Skip to main content

Cloud interconnect - where network and cloud meet

Cloud interconnect – or cloud data center interconnect (cloud DCI) – enables a more agile, efficient and flexible way to build scalable, integrated and dynamic networks to interconnect IT resources across private, virtual private, hybrid and public clouds.

As IT moves to the cloud, new approaches are needed to connect data centers in the emerging cloud ecosystem. Private, virtual private, hybrid and public clouds all have unique benefits to offer. The right approach to DCI can help deliver those benefits, such as control, flexibility, agility, security or lower costs.

Cloud interconnect provides connectivity that is fast, low latency, reliable, secure and cost effective. It offers more scalable bandwidth with reach and flexibility, with the ability to increase and decrease bandwidth as needed.

Multi-site and multi-technology capabilities help to share data, distribute applications and balance workloads. Most importantly, it provides agile, dynamic provisioning with support for orchestration of network resources quickly and easily, particularly across multiple clouds and administrative domains.

The emerging cloud ecosystem

There are several types of cloud and different participants in the cloud ecosystem, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Emerging cloud ecosystem and the different participants

Cloud is a service delivery model, not a product, and the definitions of different types of cloud can be confusing. Some generally understood definitions are:

  • Private cloud: The data centers and DCI network that interconnect them are completely dedicated to and controlled by a single organization such as an enterprise, or a group of organizations with a common interest such as an industry body or a government agency.
  • Virtual private cloud: The organization’s data centers are virtualized, which allows them to include remote IT resources owned by other organizations, such as a communications service provider (CSP) or a carrier-neutral provider (CNP).
  • Public cloud: An Internet cloud content provider (ICP) offers cloud services to organizations to use on a pay-as-you-go basis.
  • Hybrid cloud: This model combines public with private and virtual public clouds, with orchestration of resources across the private-public cloud boundary.

The participants in the cloud ecosystem

There are several different participants in the cloud ecosystem, as shown in Figure 1, including:

  • Communication service providers, who provide managed DCI and cloud DCI services, and use their data center assets and repurposed COs to offer virtual private cloud services.
  • Carrier neutral providers, who are building and expanding their data centers and co-location facilities, particularly in metro areas and smaller cities. CNPs are also implementing private metro DCI for intra- and inter- data center connectivity.
  • Internet content and cloud providers (ICPs), who are building hyper-scale data centers and private terabit DCI to interconnect their data centers on campuses, in metros and nationally and internationally.
  • Enterprises, industries and public sector customers, who are building private, virtual private and hybrid clouds. These organizations use private DCI to build private clouds with control and security. They’re also using CSP and CNP colo facilities to implement virtual private and hybrid clouds for greater agility and flexibility.

DCI for the cloud

Traditionally, DCI networks have focused on bandwidth and latency to ensure business continuity and disaster recovery. But the move to the cloud demands new objectives and requirements. These can best be met with a new type of cloud DCI solution - cloud interconnect – that provides some key capabilities to meet the dynamic nature of cloud, such as:

  • Scalable, flexible bandwidth: Mobility, personal devices, new applications and explosive data growth demand more scalable and flexible bandwidth. Cloud interconnect solutions deliver very high bandwidth — and can increase and decrease bandwidth flexibly as needed.
  • Multi-site, multi-technology, multi-cloud: Cloud interconnect solutions help to share data, distribute applications and balance workloads across different cloud types, and between locations and cloud providers. They provide multi-layer, integrated IP and optical capabilities with high performance, reliability and quality of service, as well as multiple client interfaces to accommodate legacy and future requirements.
  • Agile, dynamic provisioning: Cloud interconnect solutions support orchestration of network resources across cloud boundaries to ramp up resources when and where required (and then ramp them down again). That means they can provision bandwidth and orchestrate network resources dynamically, quickly and easily — between different locations, across multiple data centers and across different clouds and cloud providers.

The benefits

Secure, high-speed cloud interconnect links the different participants in the cloud ecosystem, is critical to the success of cloud and benefits all participants’ cloud strategies.

Communication service providers

CSPs are ideally placed to offer connectivity solutions in the cloud ecosystem. They can use cloud interconnect to:

  • Offer enterprises, CNPs and ICPs cost effective, highly scalable, flexible and high performance solutions to connect data centers, co-location and exchange facilities.
  • Offer metro and long-haul solutions, including dark fiber for self build solutions with service and support, managed wavelength, Ethernet and IP cloud interconnect.
  • Co-locate in CNP facilities to access larger numbers of customers and connect with other CSPs to create cloud exchange and peering points.
  • Connect distributed data centers and COs to optimize resource pools and improve efficiency when delivering cloud services.

Carrier neutral providers

CNPs are ideally placed to be the primary providers of co-location, exchange and peering facilities in the cloud ecosystem. They can use cloud interconnect to:

  • Create larger co-location facilities, connecting multiple floors or buildings to create a larger campus facility (intra data center)
  • Connect multiple buildings or campuses within a metro (inter data center).
  • Creating larger co-location facilities to attract more organizations, CSPs and ICPs, all eager to co-locate and interconnect to better participate in the cloud ecosystem.

Internet content and cloud providers

ICPs are ideally placed to become the primary providers of public cloud services to consumers and businesses, and the main facilitators of hybrid cloud services. They can use cloud interconnect to:

  • Build their own metro and long-haul solutions to connect their hyper-scale data centers.
  • Extend their footprint and reach by co-locating in CNP facilities, particularly in smaller cities
  • Place content closer to consumers to provide better responsiveness and quality of experience
  • Reach more organizations to offer high performance, low latency business solutions
  • Have a more local presence to address the data security and sovereignty concerns that some organizations may have when using public and hybrid cloud services.

Large organizations

Enterprises, industries and public sector are the main implementers of private clouds and the primary consumers of public and hybrid cloud services in the cloud ecosystem. These organizations can use private and managed cloud interconnect solutions to:

  • Build their own private clouds, connect to CSP and CNP facilities to create virtual private clouds, implement hybrid clouds and access public cloud services
  • Place or balance workloads depending on factors such as the level of control and security of data, the performance and latency of applications, and the agility, flexibility and cost profile required.


Nokia offers a choice of cloud data center interconnect solutions to meet the varying needs of CSPs, CNPs, ICPs and large organizations. These solutions provide scalable, high performance and secure cloud interconnect with the capacity, flexibility and agility needed to support different cloud types.


Cloud ecosystem and the role of cloud interconnect white paper

DCI solutions for the new cloud ecosystem TechZine article

Cloud interconnect solutions for enterprise and public sector application note

Our authors look forward to your questions and comments.

Gary Holland

About Gary Holland

Gary is responsible for marketing Nokia's IP and Optical Networks (ION) portfolio to Enterprise, Industries, Government and Public Sector verticals, both direct and through Global Alliance partners. With more than 25 years’ experience in the telecommunications industry, Gary has held senior roles in corporate, portfolio and product marketing, partner and business development and product line management with technology companies including Alcatel-Lucent, Riverstone Networks and Digital Equipment. Gary brings a combination of marketing, partner development and technology expertise to his current role at Nokia.

Article tags