Infosys-Cisco cloud exchange: Cloud connectivity for reliability, performance, speed, and security

Insights

  • Going AI-first requires failsafe and fast connectivity between on-premises and cloud-to-cloud systems.
  • The Cloud Exchange, developed by Infosys and Cisco, enables this AI transformation, providing reliable, high-performance, and secure operations.
  • The Cloud Exchange automatically discovers Infosys cloud workloads and allows for direct connectivity across all regions in a matter of minutes, while completely automating network connectivity from the branch to the cloud, and cloud-to-cloud through middle-mile provider Megaport.
  • The Cloud Exchange creates a business opportunity for Infosys, enabling its clients to deploy a fully managed cloud connectivity service.

Infosys took three years to become a live enterprise, a continuously learning and evolving organization with digital at the core. Its more recent bid to go AI-first requires a secure, high-performance, reliable, and low-latency cloud network infrastructure.

But this can only happen with the right cloud topology and connectivity. The relentless adoption of cloud-native computing necessitates firms to build a robust hybrid and multicloud solution with failsafe connectivity between on-premises and cloud-to-cloud systems.

With sponsorship from Rafee Tarafdar, Infosys CTO, and Purohit VS, Infosys head of Infosys IT, Infosys and Cisco created the Cloud Exchange, a cloud interconnect fabric that ensures reliable, high-performance, and secure operations in the US and India. Directly connecting with cloud service providers (CSPs) such as AWS, Azure and Google Cloud globally via fast, secure private connections immensely reduced data transfer costs and improved performance. This pilot saved almost a million dollars, while latency variance seen for data traffic between CSPs over the internet (20ms to 70ms) was completely taken out of the equation (reduced to a consistent 4ms).

The pilot saved almost a million dollars, with latency variance between CSPs over the internet completely taken out of the equation

This connectivity was made possible through Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN's integration with Software-Defined Cloud Interconnect (SDCI) provider Megaport. Infosys’ Polycloud orchestrator used these capabilities for faster deployment and end-to-end visibility through a technology known as Cisco ThousandEyes.

Limitations of current ways of working

Clients using distributed applications across multiple clouds need fast, secure, and resilient connections. “Latency over the internet was really hampering our development efforts, and we weren’t able to scale to our requirements,” says Purohit VS.

The Infosys IT team examined software stacks used by both the US and Indian teams and found several challenges, including:

  • Lack of automated and simplified cloud connectivity.
  • Dissimilar architecture and security requirements for different CSPs.
  • High costs due to decentralized on-prem connectivity models.
  • High setup, provisioning, and cloud management costs.
  • Onerous intercloud migration requirements.
  • Multivendor lock-in to different connectivity providers on a global scale.
  • Absence of multicloud disaster recovery architecture.
  • Lack of standardized configuration and policy control across different sites.

The biggest ask was to have a one-stop-shop cloud exchange with one-touch deployment capability. Our Cloud Radar 2021 discovered that most companies use at least two CSPs. In fact, the top two cohorts in this study preferred hybrid multicloud arrangements for flexible workload movements between clouds.

But high latency between CSPs, different architectures, and limited bandwidth over the internet hinder organizations on their journey to become a cloud - and AI-first live enterprise.

The Infosys-Cisco solution

Infosys offices on the US East coast and India used to rely on multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) connectivity. With Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN and Megaport’s underlay, using a single control plane (Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN Manager, previously vManage), Infosys now enjoys global-scale traffic routing with faster, simplified, and automated cloud connectivity and low latency in the milliseconds. The Cisco solution is a one-stop shop for deployment, purchase, provisioning, orchestration, and support.

The system automatically discovers Infosys cloud workloads (across all cloud accounts) and network connectivity “plumbed” across branches and data centers, in minutes and not weeks or months. Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN routes traffic over the most efficient path across Megaport’s global infrastructure, with more than 700 points of presence, (a private backbone rather than the internet), ensuring security and reliability (see Figure 1).

Security is paramount in cloud computing, where internal and external threats are common. Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN offers end-to-end traffic segmentation, which enhances security by giving Infosys teams access only to their specific authorized cloud workloads. Telemetry and automation ensure the solution is foolproof and zero touch.

Figure 1. The reference cloud exchange architecture

The reference cloud exchange architecture

Source: Infosys

The cloud exchange architecture delivers significant return on investments (RoI), with costs much lower than internet egress charges (Figure 2).

Figure 2. RoI of Cisco SD-WAN middle-mile optimization with Megaport

RoI of Cisco SD-WAN middle-mile optimization with Megaport

Source: Cisco

The technology stack seamlessly connects AWS Direct Connect, Azure Express Route, and Google Cloud Router, extending on-prem networks into any cloud while establishing connections to SaaS services such as Microsoft 365 and Salesforce.

Catalyst SD-WAN virtualization reduces total cost of ownership through centralized cloud network management, leading to a reduction in personnel and training costs across multicloud environments, while also considerably reducing data egress fees charged by CSPs when egressing over the internet. This reduces shadow IT and improves compliance to global regulatory bodies.

Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN virtualization reduces TCO, along with a reduction in personnel and training costs across multicloud environments

“While Megaport sets the foundation for reliable, low latency, high bandwidth connectivity, Cisco’s Catalyst SD-WAN takes care of routing, end-to-end security and encryption. The integrated solution helps customers with better performance, secure networking and guaranteed SLAs while potentially reducing their TCO when connecting to cloud environments” says JP Shukla, Sr. Director of Product Management at Cisco.

Moving ahead

The Infosys Polycloud platform enables teams to focus on customer-centric development, leading to faster turnaround for business needs. It also simplifies network management and reduces cost and management overload.

The SD-WAN overlay on the Megaport global backbone ensures that traffic stays on the best path, and Cisco telemetry-based monitoring notifies of possible degradation in performance and latency.

As cloud portability becomes an issue in big organizations, the cloud exchange streamlines operations and management. On-prem-to-cloud and cloud-to-cloud migrations are simple, cost effective, and quick. They sharply reduce cloud vendor lock-in. Infosys and Cisco have realized the benefits and are extending this middle-mile connectivity solution to other regions in Europe and Asia and connecting to SaaS services like Salesforce, WebEx by Cisco, and Microsoft 365.

Infosys and Cisco have realized the benefits of this solution, and as of 2023, are extending it to other regions in Europe and Asia

The Cloud Exchange creates a business opportunity for Infosys, enabling its clients to deploy a full managed cloud connectivity service using Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN and Megaport.

This level of automation is a prerequisite for a cloud-first and AI-first live enterprise.

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