Why the cloud is ready for enterprise — but the paths connecting it are not

Major companies are confident they can rely on cloud services to be secure and to provide the compute they require. But it’s still too soon to say that the enterprise cloud¬†infrastructure is complete — first, the cloud industry will have to show it can guarantee quick and reliable access.

According to Lane Patterson, CTO of data center provider Equinix, a reliable delivery pipe is the missing prong of a three-legged stool that — along with storage and compute –is required to prop up enterprises using the cloud, and allow them to fully trust the cloud for their data needs. Speaking at GigaOM’s Structure 2013 event in San Francisco, Patterson added that those pipes, which ensure enterprises don’t have to rely on third parties in the commercial internet, are rapidly coming online.

“Enterprises don’t want to have to hop over all sorts of backend connectors,” he said.

Patterson also pointed to companies like BTI Systems, a network software and hardware provider, as an example of how the cloud industry is addressing the “unpredictable¬†internet fabric” that is holding back widespread enterprise adoption.

Chandra Pandey, VP of Platform Solutions for BTI, also spoke at the event and added his own take on the delivery-pipe issue. He explained that the routes connecting the cloud don’t have to be uniform, but that they can be thought of as “expressways, highways and service ways” — so long as the enterprises who use them can be confident who is maintaining which route.

The ultimate goal, according to both cloud architects, is to provide enterprises with defined and reliable pipes that allow them to access their applications in a nearby cloud. For instance, a European company will want defined access to a cloud in Frankfurt or London, while a North American will want access to the East and West Coast.

The panelists also addressed whether software-defined networks are “a loser” as one investor had described them. According to Patterson, SDNs are too open a technology to be a hit with venture capitalists but that they are not a loser as a use case. Pandey added that SDNs are producing clearer APIs and a more standardized interface, which in turn are leading to a faster clip of innovation in the sector.

Check out the rest of our Structure 2013 live coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:
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A transcription of the video follows on the next page