DCI solutions for the new cloud ecosystem


  • Enterprise data centers and IT resources are moving to the cloud
  • Adopting the right strategy helps enterprises flourish in the cloud era
  • DCI solutions for the cloud must be scalable, agile, dynamic

As enterprises move to cloud IT, they need data center interconnect (DCI) solutions that can take full advantage of the new cloud ecosystem. Private, virtual private, public and hybrid clouds all have unique benefits to offer. And the right DCI solutions help deliver the benefits an enterprise needs most — whether that includes control, security, flexibility, agility, or lower costs.

Clearly, every enterprise needs to determine the right cloud balance to meet its needs. For example, according to the large enterprise IT survey referenced at the end of this article, 3 out of 5 large US enterprises are already using some form of cloud. Of these, 74% have adopted private clouds, 31% have adopted public cloud services and 22% have adopted a hybrid cloud model.

But there’s no one-size-fits-all model. DCI solutions vary according to an enterprise’s capitalization, size, IT assets — and the amount of data it wants to store in the cloud. Enterprises need flexible DCI solutions for cloud interconnect that enable different approaches according to individual business models.

Alcatel-Lucent: The new cloud ecosystem

Figure 1. The new cloud ecosystem

Private clouds need data center interconnect solutions with security and control

When an enterprise owns and operates its own data centers and data center interconnect solutions, they have a private cloud. This type of cloud is often chosen for handling business-critical information, because it offers the highest level of security and control and the lowest level of risk. Typically, a DCI network connects a primary data center to a secondary data center in the same area, as shown in Figure 1. In some cases, a 3rd data center in another area provides additional resiliency in case of major incidents.

Alcatel-Lucent Data center interconnect for large enterprises

Private clouds also support virtualization, with applications and data distributed across multiple data centers. Virtualization lets enterprises quickly assign and share IT assets. For example, the business can easily redistribute workloads or reassign capacity for short-term projects. Some Alcatel-Lucent customers describe this approach as providing “the advantages of cloud functionality within the safety of their organization.” (See the PSB survey referenced under Related Material.)

How they’re used

Finance and healthcare companies often choose private clouds, because they help maintain:

  • Client confidentiality
  • Data security and compliance
  • Business continuity
  • Disaster recovery

Localized data centers can be combined with high-speed, low-latency optical DCI solutions that support time-sensitive applications, such as high-frequency financial trading.

Large manufacturers and retailers often use regional data centers to:

  • Track suppliers
  • Take customer orders
  • Support logistics

IP/optical DCI solutions then support critical applications and data backup and recovery across multiple sites.

Unfortunately, private clouds can be costly. Capital investments are needed to increase capacity or make architecture changes. Qualified staff must be paid to operate the data centers and DCI network, maintain IT resources, and keep data secure. And all project and technology risk falls on the enterprise.

Enterprises want to retain the control and security provided by a private cloud for their business-critical and proprietary applications that may have performance, availability, reliability or regulatory requirements. But they want to add more cost-effective and flexible options for less-sensitive applications and data. New models are now emerging to meet these needs.

Virtual private clouds require scalable, flexible data center interconnect solutions

Virtual private clouds allow an enterprise to expand its private cloud. In this case, the cloud adds data center resources in colocation (colo) facilities owned by a 3rd party, such as a communication service provider (CSP) or a carrier-neutral provider (CNP). Figure 1 shows how that works. The private cloud connects securely to a CSP or CNP data center by extending the enterprise’s own DCI solution. Or the connection can be made using a managed DCI solution.

From an enterprise perspective, any assets or resources used in the virtual private cloud become part of their private cloud but are remotely located in the CSP or CNP data center. The enterprise can install and manage its own compute, storage and network assets and just pay for space and power. Or they can lease the resources they need from the provider.

How they’re used

An enterprise could use a virtual private cloud for less critical applications, as a way to augment its private cloud. For example, a financial company could use a private cloud to back up business-critical data, while simultaneously using a virtual private cloud to improve non-critical workload distribution.

Virtual private clouds provide greater flexibility. They also allows capital and operating expense to be matched to enterprise IT needs, without sacrificing control and security.

Public clouds need agile and dynamic data center interconnect solutions

This approach gives the enterprise another way to augment its private cloud. In this case, it uses resources or services on a shared platform provided by an Internet content or cloud provider (ICP). As shown in Figure 1, the enterprise can use a managed DCI solution or the Internet to access public cloud services.

The enterprise only pays for the resources and services it consumes, based on the time they are used. The ICP may host resources and services in their own data centers. Or they may host them in CNP colo data centers closer to the enterprise and its customers. In either case, public cloud resources and services remain separate from but become part of the enterprise’s private cloud.

Combining private and public clouds and orchestrating resources across the private-public boundary is known as a hybrid cloud model. This approach assists the movement of data between clouds and permits the seamless expansion and contraction of resources to meet changing workloads.

Public and hybrid clouds offer enterprises the highest flexibility, as they enable access to resources and services when, where and for as long as required. They also reduce cost significantly. However, they may not provide the level of control, security and compliance that some enterprises need for some applications.

How they’re used

Enterprises can use public cloud capacity and services for non-critical and customer-facing applications, a method to augment private clouds used for key business applications.

For example, a retailer may outsource its web presence, online ordering and inventory control applications to a public cloud provider to improve customer experience and the supply chain.

Simultaneously, it uses public cloud capacity when needed for non-critical applications but continues to run the company’s ERP and CRM applications in its private cloud to maintain security and control.

Solutions for cloud interconnect

Traditionally, DCI solutions have focused on bandwidth and latency to ensure business continuity and disaster recovery. But now, with the move to the cloud, enterprises must address new objectives and requirements. Here are key points to think about, before choosing a DCI solution for cloud interconnect:

  • Scalable, flexible bandwidth: Cloud applications and explosive data growth demand for more scalable bandwidth. As a result, solutions must be able to deliver very high bandwidth — and increase and decrease bandwidth as needed.
  • Multi-site, multi-technology: Solutions need to share data, distribute applications and balance workloads across clouds. They must provide multi-site, multi-technology capabilities with high performance, reliability and quality of service.
  • Agile, dynamic provisioning: Solutions must support orchestration across cloud boundaries to add resources when and where required. They must provision bandwidth and orchestrate network resources quickly and easily — across multiple data centers and multiple clouds.

The most effective DCI solutions deliver the scalable, flexible and secure cloud interconnect that enterprises need for fast turn-up of cloud IT. At the same time, they help assure business continuity, improve asset utilization, and reduce costs.


Data center interconnect for large enterprises web page

Cloud Interconnect for the Enterprise white paper

A window into large enterprise IT PSB survey results

Our authors look forward to your questions and comments.