29 Aug 2017

Tech Update: Cross Connects

In this the second piece in our three-part series on the importance of a robust and high capacity network to business success today, we look at the role played by high-speed and on-demand cross connects in delivering greater network flexibility, availability and resiliency.

There are multiple types of, and applications for, Cross Connect (CC) technology, all carrying their own unique version of the term.

Flexible CC is a technology that connects two autonomous systems (AS). If the two autonomous systems are hosted at the same DC, high-speed connectivity could be achieved by simply running a DC CC which is simply a fibre lead provisioned between the two demarcation points.

However, if they are not hosted in the same DC, various flexible CC techniques could be employed to overcome the issue.

This means that if our clients have a part of their network in a remote data centre, we can now connect them back to their Brennan IT VPN service without needing to use a carrier WAN service or run a fibre path between the 2 locations. 

Now, the choice between a physical or virtual deployment doesn’t just depend on location, we consider the business requirements, current infrastructures, capacities of the endpoints and, most importantly feasibility and availability of different solutions before choosing the best fit.

Physical Links
While not necessarily the cheapest option, physical links are sometimes the most practical and technically feasible option. There are two main kinds:

  1. DC Fibre CCs (limited to the local DC): This option is suitable for 1 or 10G capacities or multiple fibre links to deliver 40G or 100G.
  2. Dark Fibre: This option could scale from 1G to 640Gbps and could be stretched between 1km -100km distances. There are significant Capex and Opex cost associations as the distance and required capacity grows.

WAN Circuit Cross Connect (CCC)
The other option is to create a tunnel through a shared infrastructure. A tunnel is basically a virtual wire (pipe) through a third-party provider, which is usually transparent in the traffic path!

The most popular types of tunnels (relative to the IPv4 context) are GRE and IPsec (encrypted) tunnels. This practically means creating a tunnel from point A to point B by encapsulating the traffic in new headers at port A, and removing the added encapsulation at point B when the tunnel is going through a public network such as the internet.

While these are great and have special applications, they are mainly used over public infrastructure and have capacity and performance limitations, which would take another full blog post to detail, if you have specific questions about this feel free to contact us.

The other type of tunnel is through a private MPLS or Cloud CC provider. The idea here is, the provider establishes a high capacity, fully-redundant and geographically diverse network and provides customers with a tail to this cloud at multiple locations (called last-mile connection).

Once this has been established, customers can between different sites. At this point, customers can increase or decrease the capacity of each link, can cancel or provision new VCCs (virtual X -Connects) between available endpoints in a matter of minutes.

Public Cloud VCC
The other application of the VCC is when your (L3VPN) provider has high-capacity connections to one of the ‘cloud connect’ providers.

With the growing number of cloud providers, including Microsoft, Google, AWS, Alibaba, Oracle – and probably Apple soon too – there are a wealth of options. It’s best to think of a cloud connect provider as a ‘multi-point transit’ provider, which has physical to all possible providers at multiple locations. This makes sense as all cloud providers can be accessed via the one pipe.

It’s also important to note that using standard APIs, end-to-end circuits can be created in a matter of seconds.

On-demand Provider to Provider CC
Suppose you need to transit from one provider to another. Naturally, you can’t afford this process to take all-night. Rather, it needs to be done quickly.

In this case, an on-demand VCC can be created linking the old and the new providers, creating a bridge during the transition period, which you could retain as a permanent solution, should you decide not to terminate it at the end of the process.

At Brennan IT, we are committed to constantly improving and evolving our product offerings to reflect today’s dynamic, fast-moving business environment. And we fully understand that every organisation is different.

Our skilled and certified pre-sales, engineering or architecture teams look forward to answering your toughest questions, so feel free to give us a call to see how we can craft a network solution that’s just right for you.

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