Data-center-to-cloud, direct-connection platform wins innovation award

The Console networking platform bypasses the public internet to offer subscribers on-demand, one-to-one connections with cloud providers and other partners.

Console Inc. has won this month's Network Innovation Award for its flagship interconnection platform, which spins up virtual one-to-one links between subscribers and their cloud providers -- among them, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, all of which are Console partners.

In addition to facilitating multiple, simultaneous data-center-to-cloud connections, the platform enables collaboration between two enterprises by directly linking their respective networks. Console relies on virtual routing technology and dozens of points of presence around the world to create these one-to-one connections while bypassing the public internet.

SearchNetworking spoke with Console founder and CEO Al Burgio to learn more about how the company's technology enables on-demand, data-center-to-cloud and enterprise-to-enterprise connections with just a few clicks of a mouse.

Note: This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

How does Console help the typical enterprise make data-center-to-cloud connections?

Al Burgio: The Console platform helps enable organizations to completely bypass the public internet and directly connect to a global ecosystem of business-critical partners. This can include cloud infrastructure providers, software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers, supply chain partners and customers, regardless of where on the planet they are located.

We've made it as simple as clicking a few buttons. We've created a platform that allows Company A and Company B to operate as if they were in the same room together with a wire between them -- without any of that data going over public infrastructure. The vast majority of enterprises using cloud or SaaS are still primarily dependent on the public internet for access, which carries constant security and performance issues and concerns.

We've created a platform that allows Company A and Company B to operate as if they were in the same room together with a wire between them.
Al Burgiofounder and CEO, Console

How does the Console platform differ from other data-center-to-cloud interconnect options?

Burgio: There's interconnection 1.0, and then there's interconnection 2.0 -- Console is the first enterprise platform of its kind with this 2.0 focus. In 1.0, there is the need to deploy expensive routers from Cisco or Juniper in each and every market where you need to connect to another organization. That means spending tens of thousands of dollars, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, in each and every market where you have a business-critical partner.

You also need seasoned internet architects [who] know how to program these routers. And that is not 'set it and forget it' -- there is a need to set it all up, configure it, and then manage and monitor it.

By comparison, let's say you're a Console user and you need to connect with the edge of another organization's network in New York. Not only do we provide a private highway to that organization, creating that secure connection, but, instantly, a virtual router is spun out for your exclusive use in New York. The next organization you look to connect to might be in London, or Miami or San Jose, [Calif.] Instantly, in each and every market where you are looking to connect to a business-critical partner, a virtual router is spun out for your exclusive use.

Configuration is auto-generated and injected into that virtual router, and the connection is established. All of this happens in seconds -- an instant private highway -- and data is instantly moved between yourself and your business-critical partner, without having to write the tremendous amount of configuration that you would otherwise have to. 

Can you explain how this changes the demands on enterprise network managers?

Burgio: Using Console, one member of IT or engineering now has the power of 10 -- they just simply need to know how to click buttons. The enterprise itself does not need to have the depth of seasoned architects that it would otherwise have needed to have. It doesn't need to make a significant investment into Cisco or Juniper equipment. Instead, in exchange for an affordable, monthly subscription cost, we give the enterprise access to our entire global ecosystem, which they can connect to with just a few clicks of a button. 

What does deployment look like for a new subscriber?

Burgio: They need just one physical connection, whether it is in their enterprise data center or on their office premises. So, there [are] two ways, in other words, to connect. We have a partner network made up of various data center partners or network service provider partners, with over 170 global points of presence today and growing. So, if the new subscriber already is in one of these points of presence -- within one of those various data centers or colocation centers across the globe -- they can have a connection established onto the platform within a couple of hours. And then, when they have that connection, they simply log onto the platform and start clicking away. Within seconds, they are having data moving between them and another organization.

With the on-premises option, their existing network service provider would likely provide them this long extension cord -- in other words, this private connection -- to the neighboring Console node. And then, once they are on that neighboring Console node, again, they just simply click buttons. And within seconds, they can have direct, separate and secure connections to multiple organizations.

Tell me about the user dashboard. Can enterprises manage their own data-center-to-cloud and enterprise-to-enterprise connections? 

Burgio: Yes. Think of it like LinkedIn, but for enterprise networks. LinkedIn is a place where professionals go. I click a button, you accept and we're now directly connected. In that moment, I really don't know or care where you are standing on the planet -- I just want to be directly connected to you, and I want it to happen right away. We've created the same user experience, but for enterprise networks. SaaS Company A, Cloud Company B, my other business-critical partners -- click, click, click; they accept. We are now directly connected, and data is moving instantly between the two of us, regardless of where the edge of their respective networks actually reside. 
The application has a social-networking feel, because there are profile pages for companies, so you can make sure you are actually sending a connection request to the right company. You can see the points of contact. You could also follow that company, much like on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Your dashboard also shows how much data you're moving between organizations. When you subscribe, you are allocated an overall amount of capacity, and should you need more, you can subscribe to more. On the dashboard, you can further dissect that allocated amount of capacity, saying, 'OK, I'm going to allocate so much to Partner A and so much to Partner B." And so, then, you have this adequate throughput between Company A and Company B for optimal performance and so forth. And you can always adjust that. It's scalable, so if you want to add more or reduce the amount that you have allocated to a particular partner, then so be it. You would just log in and do that, and within seconds, that is done as well. 
So, you have this dashboard that is giving you a real-time view of how much you are globally consuming of the platform, as well as a more granular view both geographically and of the individual partners that you're sending data between. 

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