SoftLayer Launches Direct Network Access Service for Cloud Customers

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IBM’s cloud infrastructure subsidiary, SoftLayer, has launched Direct Link, a new service that lets customers to establish a private link between their existing IT infrastructures and their SoftLayer compute resources.

This service had been offered to customers on an individual basis, but, as of Tuesday, it will be available as an add-on for any customers starting at a flat fee of $147 per month for 1Gbps and $$997 per month for 10Gbps.

By having a direct network connection between resources hosted by SoftLayer and those hosted elsewhere, customers can reduce their network costs, increase their bandwidth throughput, and provide a more consistent, reliable and secure network because it is not shared with the general internet.

SoftLayer’s Direct Link is similar Amazon Direct Connect, a service it announced in August 2011 allowing Amazon cloud customers to establish dedicated network connection between the cloud and a data center, office or colocation environment. Since then, it has been steadily adding network partners to offer this service across different regions.

SoftLayer’s Direct Link is generally available across all SoftLayer data centers, including its latest one in Hong Kong, and 18 global Points-of-Presence, so there is already considerable geographic span. Getting access to the dark fiber required for this service has required partnerships with multiple transit providers, which has, in turn, led to greater connection redundancy.

It’s also important to note that Direct Link is available for SoftLayer’s public cloud as well as its Bare Metal servers, which offer a greater degree of customization, transparency, and predictability than on public clouds.

“Our platform was architected from the beginning so that our public cloud and our Bare Metal cloud are effectively on the same network,” Marc Jones, SoftLayer’s VP of Product Innovation, said. “Customers have the ability to mix and mash public cloud and Bare Metal.”

He noted that public cloud is good for applications where elasticity and rapid provisioning are important. Bare Metal is often used for applications and services that demand high performance, and may encounter issues such as disk I/O constraints if deployed on a public cloud.

Direct Link is geared towards customers who need to get data into and off of SoftLayer’s services fast. A company might do sophisticated data mining and expect nearly immediate results, or they might might keep a disaster recovery environment in-sync with their production environment without worrying about bandwidth constraints.

Customers, Jones said, are “able to fine-tune that Bare Metal to meet their needs, and then mix and match that with public cloud, and you really get the best of both worlds both natively on the network, and now with Direct Link you have the capability to leverage all of that and tie that back to your on-prem or your colo.”

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