Data center interconnect (DCI) is becoming an increasingly important strategy in enabling businesses to piece together their hybrid infrastructure. The widespread adoption of cloud-based applications and services, distributed IT systems and processes, continual enterprise transformation, and the borderless nature of the global economy are all driving demand for agile, flexible, and intelligent DCI.

DCI is no longer just about data centers — it’s important for organizations to interconnect their data centers with cloud service providers (CSPs), global internet exchanges (IXs) and their customers’ and partners’ networks. They need the flexibility to connect their physical locations with CSPs and IXs to deliver truly cloud-centric solutions.

However, the legacy approach to DCI no longer matches the needs of enterprises around the world and cannot move fast enough or scale to meet the changing demand. It creates barriers for organizations that are increasingly dependent on connecting diverse data center infrastructure across unique global footprints.

Cloud-centric DCI ecosystems are changing this, with software-defined networking (SDN) fabrics making interconnection simpler, more accessible, ready-to-scale, and flexible. Building scalable, open, and cloud-centric DCI ecosystems without limitations can be a challenge but, when done correctly, will combat data center interconnection hurdles and accelerate business success.

Going Beyond Legacy DCI

The challenge for many businesses is to make the seamless transition from their traditional data center infrastructure to connecting a diversity of data centers around the world seamlessly. Making this transition means they will need a model that is scalable, flexible, and ready to adapt to new and changing demands.

Traditional DCI ecosystems limit a company’s growth and the customers and partners they can interconnect with. This legacy approach was built around multiple suppliers, long-lead times, manual processes and offline “on the phone” procurement. Unlike traditional DCI, a cloud-centric model can be built to match specific business requirements.

As reliance on hybrid cloud grows, global businesses cannot afford to be placed on unnecessary waits and delays. The fact is, a growing number of options now offer a cloud-centric DCI ecosystem that goes beyond legacy networking. Customers are no longer restricted to a single data center environment or having to allocate resources to do it themselves.

A Software-Defined Future

A cloud-centric DCI ecosystem leverages SDN fabric to connect a high-density network ecosystem, enabling interconnections between data centers, clouds, businesses, services, and applications, without any geographical limitations.

Such SDN-based interconnection removes the limits on where and how customers can grow, as businesses gain a single platform to provision these connections with high levels of automation and visibility. On the contrary, a traditional DCI ecosystem restricts their ability to connect flexibly and scale across interconnected data centers.

Most businesses today need the ability to roll out new services quickly across the globe, as well as to optimize their connectivity for their applications. Using an SDN platform, there is no longer a need to manage multiple service providers across different local and regional markets.

Connectivity can be managed in an on-demand, self-service manner. This makes it less resource-intensive to build a functional DCI ecosystem, as businesses have more control over their network infrastructure wherever they need to interconnect.

Visibility and monitoring with real-time analytics into the network performance brings additional benefits for businesses. Regardless of whether it is metro or long-haul DCI, being able to manage the service supported by analytics is a huge differentiator. Organizations can continually adapt and optimize their network connectivity with granular bandwidth options to meet changing needs on an intuitive and intelligent interface.

In the long term, a cloud-centric DCI strategy is a combination of a robust core network, SDN fabric, and an on-demand platform. It is a new networking model built for modern business services and applications, providing further opportunities for growth, efficiency, and simplicity in comparison to traditional DCI strategies.