Multicloud management and connectivity
Increasingly, multicloud management is essential not just to individual businesses, but the overall ecosystem of business as a whole. But as with any fundamental technological business enabler, it’s a process that’s subject to trends.
We sat down with Jérôme Dilouya, CEO of Intercloud, a cloud connectivity specialist, to discuss what the current most popular trends in multicloud management and connectivity are, and why they’re that most miraculous of things – trends that actually matter to your bottom line.
Jérôme, Intercloud deals with private, rather than public cloud – what’s the situation in that market right now?
Private cloud is a fairly small part of the whole connectivity market. But it has become maybe the most advanced and changing part of the enterprise connectivity market, because enterprise connectivity has been around for 40 years, and it didn’t really change much for most of that time. So if you had a private network in the 90s, you had the same private network for 30 years.
But 10 years ago, and in practical terms for most large companies 5 years ago, most of your key assets were just starting to get outside your comfort zone (which is to say your private network).
The inconvenience of public access.
To give a real-life illustration, that’s like having everything at home, and one day, one of your executives comes to your house and says “Why not put your refrigerator outside the building? It’s a shared refrigerator, and it’s going to be cheaper if it’s outside.”
And you quite rightly say “Okay, but what if it’s raining? I can’t get my Coke without getting wet.”
“But it’s cheaper.”
So we’ve been standing there in the middle of the network, seeing them going from 0% cloud workloads, to, let’s say, 25% cloud workloads. We’re just at the beginning of this cloud thing. You can call all this a sovereignty security problem, and you want to prevent people moving their workloads out of their on-prem.
Typical outsourcers that we know are companies like Atos or IBM. So that’s the space and the type of customer we’re discussing. And that process of big companies moving their workloads out of their on-prem leads us to what we think is a leading trend right now – the need to bolster cybersecurity.
Bolstering cybersecurity can never be a bad thing, but why is it one of the big trends in multicloud management you’ve identified?
Because within the last 18 months, everyone has become more aware – and therefore more afraid – of what can happen on a public network.
Good news! There’s a solution – you stay at home. You close your network.
Bad news. If you don’t have all your assets in house, at some point you need to get out. And technically that’s where there’s risk. It’s from the public interface of your own network. It’s where your customers are connecting to your assets, and vice versa. If you need to get access to public resources, you need to get out through that public door.
So, say you have one route and 40,000 people using Teams, if you’re a big company like Schneider Electric. That’s a very big open door. So you can pay an absolute fortune to secure that public activity, but there’s risk still there, because you can’t close the door completely. It may be a much reduced risk once you’ve paid your fortune, maybe 2% – but it’s still there.
There’s another way that is honestly more effective, but far more complicated. You can just segregate and say, I know where I’m going, I am using public cloud or public connectivity to get to Salesforce, then you can ask people like us, (there are around 10 of our kind of company in the world), to secure you. If you don’t want to use public internet to get access to Salesforce, for instance, we can provide private connectivity to that asset. That means it’s like bringing your Salesforce refrigerator back inside your house – while actually keeping it exactly where it is.
The magic door.
There are around 1% of SaaS applications that we can’t do that for, but for most of them, we create a kind of private door – so we can go privately between the customer’s private network, and the place where the wanted assets are. It may not be a very elegant way of doing things, but it’s effective in terms of lowering the risk of getting attacked while out and about in the public network, where the whole of the public – including the criminal public – live.
Naturally, we – and those like us – can provide security services on top of our “private doors,” but it all comes down to how seriously you take the risk of cybersecurity. Do you really need to establish a version of a private network to get at the assets you want with maximum security?
The answer will depend on your size, your assets, and the risk of you being attacked when you venture out into public networks.
And the cybersecurity threat level is rising, hence…
Exactly. In Europe, for example, there are industries where private connectivity is mandatory, where there is no way you can use internet outside of a private network or private connectivity. Most of the banks can’t use public connectivity to do some of the data crunching they need to do on their private assets.
So, more robust cybersecurity in general balances the business case for multicloud management and private connectivity – but there are industries where balancing is irrelevant because it’s a business essential to maintain that private connectivity. Got it.
And then there’s cost management.
Cost management is a trend in multicloud management? Isn’t cost management just prudence for every business?
It is, but there’s a particular situation in the connectivity market that makes it especially relevant.
In the networking world, some of the bigger players will sell you a pipe – a package of connectivity. If you want a large pipe, you pay 100 Euro. If you don’t use it at all, you pay 100 Euro. And if you use it a lot, you pay 100 Euro.
Happily for the last decade, the size of the base, the pipe, has grown continuously, because a typically large corporate client was using 1GB of output 10 years ago, and now large corporates are connecting 20, 40, or even 100GB. So if you grow, cost management is not a problem. But now we’re at the mid-point of the journey and companies are saying “Okay, I have 20GB, but I’m only using 10 in several places the world. What can I do?”
Tough. In the networking world, when you’re a big company you have lots of network providers. You need one in Asia, you need one in Europe, you need another one the US. You need one for 5G, you need one for places like China or Russia. So if you want in two or three months to reduce that bill by, let’s say 20%, because your consumption is lower by 20%, there’s no way you can do it with the regular networks.
Pay as you go connectivity.
You’re going to tell us that you’re doing something different to that, aren’t you?
Funny you should ask. Yes, we operate a pay as you go model, so if you’re not using network, you won’t pay. If you’re using it, you will pay.
So we have customers that say, “Okay, I understand your model. But I will use 10GB. And even if I don’t use it, I will pay for 10GB. But in exchange, when I use 9, I won’t pay the variable price of 20. And that’s the same for all the cloud service providers. So at the end of the day, if you’re a large corporate, and you moved your core network to people like us three years ago, if you want to reduce your spending by 20%, you just have to lower your consumption by 20%. And it works. You can’t do that with a typical network, sadly.
Hence the importance of cost management – difficult to do with traditional networks, but shop around and there are ways to save.
In Part 2 of this article, we’ll discover more important multicloud management and connectivity trends and how they could save your business money.