digital ecosystems is empowering hundreds of organisations in their journeys today. By partnering with market leaders, such as Equinix, we combine the best of our respective capabilities to ensure you have the digitally enabled infrastructure that delivers your objectives. The result? Accelerated transformation, architecture flexibility and new digital solutions delivered at pace.

Introducing Connected Cloud Edge

Together, we recently launched our Connected Cloud Edge service to make diverse digital business ecosystems a reality.

The solution simplifies cloud connectivity - as it’s modular, easy to adapt and available as a managed service - there’s no need for all the skills in-house. Customers can then build a comprehensive interconnectivity platform with a range of security and SD-WAN devices supported. All on a virtual platform, meaning no racks to deploy or kit to source, saving the associated time, complexity, and cost.

It also allows easy access to multi-cloud and partner ecosystems with managed, resilient, and controlled interconnect. This delivers ubiquitous, on-demand and high-performance services in key metros worldwide, leading to agile, low-risk deployments where you operate.

If you’d like to find out more about Connected Cloud Edge, and how partnering with us can deliver a rapid route to an advanced cloud strategy, please visit our webpage.