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Cloud Networking: Applications, Deployment Models, and Trends

portrait of Fady Masoud

February 14, 2023
By Fady Masoud
Director, Solutions Marketing

Every minute of every day, viewers stream the equivalent of 1 million hours of video content. In the same “internet minute,” more than 2.43 million Snaps occur on Snapchat.1 Supporting this data transmission and content distribution is the underlying transport network.

5G wireless is also projected to put more pressure on the network, with an expected 10 to 100 times more bandwidth per user, significantly lower latency, and an order of magnitude more devices per square kilometer. Moreover, the rise of multi-access edge computing is accelerating and multiplying the deployment of data centers in metro areas. By processing data and services as close to the end user as possible, edge computing enables organizations to reduce latency, improve performance, and reduce transport costs. Furthermore, enterprises around the globe are moving their applications and workloads to the cloud to reduce costs, increase productivity and flexibility, and enhance access to the latest technology and applications.  In fact, it is estimated that 83% of enterprise workloads are in the cloud .

The migration to the cloud is fueling data center growth, boosting traffic in all directions – north-south (users accessing the cloud/data centers) traffic is growing 30-40% per year, and east-west (data center to data center, peering, data replication) traffic is growing even faster at 50-60% per year.2

Cloud networking solutions consist of connecting data centers, often called data center interconnect or DCI. Internet content providers and cloud application providers, as well as other network operators like communication service providers and cable/multiple systems operators, all need to connect data centers, whether to deliver cloud-based services or applications like streaming music, video, or social media platforms; to offer DCI as a service to enterprise customers; or for their own business operations (data storage and replication, etc.).

Cloud Networking Applications

Cloud networking and DCI applications consist of enterprises connecting to cloud providers or two or more data centers connecting to each other. The connectivity can be within the same metro area, within a region/country, over thousands of terrestrial kilometers, or across the ocean, with the goal to deliver a cloud-based consumer or business service. To name a few:

  • Enterprise connectivity to cloud providers: Whether they use public or hybrid cloud, enterprises connect to cloud application providers such as Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure to develop custom applications or use cloud-based ones, including not just web-based customer-facing applications but also mission-critical internal business applications for customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, and human resources, among others. Enterprises are relying more heavily on networks that connect their sites to cloud service providers at carrier-neutral facilities across the world.
  • Cloud-based data replication: This application consists of using cloud-based data backup and replication to complement other data protection schemes and is only possible now that the network has enough capacity and performance to support it. It ensures that enterprise data is always protected in a remote location in the case of a business-disrupting event such as a natural disaster. Keeping latency below a certain threshold is often a key factor to ensure proper deployment of this application. Therefore, a high-performance optical network with low latency and low jitter, a variation of latency, is a key enabler for deploying any data replication application.
  • Continuous application availability: More sophisticated enterprise users are moving toward a completely new model for continuous global application availability that is not based on bulk data replication and recovery plans, but rather on distributed systems architectures. By running applications in multiple locations and continuously synchronizing critical data across locations, an enterprise can ensure that applications are protected against the loss of any server, any application instance, any copy of the application data, or even the loss of an entire location.
  • Distributed application architectures: Often, consumer or business cloud applications are composed of multiple components, with a front-end web server in a public cloud, specialized application components running in a hosted private cloud environment, and a back-end database with highly sensitive data running in a tightly controlled enterprise data center. Data centers must be interconnected to provide real-time communication between these components. Application performance can be highly sensitive to network latency or packet loss in between these components.
  • Dynamic application mobility and scalability: Multiple cloud infrastructures can be used for the same application, whether to scale out compute capacity beyond the limits of a single data center, to move application workloads based on cost or performance, or simply to migrate applications to a different environment over time without incurring any application downtime. Application mobility can be particularly valuable in providing mobile end users with the best experience as they travel by moving their applications and data, such as an email inbox, to a cloud data center near their current location.
  • Internet exchanges: Providing cloud services to enterprises worldwide requires internet exchanges (IXE), where carriers, cloud providers, and carrier-neutral providers have a common “meet me” location to interconnect customers, regions, national networks, service providers, and cloud solutions providers.

Cloud networking solutions heavily rely on the quality and performance of connectivity provided by the underlying optical network. This connectivity must have the highest levels of performance: high capacity, low latency, high reliability, agility, etc. across short (within a campus or a city), medium (within a region), and long distances, putting the optical network at the heart of the evolution to the cloud. From connecting employees for better collaboration and productivity to protecting mission-critical information from day to day and during major disasters, optical networking innovation enables numerous cloud networking applications.

Check out Infinera’s solutions for cloud networking applications, and stay tuned for a follow-on blog where we will touch on the different DCI deployment models and what to consider for each application.

1: Data Never Sleeps 10.0, Domo, 2022

2: OMDIA Quarterly Analyst Conference Call –2020 ​