An Interconnection Strategy for Everyone

We all know that interconnecting with other companies’ networks is necessary for meeting enterprise accessibility and agility requirements. But implementing the right interconnection strategy is no easy feat. Something is preventing experienced engineers from leveraging the full power of inter-networking—and we intend to get to the bottom of it.

Read on to learn why interconnection has become such a hot (and unavoidable) topic, where the interconnection skills gap originates, and how your organization can solve that challenge today (no hiring or training required).

Why Worry About Interconnection?

For many in the Enterprise IT space, the word “interconnection” is not one that’s used on a daily basis. Some may not be familiar with it at all. Every one of us, however, is intimately aware of the driving forces behind its growing relevance.

Gone are the halcyon days when all of our users, our PCs, and even our servers lived in a single office, building, or campus on a single LAN. Long ago, we started moving servers out of the closet and into off-site data centers and/or colocation facilities, ushering in the age of the corporate WAN.

Even those days of buying MPLS services and setting up VPNs are, for many of us, a distant memory—or even something that happened before our time. Today we are faced with new and unique networking challenges arising from leveraging the cloud, the edge, the internet of things, and the revolution of large scale remote and distributed work, to name just a few.

In a Word: Deperimeterization

The question so many network engineers face today is one of deperimeterization. Originally conceived as an information security concept, deperimeterization is just now being recognized as a network architecture, engineering, and operations challenge as well. For us network types, deperimeterization means that we are now responsible for the performance of networks we have no real control over. 

How do we ensure user experience when our users need access to NetSuite, Salesforce, Zoom, Slack, Microsoft 365, and a plethora of other cloud applications, typically reachable only over the Internet? How about when those users are connecting from home, or from a coffee shop, or another country? And how do we meet strict internal SLAs for application connectivity when those applications live on some public cloud provider’s network, or increasingly are spread across multiple cloud providers as well as our own on-premises equipment?

These challenges are probably not new to you. What might be new is the name of the solution: Interconnection. To meet today’s networking challenges, we simply must shift our focus from traditional LANs and WANs to interconnection: the management of the interaction between many disparate networks. Understanding and leveraging interconnection is the key to supporting accessibility and agility in your business.

The Interconnection Skills Gap

Being aware of the power of interconnection and the necessity of a well executed interconnection strategy puts you a step ahead of most enterprise network engineers. Knowing is half the battle, as G.I. Joe used to tell me every Saturday morning.

Unfortunately, knowing you must do something is not the same as knowing how to actually do it. And this is where most interconnection strategies hit a brick wall. Connecting autonomous systems together into an internetwork has long been the providence of service providers and has largely been ignored in the enterprise IT space. It simply wasn’t needed in the past.

And since it wasn’t needed, most engineers didn’t seek out the training and experience needed to set up interconnection, traffic engineering, and the related tasks. The average enterprise network engineer has likely never configured BGP (the Border Gateway Protocol, which powers all internetworking). Those who have configured BGP have probably never ventured past the basics (accepting a default route, etc.).

We know that BGP configuration at an expert level is a very niche skill set—which makes hiring for the position a difficult task. The question then becomes: how do we improve our interconnection without spending valuable time and resources on hiring or extensive internal training?

Solving for Interconnection with NaaS

Perhaps, as in so many other cases, the problem actually contains the solution? While many factors have driven the need for interconnection to become a major focus in enterprise networking, adoption of the public cloud looms largest. We have outsourced many of our physical infrastructure challenges to specialized, as-a-service vendors whose sole focus is to solve these thorny problems with teams of experienced experts.

What if we could do the same thing for our networks? As you may have guessed, we can!

Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) is the perfect complement to your existing suite of SaaS, IaaS, and other XaaS solutions. In fact, NaaS can be the “one [aaS] to rule them all.” A proper NaaS can certainly bind them, and not in darkness, but in blazing interconnected glory.

Finding and hiring interconnection experts is a challenge for any organization—and fully training your internal team can be costly and time-consuming. Working with the right NaaS provider gives you instant access to a team of interconnection pros.

As I’ve written previously, PacketFabric is the right NaaS to support the business agility you need today and into the future.

The Bottom Line

Modern enterprise networking is being shaped by cloud adoption, distributed work, and several other trends that all lead to deperimeterization. For network engineers, this removal of the boundary between “my network” and “your network” is driving the need for a well executed interconnection strategy. At the same time, an internetworking skills gap is holding many of us back from realizing the true potential of interconnection. 

The solution for most organizations is to leverage a NaaS provider like PacketFabric to ensure a team of experienced experts supports your accessibility and agility, from the network to the business and beyond.