What is a Cloud Interconnection?

COVID-19 is impacting all aspects of how we live, work, and play. We’ve written about several of these impacts lately including the rapid increase in the use of cloud computing. As a result of this increase, there has also been a substantial increase in the number of cloud interconnections. But, what is a cloud interconnection?

Let’s start by defining an interconnection is. Google defines an interconnection as “a mutual connection between two or more things”. This definition is fine for describing an interconnection in its simplest form. However, add the word ‘cloud’ and interconnection becomes a lot more complex.

A cloud interconnection is a link for routing information between two separate networks. Each network has its own addressing scheme and its own rules for how things can connect to it. It’s a little like making an international phone call. To make a call to another country you need to know both their dialing system (their addressing scheme) and their country code (the rules for how to connect). You don’t just connect…you ‘inter’connect. You are making a connection between two different telephone networks.

Here’s another reason that interconnections are somewhat misunderstood. The other type of connection is an ‘intra’connection, or a connection within an internal system. This type of connection happens so often that we just dropped the ‘intra’ and simply refer to them as a ‘connection’. It’s certainly easier to use the simpler term but sometimes people forget that all types of connections are not the same. And this is especially true with cloud connections.

Cloud interconnections aren’t as easy to deploy as they seem

Interconnections to clouds have to translate the network addressing from your network to the cloud service providers network. Cloud interconnections also have to be able to meet the security and the technical protocol requirements imposed by the cloud service provider. And every cloud service provider has different requirements. Often, in order to comply with the requirements of the cloud service provider, you may discover that you need to install more network equipment or obtain a new network connection from your network service provider. It’s not exactly simple.

Of course, all of this is complicated by the fact that cloud service providers tell us that we can deploy cloud applications in minutes, and this is true. They just ‘forgot’ to include in their math the amount of time it could take you to interconnect to their cloud. This leads to people thinking that cloud interconnections are as simple as plugging in an Ethernet cable (which is an ‘intra’connection, not an ‘inter’connection).

So next time your boss tells you that it’s quick and easy to turn-up that new cloud-based service, ask her if she’s including the time it’s going to take to build the cloud interconnection or maybe just send her a link to this blog.