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Network Oct 19, 2023

An evolutionary leap in networks

By Colin Bannon Chief Technology Officer, Business

The future is cloud centric. Global organisations know it and have been carefully planning their digital transformation strategies so they can stake their claim on this new operational plane.

And now, they’re embracing new technologies and processes in a bid to operate successfully in the cloud.

However, taking a truly cloud-first approach is one step further. A large, significant step. A crucial part of this involves embracing the scale of cloud connections needed and managing the complexity of connecting into the  hyperscalers and other cloud-based applications. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many organisations are finding making this shift more difficult than they expected. Frustration is rising as they try to make current network architectures support the high-bandwidth, low latency and on-demand requirements necessary for effective cloud-centric working.

The simple fact is that traditional site-to-site network architectures are rarely set up to embrace and support the connectivity and multi-cloud, multi-edge ecosystems that are the future of operations. Some organisations have managed to adapt their networks to cope well, but it’s uncertain how far into the future, as demands increase, that these adaptations will hold.

For many more organisations, however, the network is just saying ‘no’. 

To break this impasse, networking must evolve. Recognising this shifting need of our customers, we set about addressing it. 

After carefully listening to our customers, assessing the market’s direction of travel and consulting leading analysts, we channelled our investment strength into driving an evolutionary leap in networking. The result is Global Fabric - the network for today and tomorrow’s needs.

The five factors making cloud first so hard for current networks

Knowing 86% of organisations are planning to move most or all of their IT infrastructure and applications to the cloud within the next five years, we set out to create a network ready to meet their needs. As part of the process, we commissioned independent customer research to give us a granular picture of the global network experience. What emerged was a complex scenario where factors intertwine to create significant blocks to cloud-first networking.

1. They lack operational flexibility

Costly over-provisioning is often necessary to make sure the network can meet capacity demands, because long lead times for service changes make a more flexible approach impossible. Inflexibility also takes the form of thin PoP architecture and metro coverage which means customers see spikes in latency associated with re-routing traffic via a different metro or cloud region should for example, expressroute fail.

2. It’s hard to manage costs

With the global economic slowdown and increased uncertainty, commercial flexibility is priceless. However, long-term, fixed contracts are common in networks, and are limiting organisations ability to switch between services such as IP VPN to internet and consuming those services on a PAYG basis. Total cost of ownership is often inflated by architectures that stipulate separate physical devices for each service, as well as by the expense of circuit over-provisioning. 

When data is moved out of a hyperscaler environment, it often incurs what’s known as egress charges. These are costs associated with transferring data from public cloud to the public internet. These charges can quickly add up, particularly if large volumes of data are being moved. Optimal cloud network design and regularly monitoring your cloud usage will help you avoid bill shock. 

3. Application performance isn’t good enough

Organisations aren’t confident that their networks can deliver the always-on connectivity essential to business as usual when workloads are distributed across a digital supply chain. Currently, network limitations are stopping 65% of organisations from deploying new business applications. Extra latency and limited performance monitoring threaten application availability, and poor underlay performance and interoperability issues also affect how applications function.

4. Cyber risk and observing data sovereignty are increasingly challenging

The majority (91%) of business and IT leaders identify improving data security and data sovereignty as a likely technical reason for a network upgrade. They recognise that integrating the security controls necessary to protect against the increased cyber risks of operating in the cloud into traditional network architectures is difficult, and not always possible. Now the traditional network perimeter has evaporated, security is about protecting data wherever it resides and controlling access based on authenticaion and authorisation. Organisations want a network capable of supporting the security controls necessary to implement a Zero Trust approach.

Data sovereignty is also a significant motivator for change. The further organisations move into a distributed edge environment, the more urgent it becomes to ensure data complies with sovereignty regulations. However, without the ability to control end-to-end routes, it’s difficult to geo-fence data or choose pathways that avoid sensitive countries. This challenge highlights a more general requirement for a network that can enable intent-based policy and strategy.

5. They can’t support the next step in sustainability

Organisations understand the importance of building networks capable of supporting their sustainability goals, with 94% of business and IT leaders considering sustainability considerations important to their IT and network infrastructure strategy. As part of their ongoing sustainability journey, global organisations are particularly focused on improving the energy consumption and efficiency of their third-party services, in order to reduce their Scope 3 emissions. Data centres and data transmission networks are responsible for nearly one per cent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. However, most providers of these services are unable to provide visibility into their energy usage, holding back users’ sustainability progress. 

Global Fabric – connecting you to everything

Our experts and analysts predicted the scale and impact of these cloud-centric challenges so, behind the scenes, we’ve been inventing the future by pioneering a network to drive a new era of connectivity.

The result is Global Fabric, a revolution in cloud networking. It’s set to reshape how organisations operate for decades to come. Global Fabric is what will finally unlock the full promise of a cloud-centric world.

In brief, Global Fabric is an end-to-end programmable platform that seamlessly connects you both to the cloud, and between where you operate in public and private clouds. It weaves together functionality that overcomes all the stumbling blocks traditional network architectures encounter when moving most, or all, of their computing infrastructure to the public cloud to work in a ‘cloud-first’ way.

With Global Fabric, you can shape your network to fit your needs, rather than making do with what traditional networks can support. It’s an infrastructure that stitches together cloud-like operational flexibility, cost optimisation, enhanced application performance and data sovereignty compliance, aligned security controls and increased sustainability.  

We’ve made this investment, developing technology that’s responsible and more sustainable, so that you can set your cloud ambitions free. Global Fabric is ready to help you accelerate your growth and move into advanced applications.

If you take away nothing else about Global Fabric, remember that if you’re connected to it, you’re connected to everything that matters.

Download our whitepaper to find out more about Global Fabric. And look out for more blog posts, coming soon, exploring the five factors making current networks cloud–unfriendly - and how our new revolutionary network can help.