What is cloud connectivity?
Ten years ago, digital disruption of business sectors was just beginning. Hit fast-forward, and according to Gartner, by the year 2025, 85% of companies will embrace “cloud-first” models to execute their digital strategies.1 But implementing the best strategy to connect all of the applications and tools to the cloud—the cloud connectivity strategy—that aligns with your cloud operating model is challenging. There are lots of options for connecting: public internet, cellular connections like 5G, and physical interconnects such as fiber and ethernet. To choose the right cloud connections you’ll need to understand the risks and benefits of your options.
Understanding and correctly deploying your connectivity options can help you avoid pitfalls and keep your cloud spend on track. It’s also key to accomplishing your cloud strategy goals. Migrating to cloud-based voice and collaboration tools, efficiently managing widely-deployed office applications, and enabling communications between devices will result. In addition, having this understanding will also help ensure data security, tracking deployments, usage, and managing other costs.
Enabling a multi-cloud strategy through cloud connectivity
With the rise of hybrid work, a greater dependency on mobility and the proliferation of devices across industries through the Internet of Things (IoT), the cloud is becoming a business priority. Businesses are evolving from single cloud to multi-cloud strategies. They’re connecting to multiple hyperscalers—companies that provide data storage and processing, plus cloud, networking, and internet services. An effective multi-cloud strategy enables the many tools, applications, and the “as a service” model that fundamentally changes the way companies operate and connect, and how they manage related expenses.
There are many benefits to a multi-cloud strategy. It can help you address a shortage of qualified IT staff. Your internal staff can collaborate with third-party experts as needed in the cloud. But enabling such collaboration in a way that’s also cost-effective and secure adds pressure for business leaders. And when cloud workloads—the applications, services, and capabilities that operate on a cloud resource—are shared between environments, it can be a struggle to maintain a strong security profile across the business.
High-quality cloud connections paired with an ultra-fast, flexible, and secure network are the foundation for a successful cloud transformation. A modernized network built on fiber and cloud connectivity that meets the needs of your workload are just as crucial as the data moving between the tools and applications to the cloud.
What is cloud connectivity?
Cloud connectivity is the process of using the network of fiber and 5G to connect tools, applications, machines, and other technologies to cloud service providers (CSPs). These are the third parties that provide cloud resources like processing or computing, storage, platforms, and application hosting. Think of cloud connectivity as your on-ramp to the cloud. Your cloud interconnections route data between your tools and applications in the cloud itself. How your business builds a cloud connectivity infrastructure depends on your cloud workloads.
A reliable, secure, cloud connectivity provider supplies the foundation for connecting with the CSPs that hold and process your data. It’s important to be mindful that the services your CSPs provide align with the features you have prioritized for your cloud connections. This ensures you can extend your cloud connectivity benefits to where your data is stored. Questions you might ask are:
- Are your CSPs storing or backing up data?
- How critical and sensitive is the data?
- How secure must it be?
- Are they providing a platform for hosting an application?
- How important is access, speed, and latency for your data?
In addition, your cloud workloads will help you determine which service providers you choose and how you connect to them.
You also have to think about whether your network is able to support your cloud architecture. Outdated networks may not have the qualities needed to move high-volume application data from the device to the cloud. For this reason, adopting cloud transformation requires that you first assess your current network capabilities before adopting a multicloud strategy. Some things to consider:
- Are you connecting machines like routers, switches, and servers to the cloud?
- In addition to your on-site connectivity, how many hybrid or remote workers, devices, and applications are connecting?
- How much data are you sending and receiving?
As you build cloud connectivity architecture, you’ll begin to realize the agility you’ll gain. Cloud resources are virtual and, therefore, more flexible. You can connect to the cloud on-demand and scale up or down quickly.
Whatever your objective—efficiency, innovation, visibility, and control—having the right cloud connectivity is key to realizing your goals to expand cloud adoption across your business. Starting with realistic goals and objectives leads to a sound strategy and implementation plan that includes the best cloud connectivity choices for your business.
Cloud connectivity enables you to adopt evolving technologies quickly
Today’s tools and applications generate and process more data than ever—massive amounts at times. To function effectively, these digital technologies demand speed, security, low latency, and flexibility that traditional networks just can’t meet. Business internet has these attributes by nature, so it can support digital technologies and cloud-based, as-a-service models that have become widely adopted.
The average employee uses 36 cloud-based applications per day.2 In enterprises, 67% of the infrastructure is cloud-based.3 This equates to hundreds or even thousands of applications. These multi-cloud environments depend on reliable, robust cloud connectivity that connects the applications to cloud workloads.
As business needs change, IT leaders need the ability to quickly change which technologies they use. In its U.S. Future of Cloud Survey Report, Deloitte notes that leaders who are satisfied with their cloud investment success tend to use a multi-cloud strategy.4 They don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, they effectively match the workload to the appropriate cloud connection.
With a reliable cloud connectivity strategy in place, you can implement a more comprehensive use of technologies like IoT. You’re also better positioned to adopt emerging tech like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, which rely on the cloud to store data. Effective cloud connectivity enables you to unlock your business’ capabilities for efficiency, productivity, and innovation.
The security benefits of reliable cloud connectivity
As technology evolves, so do cyber risks. While adding more tools and applications to your network and through to the cloud have undeniable benefits, these vast number of connections also increase your security exposure. You can mitigate these risks by shifting data processing and storage from the traditional data center to a cloud environment closer to where it’s needed at the network edge. This means you have a faster processing time to access the data, which is critical in tasks that require low latency.
Security starts at the network. Cloud connectivity based in a modern, fiber network offers better core security. It also allows for more options and flexibility in the types of cybersecurity services and protections that can be applied to various workloads and your data.
In addition, when data is stored in the cloud, it’s encrypted to keep safer from cybercrime. Quality cloud connectivity reinforces this through the network itself. If each device isn’t cared for properly, it can create a security gap. Fortunately, fiber and a reliable cloud connectivity provider can help to address these gaps and set the foundation for the IT team to focus on tasks such as ensuring security updates and patches are applied in a timely manner.
Key characteristics of public, private, and hybrid clouds
There are two options for cloud adoption: public cloud and private cloud. There’s also the option for a combination of the two, a hybrid model. With each of these, you can choose to use a public internet connection or a dedicated private one.
Public cloud – pros and cons
As the name suggests, public cloud services are available for anyone from individuals to multi-national corporations to use. Typically, customers connect to the cloud service provider over the public internet and pay using a subscription plan or a usage model. Public clouds are considered fast and easy to set up. The downside is that performance can suffer because you are sharing physical hardware, bandwidth, and other resources with others. Public clouds typically don’t offer the security, reliability, and visibility that you can expect from a private cloud.
Private cloud – pros and cons
Private cloud connections offer more control and customization compared to a public cloud connection. They also tend to take more time to implement and be more costly compared to public clouds. Within private connections, your solutions can be physical interconnects or software-defined. Physical connections provide the highest levels of throughput and security.
Software-defined connections are more flexible. Specifically, software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) enables you to can connect on-demand and add pre-configured Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) to handle routine tasks like routing, load balancing, and more. Whichever you choose, private connections are designed for the levels of speed, processing power, and low latency you need.
Private connections also provide more access into metrics and performance than public connections. They also offer a range of options for managing them. If you choose a fully-managed option, your cloud connectivity provider will configure and manage your cloud connections for you. You can also opt to configure, monitor, and manage them in-house. Your IT team can determine how much control over your private cloud connections it would like maintain.
Hybrid cloud – pros and cons
A hybrid cloud uses both public and private solutions. For example, you may have non-critical applications hosted in the public cloud while tools and applications that use sensitive or proprietary data are hosted in one or more private clouds.
A hybrid cloud solution that combines both public and private connections and multiple cloud connections makes sense for many businesses. Hybrid multi-cloud solutions reflect the workloads they support. The more diversity of connections you have to the cloud, the more likely you are to have different needs in terms of speed, security, and reliability. To best meet those needs you’ll need to employ a hybrid model that uses both public and private clouds and more than one CSP.
Driving business success through sustainability
Stay ahead of regulations and reduce energy and resource consumption. Learn why sustainability is important for business and staying resilient in a crisis.
Cloud connectivity myths
Although cloud connectivity seems to be straightforward, there are a few myths about how it works, what’s needed for it to function properly, and what it can provide. Not all cloud connectivity solutions are created equal and what works for one business may not work for another. Let’s take a look so you can better assess what may be right for your business.
Myth 1: The public internet delivers low-latency cloud connectivity
Using the public internet to connect to the cloud is the easiest path to the cloud because of the low barrier of entry and lower cost. But this option is not optimal for a few reasons. First, it’s not reliable since the internet can introduce potential latency and network bottlenecks.
Second, the public internet is unpredictable, with random spikes in demand and variations in network capabilities that create performance inconsistencies. For financial applications that require real-time data, low latency is a critical key performance indicator (KPI) for the organization.
There’s a more reliable way. A private network solution extends to the cloud and offers cloud benefits such as scalability, agility, and reliability.
And about those perceived lower costs? Many people assume a public internet connection is the cheapest option. What you may not realize, though, is that CSPs often charge an egress fee each time you move data out of the cloud or out of one data center and into another. They’re also known as bandwidth or data transfer fees. These fees are in addition to those you pay for cloud storage and computing, and they can add up quickly.
Myth 2: Data center cross-connect to the cloud is easy to manage and deploy
One of the go-to cloud applications is data storage and backup. In other words, moving data out of physical data centers and into the cloud. Connecting to the cloud requires significant time and IT resources if you opt for the on-premises model. Let’s look at the steps required to enable and maintain each cloud service provider (CSP) connection with this method.
1. You need to purchase the router and the colocation space from a data center operator.
2. You need a dedicated IT resource to facilitate and manage the connectivity.
3. Over time, the equipment will need to be serviced and upgraded.
Not only do these costs add up, but you repeat each of these costs for each cloud service provider you want to connect your business to. When you multiply the costs by two or three, this approach is costly and complex.
Myth 3: The internet provides secure cloud connectivity with end-to-end visibility
Connecting to the cloud directly through the public internet can be unreliable and unpredictable. It’s also not secure. You have limited visibility and control over how the data is being routed. That makes you more vulnerable to cyberattacks such as distributed denial of service (DDoS). This can result in disruption to your business, possibly including lost sales and customer trust.
Examples of cloud connectivity in industries
In all industries, cloud connectivity and cloud transformation enable the adoption of technologies that improve efficiency, productivity, and data security. Here are a few examples of industry-based opportunities:
- Enable the smart factory for a more informed and efficient factory floor.
- Implement predictive maintenance to cut downtime costs.
- Improve fleet management and logistics planning for better asset use and efficient truck rolls .
- Track vehicle and assets to help control loss.
- Expand record-sharing across a patient’s medical teams for easier collaboration and better care outcomes.
- Adopt Internet of Things to monitor and track equipment and devices shared across facilities.
- Adopt more efficient and quality-controlled inventory management to serve customers better.
- Safeguard employees and assets with real-time monitoring and security measures.
- Provide more robust services and better support to customers for a higher quality experience.
- Support secure hybrid and remote work and collaboration.
Finding the right cloud connectivity for your business
Building digital connections for business collaboration anytime, anywhere has never been more important. When considering a cloud connectivity solution, keep in mind the business outcome you want to achieve, not just the connectivity task at hand.
As businesses shift workloads to the cloud and their infrastructures become more distributed, connectivity can quickly become complex and difficult to track—let alone manage. AT&T Business streamlines multi-cloud connectivity. We help you reduce complexity by taking a holistic view and providing a flexible, on-demand approach across your network, devices, clouds, and locations.
Starting with our strength as a network provider, we provide end-to-end solutions, from your devices and locations served by wireless or wireline connectivity to your data in public or private clouds. With up to 99.999% uptime, our network is reliable and resilient—the best one for your critical cloud-based applications. We’ve pioneered software-defined edge and cloud networking services that make connecting on-demand fast, flexible, and secure.
Our deep learnings across multiple leading vendor solutions and transport technologies enable us to offer you more options to suit your business. Add to that, our extensive library of tools, templates, playbooks, reference architectures, dashboards, designs, and implementation plans give you even more flexibility. Together, these benefits make our solutions the most comprehensive and enable you to fuel acceleration, reduce risks, and transform your business.
While reliable, secure, networking and connectivity is the foundation for successful cloud connectivity, there are a few other elements to consider to build a cloud-first strategy. That’s why our solutions also feature:
- Deep integration with a robust ecosystem of cloud service providers and on-net datacenters
- Access to all public cloud regions and many SaaS/app providers
- Intuitive and easy-to-use online visibility and management tools with transparent pricing and contracting
- Layered approach with built-in network security and easy integration with add-ons like firewall and threat detection
Work with us and access a community of cloud experts with a proven record supporting thousands of customers for their cloud connectivity needs.
Why AT&T Business
The key to realizing virtually seamless cloud transformation is having the right connectivity. Whether you’re migrating to the cloud or evolving to multi-cloud, connect with confidence. Let our experts work with you to solve your cloud connectivity challenges and accelerate outcomes. Your business deserves the AT&T Business difference—a new standard for networking.
From simple to complex, AT&T Business can help you connect to the cloud with reliable, and secure cloud connectivity solutions. To learn more, contact your AT&T Business representative or visit https://www.business.att.com/portfolios/cloud.html.
1“Gartner Says Cloud Will Be the Centerpiece of New Digital Experiences,” Gartner, November 10, 2021, https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2021-11-10-gartner-says-cloud-will-be-the-centerpiece-of-new-digital-experiences.
2“Cloud Computing Statistics in 2023,” SaaSworthy, January 1, 2023, https://www.saasworthy.com/blog/cloud-computing-statistics.
3“Jack Flynn, “25 Amazing Cloud Adoption Statistics : Cloud Migration, Computing, and More,” Zippia, June 22, 2023, https://www.zippia.com/advice/cloud-adoption-statistics/.
4Deloitte US Future of Cloud Survey Report, Deloitte Development LLC, 2022, Accessed August 15, 2023, https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/consulting/articles/cloud-strategy-innovation-survey-report.html.