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How to Improve Performance With Data Center Cross Connections

By: Ernest Sampera on April 3, 2019

Organizations are increasingly looking to colocation data centers to meet their networking needs. According to IDG research, 65 percent of companies already utilize a third-party facility as part of a multi-data center strategy, and the colocation model seems sure to gain velocity going forward.

One of the key reasons for this trend is the versatility offered by these facilities. As carrier-neutral environments, they offer rich connectivity options that allow companies to enhance their own services. Among the most popular of these services is the use of cross connections to improve network performance.

What is a Cross Connection?

While the term “cross connection” seems to imply something indirect, it is actually just the opposite. A data center cross connect is a direct, point-to-point connection between two hardware assets in a facility. Although direct connections to vendors outside a data center are possible (such as Microsoft’s Azure ExpressRoute), a single cross connect cable is most commonly used in a carrier-neutral data center to directly connect a colocated server to a cloud or internet service provider.

As a point-to-point connection, a cross connect consists of a physical cable running directly from one server to another. It completely cuts out any intermediaries and ensures that nothing stands between the customer and a vendor’s respective networks. Since interconnect cabling is done within a closed data center environment, they completely avoid the public internet, ensuring that transmitted data remains completely within the connected networks.

Reduced Latency

One of the biggest advantages of a cross connect cable is reduced latency. Slow connections are generally a byproduct of distance because it takes data time to travel from one end of a network to another and back again. Although modern fiber optic cables are fast, they’re still constrained by the laws of physics and would suffer some delay even if they could transmit data at the speed of light.

With data demands increasing every year, many companies are turning to cross connect data center solutions to avoid the distance problem altogether. Since both the customer and client servers are located in the data center environment, data only has to travel the short distance between the two. For colocation customers utilizing cloud computing services, interconnect cabling can significantly improve performance.

Better Security

Another major benefit of cross connect data center solutions is the fact that their point-to-point nature bypasses the public internet entirely. Aside from the obvious latency advantages, this also means that less sensitive data is being transmitted over the public internet where it would be susceptible to man-in-the-middle or other forms of cyberattack. Although data in transit is usually encrypted, there is still a chance that it could be intercepted or compromised in some way every time it travels over the public internet.

With a hybrid or multi-cloud solution that creates a direct connection between a customer’s private network and a vendor’s cloud services via a cross connect cable, organizations can drastically limit their data exposure. Sensitive data can remain safe and secure behind the protection of their private network until it needs to be accessed by cloud computing resources. Since the data can travel directly to those resources without having to be exposed to the public internet, these connections greatly reduce the potential of those assets being compromised.

Superior Reliability

System downtime of any kind can be devastating for an organization. Even a few seconds of downtime each month could result in significant financial losses. While it’s easy to focus on a cloud provider’s SLA when determining system availability, the reality is a bit more complex. Connecting to services of any kind over the public internet introduces a variety of potential failure points. A customer’s cloud service provider may be up and running, for instance, but their ISP may be experiencing outages somewhere in their network.

With cross connect cables in place, only the strongest points of the network need to be accounted for. Plugging directly into a cloud service provider’s servers eliminates potential complications that could prevent a customer from accessing the vendor’s network. For companies that need high performance and high system availability, cross connect data center options are incredibly valuable.

Connectivity Options

While internet-based services have greatly expanded over the past decade, not all services are provided through every internet provider. For organizations located in regions with limited connectivity options, this can put them at a disadvantage with their competitors. Setting up a solution that works around those limitations could be prohibitively expensive, if it’s even possible at all.

Carrier-neutral colocation data centers offer a solution to this problem. The connectivity options within the data center environment allow companies to access the services they need in the most efficient way possible: directly. For customers that need enhanced redundancy, a colocation facility can provide them with multiple internet providers, all available over a cross connect cable that provides the speed and performance they need to better meet their business needs.

With their ability to provide lightning-fast cross connections, colocation data centers are an attractive solution for companies looking to utilize multiple service providers and improve their current performance. When combined with the data center’s ability to build hybrid and multi-cloud deployments as well as offer the latest innovations in edge computing services, it’s easy to see why more companies are turning to colocation to meet their IT infrastructure needs.

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