Consolidated Communications’ newest product is designed to mitigate the risks in connecting a business to the cloud, by offering enterprises a dedicated line to some of the industry's largest cloud providers.
“With this solution we give them a direct connection, from their location, through our network, to the cloud, and then a direct connection through the cloud to the cloud service provider,” Consolidated Communications product manager Mark Bolar told CRN. “So it's not being mixed with other people’s traffic, it's not subject to the security constraints that might be out on the pubic internet. It's safer, more resilient, and, in addition it's afforded a better quality of service because there’s no one else’s traffic going over that connection. It's just the customer's and what they’re doing back and forth with that cloud service provider.”
The Illinois-based cable provider created Cloud Peer Connect in partnership with Australian company Megaport. Bolar said the deal was struck after Consolidated Communications acquired cable provider FairPoint Communications, which had been in talks with Megaport.
“We’re leveraging Megaport’s relationship in the data center industry,” he said. “They’ve gone out and established a presence in data centers worldwide and they’ve also created interconnection agreements with a number of cloud service providers, that happen to be co-located in the same or similar data centers as they are, worldwide. Through our relationship with Megaport, we’re able to leverage their interconnect, aligning that with our systems and tools and a lot of our access relationships, in the markets where we participate.”
Currently, Cloud Peer Connect lets customers connect to Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, GoogleCloud, or OracleFastconnect, but it's looking at expanding to other services, Bolar said. He said Cloud Peer Connect also lets customers choose the size of the connection.
“As a company we provide a lot of bandwidth options,” he said. “They can predetermine the size of bandwidth pipe they want to have -- and then different cloud service providers have their rules about bandwidth they afford as well – so matching our options with cloud service provider options, the customer has varying degrees of bandwidth they can purchase from us for that pipe, from maybe 100-megabyte circuit up to say a 10-gigabyte path.”
Traditionally, if a business wants to connect with a cloud provider it could use the public internet and establish an IT connection, but since that data is mixed with the traffic of everyone on the internet, it is less secure, Bolar said. Because the Cloud Peer Connect line is dedicated to the customer, there’s no other traffic, and thus, no way for bad actors to tamper with the customer’s connection to the cloud.
“It’s a tethered line, we give them a physical connection from their location, one specific location, as a private connection, through our network, to our data center point of presence, and then it's continued as a private, virtual cross connect circuit over the Megaport fabric, that reaches all the way to the cloud service provider,” he said. “That traffic is never mixed with any other customers' traffic. So the security aspect there is it keeps other customers, or other people, from having the ability to penetrate into that.”
Consolidated Communications, No. 36 on the CRN Solution Provider 500, said the new product will be offered to all of its existing cloud customers, as well as those who want to move their IT infrastructure into the cloud. Bolar said the firm sees the most opportunity in the finance, health care, government, and insurance indutries. The company has turned on one point of presence for Cloud Peer Connect in New England. By the end of the summer, it expects to be running in Dallas and Kansas City as well.