Fady MasoudFady Masoud is Senior Advisor for Technical Marketing within Ciena's Portfolio Solutions Group responsible for data center interconnect (DCI) solutions. He is co-author of the Experts Guide to OTN and brings 20 years of expertise and insights on architecture and requirements of next-gen optical platforms.  This article originally appeared in Network Computing.

As cloud applications, devices, and traffic grow, the networks between and within your data centers may be showing their age.

According to Ovum,   there are more than 6,500 data centers worldwide. The top 20 global   cities have more than 2,200 data centers, some containing more than 100   facilities within their metropolitan boundaries alone. These data   centers are the heart of our digital economy, and the connectivity   within and between them is the key to application performance. Here we   outline eight key reasons it might be time to revisit that   infrastructure.

1. You're planning to move critical business functions to the cloud.

According to Forrester Research,   the public cloud market is estimated to reach $191 billion by 2020.   Cloud services enable convenient, secure and on-demand network access to   a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly   provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service   provider interaction. However, from software testing and customer   relationship management to virtual machine migrations, those   mission-critical cloud applications will dictate how networks are   built.

2. Routine storage backup to your off-site data center takes days instead of hours.

DCI Market Insights Report download promoIn current cloud deployments, the network is rigid, static and often   un-optimized for the type of connectivity required by the various   building blocks of the cloud network. Link capacity is pre-set between   endpoints based on the estimated amount of traffic to be carried across   the network. This capacity remains unchanged regardless of the state of   the cloud network (time of day, congestion on certain links, etc.). For   spans that require some high-bandwidth connectivity, network planners   tend to "over engineer" these links with extra capacity that is often   not needed.

Moreover, almost all network operations -- such as setting up and   tearing down a connection between two sites, increasing the bandwidth of   a certain span, etc. -- require manual and cumbersome operations that   negatively impact the performance of the cloud network. To address these   challenges, the network has to be a dynamic pool of resources for the   various applications in the cloud environment, operating in a   "client-server" mode of operation where the hardware and software   (application layer) can automatically and autonomously interact with the   network to perform a specific task.

3. Last week's VM migration brought the entire corporate network to a standstill.

Virtual machine migration can be used for workload balancing of hot   spots to less busy sites or move processing power closer to the   applications requesting it. For example, an occasional VM migration   would take 1.5 8-hour days to migrate 10 VMs with approximately 500G of   data between two sites using a 40 Mbps connection in a static transport   network. The flexibility provided by a more dynamic network allows the   creation of a temporary high-bandwidth connection (such as 1,000 Mbps)   for the duration of this task, reducing the migration time from 1.5   8-hour days to 66 minutes in a fully automated environment.

4. You've got corporate data stored in five different data   centers throughout the metro, and it would be faster to take a cab to   the data center to transport data than to send it over your existing   connection.

The proliferation of services and applications that require instant   access to content has been the main driver behind the ever-growing   demand for data centers in metropolitan areas – with the goal of pushing   content closer to the end user. The enterprise migration to cloud has   also fueled the deployment of data centers across a variety of   applications, such as site mirroring or backup. Other services, such as   email or web pages, do not require instant access, so they can be hosted   from data centers in lower cost, remote areas.

Your network manager should not need to camp out in the data center   for a week when he needs to provision a new connection between data   centers, when he could just use a mobile device to configure a modern   solution. Data center networks are constantly changing, resulting in   traffic trends that are difficult to predict, given the spontaneous   access to the resource pool by a wide variety of users and applications.   If your network manager is spending most of his time in camping gear, a   better option would be to look at ways to automate operational tasks   through the use of APIs and associated applications.

5. Your data center is crowded with bulky hardware and cabling, and your energy bill is through the roof.

Rather than bleed capital and operational dollars, it's time to look   at data center interconnects with smaller footprints and lower power   consumption that can scale.

6. Information is the lifeblood of your business, and it must be stored, protected, and easily accessible.

The ever-increasing rate of data breaches has put significant   emphasis on ensuring that data is safe wherever it resides, be it at   rest or in flight between data centers. While disk encryption and   stringent rules for access of stored data are widely deployed to protect   data from intruders, protection is needed for information leaving one   data center to the moment it enters another data center over the   interconnecting network.

7. Your need for timely data is constant, but capacity requirements are unpredictable.

Traffic trends on cloud-based networks are difficult to predict,   given the spontaneous access to the resource pool by a wide variety of   users and applications. A network control plane that can react to   network changes -- such as one of multiple simultaneous failures, a   change in network topology, or an increase in latency in some of the   network's critical spans -- and handles and executes daily operations --   such as bandwidth increase requests, setting up a new connection   between two end-points, or modifying an existing connection -- in real   time, without requiring any human intervention, is the next step.

8. You need your back office tools and scripts to talk with   your data center, and it's just not possible with your current network.

Data center interconnects need to be open and programmable to allow   operators to leverage existing software tools. That way they can   automate manual tasks and extend the IT practices currently used in   servers toward the networking function. An open application development   environment allows data center operators to create, test, and fine-tune   customized applications for their own needs.