Thinking Through ROI of AWS / Azure / GCP Direct Cloud Connectivity

When an enterprise needs to minimize latency or maximize transit bandwidth into a public cloud, Direct Cloud Connects are where enterprises turn.

direct cloud connect aws azure gcp
Matt Pinto

Nov 2, 2022


Does it feel like clouds are gathering on your enterprise’s horizon? You can thank all the cloud-based services (pardon the pun) for that.

But in all seriousness, cloud computing is growing faster than ever, with a 5% market-share increase, year-on-year. An estimated 94% of businesses are regularly using cloud-computing services, and many companies are now reliant on cloud-based computing for core services like email or data security.

Given our increasing reliance on these services and the need to eliminate the less-secure public internet from the equation, Cloud Connects are where people are putting their trust. 


What Is Cloud Connect? 

Cloud Connect is a wide-area-networking (WAN) service that is a direct, physical point-to-point connection, all the way from the customer’s router to a router located at the physical location of the cloud-service provider (CSP), so it’s end-to-end. Think of a Cloud Connect as a point-to-point link with the Z location as as your CSP of choice. With Cloud Connect, customers can add their cloud services directly to their private network.

Cloud Connects are provided by telecom service providers, not cloud providers, but the telecom provider you utilize must be approved by your CSP of choice. More on that below.


Top Cloud Connect Providers 

Each of the major CSPs has a different snazzy title for their Cloud Connect service. (To make matters even more confusing, there are “lite” options, which offer a combination of direct connectivity in the middle mile, with cloud “prioritization” over the public internet on the last mile to the customer’s router.)

But for full end-to-end, direct cloud-computing services, completely free of public internet, the following products are what the main providers offer. 

  • Amazon Web Services = Direct Connect

  • Microsoft Azure = ExpressRoute

  • Google Cloud Platform = Dedicated Interconnect

  • IBM = Cloud Direct Link

  • Oracle = Fastconnect


Who Should Be Interested in Cloud Connect Services?

These services are focused on enterprise situations where a standard public internet connection won’t cut it. 

  • Business-critical and/or customer-facing operations that need reliable, high bandwidth and consistent, predictable latency.

  • Those heavily reliant on cloud-computing services across several departments and the regular transfer of data between different cloud services.

Why Would I Procure a Dedicated Cloud Connection? 

There are some significant advantages for heavy cloud-computing service users.

  • Predictable, 24/7, set-your-watch-by-it connection to your cloud.

  • Completely separate from the public internet, so way better for data security.

  • Dedicated amounts of throughput for your cloud instances, guaranteed in your SLA.

  • Latency between your location and your cloud instance can be quantified as a consistent, expected amount, allowing you to predict and more efficiently account for upload and download performance.


How Do Customers Order Direct Connections to Their Cloud Service Instance?

It’s a relatively straightforward process – once you’ve identified which physical site (or sites, if you’re creating a resilient network with redundancy) you want directly connected to your cloud instance, take a look at your CSP’s list of approved point-to-point service providers.

As you can see from this list of IBM Cloud Direct suppliers, there’s a lot of the usual suspects on there – there’s a strong possibility you’ll find your current service provider on the list.

Get in touch with one of these service providers (perhaps via Lightyear to save some time, cough cough), and they’ll be more than happy to provision and deliver the necessary Layer 2 circuit.


Hmm. Seems Like a Lot of Fuss, and Our Public Internet Does a Pretty Good Job Most of the Time. Do I Really Need This? 

Well, that depends on your business needs. We’ve talked about the advantages of a Cloud Connect service – but for some businesses, there are real disadvantages to not having one.

Here are a few examples.

  • If your business requires consistent throughput at 1Gbps or above to ensure effective cloud-service performance (we can help you assess this, by the way) then you’re just not going to get that on public internet, and a Cloud Connect likely provides meaningful ROI for you.

  • Loss of productivity – if you’ve had enough of the deafening desk tapping while your team listlessly watches the Spinning Wheel of Death, then your productivity losses could be greater than you think. You could probably try and measure that time wastage – but then you’re losing even more productivity (and you shouldn’t expect “Boss of the Year” Christmas cards).

  • Metered data transfer is often a feature of cloud-computing services – which means that you’re potentially losing money, as your CSP charges you for every gigabyte and that leaky old public internet slows to a trickle. Investing in a direct connection could end up saving you money (and getting you all those efficiency gains, too).

At the end of the day, Cloud Connects are priced just like regular point-to-point WAN links (function of distance, bandwidth, construction cost, etc.), so ROI will depend on the cost of your specific link relative to the losses you may be experiencing as a result of your utilization of the public internet for cloud connectivity.

Need some help thinking through this? Configure a cloud connect via our software, and we will either help you get price quotes or think through whether or not a cloud connect makes sense for your need.

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