What is the Middle Mile, and Why Does it Matter?

Recently, we had the opportunity to host Erik Kreifeldt, principal analyst with TeleGeography, on a webinar entitled “The State of the Middle Mile.” Now, if the term “middle mile” isn’t familiar, you’re not alone. It’s a relatively new category articulated by analysts to describe a segment of automated connectivity services between end-user locations and cloud providers. In this blog post, I’ll unpack a bit of what we covered, but to get the full treatment, check out the webinar on-demand.

The Enterprise Cloud Core is the Why

What is driving the rise of a new segment of connectivity? The no duh answer is “the cloud.” But simplistic answers and snark aside, the middle mile is a market response to the formation of the hybrid and multi-cloud core as the center of the new digital enterprise IT architecture. This refers to more than just moving applications to one or more cloud providers, though that is definitely a big part of the picture.

The cloud core is what happens when the nerve center of the business moves from enterprise owned and operated facilities like on-premises data center hubs and spokes of offices, to a matrix of outsourced, multi-tenant colocation data centers, hyperscale and specialty cloud provider regions, and enterprise SaaS providers. The cloud core is the heart of the digital business. It is a distributed digital supply chain, across which ever-increasing flows of user, machine, application and service workflows and large volumes of data must move and shift with agility.

The Cloud Core Must be Agile

Agility is the true raison d’etre of the cloud. Anyone who thinks they are going to “save money” in the cloud is missing the point. Yes, it’s Opex vs Capex, but relinquishing the owning and operating burden of facilities, infrastructure, etc. allows enterprises to move faster in creating value. So much so that according to Accenture, the technology leader organizations growing at 2x the rate of so-called tech laggards, are those that embrace platform change. 68% of tech leader organizations accelerated their adoption of hybrid cloud in the last couple of years.

Connectivity Can be a Major Friction Point

If you’re trying to build an agile cloud core, you can’t ignore the connectivity factor. Slow-to-contract, slow-to-deploy traditional approaches no longer work. In a distributed matrix of cloud, colo, and SaaS, you need to be able to deploy connectivity and bandwidth, shift and change, spin up and spin down, at the speed of the business. Multi-year fixed terms are anathema to agility.

Sure, Internet connectivity and VPN overlays are a fine way to start connecting your cloud, but they don’t scale. VPN tunnels don’t really function over the Internet past about 2 Gbps and encapsulation effectively doubles latency and halves throughput. That’s fine if you’re connecting last mile sites like remote workers or branch offices. But it won’t do for the volumetric workflows and data transfers needed in the cloud core. A better answer is needed.

Middle Mile Ahoy!

Hence, the rise of the Middle Mile. As Erik defined it (and as illustrated below in one of his presentation slides), the middle mile is the connectivity fabric that has become available between the colocation facilities that host all the hyperconnectivity of the Internet and now are the nexus of the hyperconnectivity available on a private, optical networking basis. Middle mile providers now offer this high-speed bandwidth on an automated, self-service basis via portals and APIs. No more long-term contracts as a given. You can now create a matrix of high-speed (1,10, 40, 100, 400 Gbps) connections on-demand, on a short-term subscription basis.

The WAN Becomes Cloud

While partner-hosted direct connect is super easy and fast, sometimes 10G just isn’t enough. PacketFabric offers the industry’s leading middle mile service portfolio. We built a 50+ Tbps global network, completely automated from the ground up, and provisioned on-demand via self-service portal and API. You can get carrier-class, high-speed connectivity between hundreds of colocation data centers, cloud providers, Internet Exchanges, and SaaS, in minutes. Via PacketFabric, you no longer need to set up separate contracts and operational management of connections to AWS, Azure, GCP, IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, Webex, etc. One interface gives you a massive breadth of connection options, at cloud-scale, with five nines reliability.

Learn More

If the concept of the middle mile intrigues you, check out the TeleGeography webinar on demand. If you know you’re ready to evolve how you connect your cloud core, you can reach out to us to request a demo, or just register on our portal and get started today.