Mark Casey is President and CEO of CFN Services.
Michael Lewis’ book Flash Boys went a long way to capture the technology and physical infrastructure underlying high-frequency trading and the US equities market – how trading applications, equipment, colocation and connections were strategically architected and meticulously fine-tuned to send financial data and trading signals across stock exchanges and liquidity venues in a fraction of a blink of an eye.
The “black box” puzzle that eluded even the largest and most sophisticated Wall Street investors back in 2007, and ultimately transformed the last remaining physical trading floors into the accelerated electronic marketplaces of today, parallels the model now disrupting the traditional enterprise wide-area network.
The Fragmentation Challenge
While ensuring accelerated, high-performance application delivery in a highly fragmented IT environment represents a new challenge for many global enterprises, this is a problem that has been solved in the global capital markets.
The deregulation of the US financial markets over the past 10 years drove the fragmentation of liquidity, changing the market structure of securities trading and resulting in the creation of a complex and highly fragmented global electronic marketplace.
With infrastructure distributed across hundreds of liquidity pools, located in different places, connected via high-speed fiber or microwave networks, trading firms are able to move large volumes of data and execution orders in very specific and consistent ways – at latencies that can be measured at the millisecond, and even nanosecond-level.
It’s in the quest for speed and reliability that capital markets participants mastered the optimization of networks, data delivery and application performance across globally distributed platforms - solving the fragmentation challenge.
The Disruption is Real: Enterprise Apps Are Moving to the Cloud
Although running applications outside enterprise walls once raised serious concerns about security and compliance, Gartner reports these fears have largely been proven unfounded, and the unsuitability of the cloud for business critical services is "one of the top 10 myths in the world of technology."
With cloud adoption accelerating on a global scale, the need for agility is driving enterprises to leverage the public cloud for software-as-a-service (SaaS) deployments and move mission-critical apps to the cloud. However, many are finding their application performance is lagging – and fragmentation is a key reason.
As more enterprise apps move to the cloud, there’s increased fragmentation of the software stack - from the applications and data to the physical locations from where they are served. Modern applications are no longer a single executable running in one place, but a mix of on-premise, public cloud and hybrid apps and services that span in-house and cloud provider environments.
This complexity is further compounded by device proliferation and BYOD. With the workforce no longer tethered to the PBX and enterprise LAN, users access enterprise apps from remote locations, over dozens of public and wireless networks, and from devices operating outside the enterprise IT perimeter.
While enterprises look for big agility gains from the cloud, the complexity of interconnecting and ensuring the performance of this highly fragmented ecosystem stands in the way.
From Wall Street to Main Street: Fragmentation Problem Solved
Mirroring the evolution of technology within the global capital markets, many of today’s digital enterprises are transforming their network, infrastructure and application delivery models to create the foundation for high performance and agility – migrating to next-generation architectures that integrate network and cloud hubs into enterprise data centers and the WAN.
Next-generation network architectures for distributed IT and the cloud are built on a high-performance core anchored on commercial data centers. Gone are the days when the hub-and-spoke architecture of carrier MPLS networks connected users in distributed branch locations back to centralized or regional enterprise-managed data centers.
Today’s highly fragmented application ecosystem requires a footprint of geographically distributed hubs that enable a high-performance global mesh network, optimized for interconnecting legacy enterprise apps with distributed SaaS apps, data and users. Users must be able to ingress and egress the enterprise WAN at multiple points based on their mode of access and proximity to the applications they’re utilizing.
By integrating commercial data centers as hubs into the enterprise WAN, enterprises can extend their core network closer to the network edge and deliver higher levels of performance, reliability and predictability across the WAN. This helps reduce network latency, increase bandwidth and improve application performance.
Commercial data centers also serve as network access points or public peering locations, close to the core of the Internet and a broad range of network, cloud and IT service providers. Moving closer to the Internet core enables more simplified, reliable and direct access to public SaaS, IaaS and other cloud services; and closer end-user proximity delivers better user experience.
This transformative network and application delivery model leverages the same high-performance distributed, global infrastructure and vibrant data center ecosystem pioneered by and used to solve fragmentation and performance challenges in the global capital markets.
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