Windstream’s Enhanced Cloud Connect Service vs Zayo’s/Others (Google Comment)

Backgrounder:

During the early years of public cloud computing/storage, users had few good options to securely connect to the cloud service provider(s) of their choice- unless that same cloud service provider (CSP) offered an IP-MPLS VPN that terminated at its cloud point of presence (PoP).  Both Century Link (via Savvis acquisition) and AT&T offered that access solution for customers of its cloud computing services.

Equinix’s Cloud Exchange and AT&T’s Netbond made it much easier by offering an intermediate network/switching center to connect to any one of several CSPs, which provide good quality, secure cloud connections with the flexibility to change CSPs without re-configuring the customer’s cloud access network.

However, there’s no industry standard API or common set of processes these cloud interconnect service providers follow.  That’s not really a problem as long as they provide secure and reliable connectivity to multiple CSPs.

We examine a few Cloud Connection services in this blog post, including Windstream’s just announce offering.

Windstream Cloud Connect Service:

The Windstream Cloud Connect service now offers software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) and wavelength connectivity. It provides connectivity to Amazon Web Services, Oracle Fast Connect, Salesforce, Google Cloud, IBM Bluemix and Microsoft Azure cloud services.

Windstream Cloud Connect service was launched just over a year ago, with cloud connectivity via: switched Ethernet, MPLS, VPN and point-to-point services to AWS and Azure ExpressRoute.

Speeds currently available for Windstream Cloud Connect range from 50 Mbps to 10 Gbps, the company said in today’s press release. The offering is supported by technical assistance engineers who are available 24/7, the company said.

The company intends to compete, at least in part, based on cost with its Cloud Connect offering. “We are confident that Windstream Cloud Connect will deliver a better and more cost-effective experience for large and mid-sized enterprises than any of our competitors,” said a Windstream executive in today’s previously reference press release.

windstream fiber network
Windstream’s Cloud Connect offered over their national network (Source: Windstream)
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The addition of SD-WAN is seen as a means of reducing costs, while also enhancing network performance by using software to allocate traffic over multiple network connections – typically MPLS and direct Internet access — depending on pre-established parameters and the state of each connection at any point in time.  As many times noted in these IEEE ComSoc techblog posts, there are no standards for SD-WANs and hence no interoperability between them.  They are (by default) single vendor solutions within any telco’s SD-WAN offering.
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Joseph Harding, Windstream’s executive vice president and enterprise chief marketing officer, told Channel partners the offering creates new opportunities for medium and large enterprises across all verticals that are looking to move their traffic to hyperscale providers to enable their cloud initiatives.

“By offering customers this connectivity, we give our partners the ability to meet the growing service and bandwidth needs of their customers,” he said. “With the expectation for cloud services in the United States to double in the next five years, it’s a trend we believe our partners will be interested in.”

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Zayo’s CloudLink Service:

Zayo Group is one of several other network providers offering public cloud connect services.  The company’s CloudLink delivers “the Fast Lane to the cloud that you require – addressing your public internet network connectivity issues. And is delivered on a global network by a trusted, consultative, and flexible partner – Zayo.”

CloudLink provides direct network connectivity to over 50 cloud service providers and over 150 cloud on-ramps globally. Whether you need multiple cloud connections or just one, we utilize our industry-leading fiber communications infrastructure across Dark FiberWavelengthsEthernet and IP Services, including pre-provisioned network connections up to 10Gbps, to deliver cloud connectivity solutions more flexibly, cost effectively, and with greater performance than traditional network service providers and cloud exchanges.

CloudLink as a subnetwork connecting enterprise customers to CSPs via Zayo’s global network  (Source:  Zayo Group)

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CloudLink provides enterprises and data centers with an on-ramp to Zayo’s secure network, supporting high-performance bandwidth options across dark fiber, layer-1, -2, and -3 configurations, and scalable connectivity directly to all major cloud providers. API integration enables efficient provisioning, and as demand increases to actively manage network topologies, software-defined network (SDN) technology will support full automation and dynamic network configurations.

Other Cloud Connect Network Providers:

Many more cloud connect offerings have been announced over the past few years.
For example, Lightower Cloud Connect offers all-fiber networking between a business organization and the industry’s largest cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. From 50 Mbps to 10 Gbps, Lightower can connect customers to CSPs using IP, Ethernet, or Wavelengths, with or without redundancy, to maximize cloud performance.
“Connectivity as a Service”  is available from firms such as Global Capacity.
Mary Stanhope, Global Capacity’s VP of Marketing said in an interview:
“Our business is to provide access network connectivity.  By putting our POPs in key data centers and central offices and then interconnecting over 250 suppliers, we connect anywhere — cable to ILECS, Fiber Providers to CLECs, etc.  We basically manage a network of networks.

Now it’s not a pure resale model.  We will go in very opportunistically and source managed and dark fiber to connect where there is demand.  In fact last year we lit seven metro rings that connected many of the carrier hotels, data centers and ILEC LSOs that we were getting demand to and from.

And then on top of it all we built a Marketplace application that allows our customers to type in an address and we’ll push back to them all the products we have at that address.  And it could be Ethernet, fiber, internet, broadband, cable — you name it.

The final and fastest growing segment is our business services group focused on application, over the top, and cloud service providers.  What we do there is jointly sell the circuit that delivers the application — because the customer really needs both.  So we have customers like 8×8, Mindshift and Thinking Phones.

They bring opportunities to us.  Today most of those guys, particularly the cloud service providers like Google and AWS, aren’t interested in buying the circuit and bundling it.  So it’s a joint sale.  We become the carrier of record for that service.

The Future of Cloud Connect Services:
It’s clear that these Cloud Connect providers will continue to improve their offerings, by providing more connectivity options and choices.  They will enable their enterprise customers to know the status of their networks (including outages and performance monitoring) and manage their service.  That will come as network management systems and software defined networks mature.  Another driver will be greater interoperability between network and back office systems.  Hybrid networks or a “network of networks” need to work as one as far as the end customer is concerned.
References:

One thought on “Windstream’s Enhanced Cloud Connect Service vs Zayo’s/Others (Google Comment)

  1. Google’s Dedicated Interconnect lets you establish a private network connection directly to Google Cloud Platform (GCP) through one of our Dedicated Interconnect locations. Dedicated Interconnect also offers increased throughput and even a potential reduction in network costs.
    “Easy to manage, high bandwidth, private, network connectivity is essential for large enterprises,” said John Veizades, Product Manager of Dedicated Interconnect at Google. “That’s why today we’re announcing Dedicated Interconnect, a new way to connect to Google Cloud and access the world’s largest cloud network.”
    TechCrunch comments:

    These new dedicated interconnects, which are now in beta, allow businesses to set up a highly available, high-bandwidth network connection to the Google Cloud Platform for their data intensive or latency-sensitive services.

    This service goes a step further than Google’s existing solutions like its Google Cloud VPNservice, which allows businesses to create a secure tunnel between their private networks and the Google cloud. Google notes that those connections have a capacity of about 1.5 to 3 Gbps and traffic obviously travels over the public Internet.

    The dedicated interconnect offers a direct line to Google’s network with up to 80 Gbps in bandwidth, but traffic isn’t encrypted and enterprises need to install the required routing equipment in their colocation facilities. Google recommends that companies that want to make use of this service opt for using application-level encryption or their own VPN service. You can’t use the Google Cloud VPN on top of a dedicated connection.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/07/google-gives-enterprises-a-private-on-ramp-to-its-cloud/

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