The term “digital transformation” may seem a bit overused at the moment. For example, he was the main topic at this year’s CeBIT. But aside from the hype, digital transformation is certainly one of the biggest challenges companies face today. To catalyze users’ hunger for real-time applications, data, and insights over the Internet in real time, many companies are turning to the cloud for their digital transformation strategy. But the challenge of the cloud lies in its dependence on the public Internet.
The use of the Internet has changed radically since its commercial beginnings in the early 1990s. With only a few lines of text exchanged at the beginning, it has become an irreplaceable tool for businesses today, enabling them to network with a growing number of mission-critical applications. With little change in the infrastructure of the Internet so far, companies need to rethink their networks and invest purposefully in their networks to ensure that business needs are met in the age of the cloud.
Today’s networks must operate with a complex combination of Private, Public and Hybrid Cloud hosting all different types of data or applications. Enterprise on-premise applications can include ERP solutions and sensitive customer data, while the private cloud is used for Office 365 and mobile applications. Last but not least, less critical solutions, such as back-up photo galleries, can be managed in the public cloud. In this complicated constellation, the public Internet plays a crucial role.
Hot Potato Routing vs. Deterministic Routing
To network users and bring data from A to B, the public Internet uses a strategy called “Hot Potato Routing”. As the name implies, a data packet like a hot potato is passed from one node to the next as fast as possible. Data packets often take unnecessary detours until they finally reach their destination. For businesses, this means a great deal of uncertainty in accessing their applications. For example, a company in Germany provides its employees in Asia with a cloud-based application via a provider in the USA. However, because of the large distance that the data has to travel, coupled with hot potato routing, the applications can only be accessed very slowly at peak times.
One way to solve this problem is Deterministic Routing. In doing so, certain SLAs for application access are pre-defined. In practice, data packets are marked for a predetermined, associated delivery over the public Internet. This may not always be the shortest route in terms of distance covered – but it is always the fastest and most reliable way the data packet needs to get from A to B. Deterministic routing can maximize performance and reliability throughout the network. This gives companies the quiet feeling of being able to use the public Internet for mission-critical applications.
To further enhance the reliability and security of cloud-based applications and data, a number of companies have joined forces with their cloud services over a corporate-grade MPLS or Ethernet network. But maybe companies should not have to decide between the internet and a WAN? This is where hybrid networking comes into play. It brings businesses the scale and cost-effectiveness of the public Internet, along with the performance, reliability, and security of a WAN.
By blending private and public connectivity, Hybrid Networking enables businesses to get the most out of the cloud, paving the way for cross-enterprise digital transformation.