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Until recently, the words “agile” and “networking” didn’t really go together. For sure, new Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) solutions are making it easier to design and deploy networks more cost effectively at speed. But, while global interconnect providers like Equinix provide powerful and effective on-ramps to multiple cloud providers, the challenge is still, how to connect securely to those on-ramp locations from any device in any location.
Last week I met up with Justin Day, the CEO of Cloud Gateway. I think I can say with some conviction that I wish I had met him two years ago. At that time I was a Non-Executive Director in an NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, with a keen interest in a project to improve connectivity from about 70 GP Practices into the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN). Putting arcane and archaic NHS procurement practices to one side, concerns about the security of the public internet and a lack of skills in SD-WAN technology meant that a fairly long and expensive exercise of provisioning and implementing an MPLS network was entered into. Using the Cloud Gateway service, we could have securely and compliantly connected those GP practices to the HSCN using existing internet connections and equipment within days. This would not have compromised any move to MPLS later on if strategy had dictated it, in fact it would have made it easier.
‘Last-mile’ connectivity has always been the poor relation. While Cloud Gateway can’t magically improve broadband internet access it does provide a very simple and elegant, vendor-agnostic way of dealing with the cottage industry of different telco contracts and mix of different network technologies, to enable real edge locations to connect securely to the Cloud. Gartner have come up with a new term…Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) for this. As ever, there will be a scramble amongst vendors to position themselves in this new category. Cloud Gateway are wary of doing that, yet I would suggest that what they provide is the very definition of SASE.
Their wariness of being categorised is in part down to the fact that Cloud Gateway is more than an Edge service. Their service sits on servers in two Equinix locations in the UK. This gives them access to unrivalled Cloud on-ramp facilities. Interestingly, it also offers, amongst other things, a very simple way of providing interconnectivity between systems following a merger or acquisition. This is done securely and with clear audit trails that demonstrate continuing adherence to all of the regulatory and compliance concerns that affect the business. It’s not hard to see how this could be an ideal hybrid-cloud connectivity platform.
At Bloor we use the term Big Software to describe how a new technological era in which each of the major capabilities at the heart of contemporary cloud and data centre operations can be created and managed as software, is surfacing innovative capabilities to further transform data and IT management operations and, in turn, further transform the delivery of the mutable enterprise. So it is great to see a company like Cloud Gateway, that is very much a Big Software company, demonstrate how a small organisation, in physical terms, can rapidly address issues that have seemed intractable in the past and create completely new business models.