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Cross Connect, Direct Connect and Interconnect – What’s the Difference?

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is this: “Can you please explain what cross connects, direct connects and interconnects are, and what benefits each offer data center customers and cloud services users?”

Fair enough. Industry jargon can often create confusion rather than clarity.

What is a Cross Connect?

Let’s begin with perhaps the simplest data center scenario to clear things up.

Consider the case of Company X that has servers in a colocation data center as part of its IT infrastructure. It does a lot of business with Company Y, which requires sending and accessing various transactional data such as real-time inventory status, order and billing details and other information to and from Company Y in order to fulfill its contractual obligations. 

As it turns out, Company Y’s servers are colocated in the same data center. While the two companies could exchange data over the public Internet, it’s far more secure, efficient, cost-effective and reliable to establish a cross connect – a physical, hardwired cable (fiber, coaxial, copper and the plain old telephone service (POTS)) between the companies’ servers, creating a dedicated, private connection. 

In this situation, CoreSite’s Cross Connect solution offers far superior performance (essentially unnoticeable latency), security that meets or exceeds industry standards and simple connectivity provisioning.

Creating a cross connect between two companies in a data center provides the performance,robust security, reliability and fast and easy provisioning digital enterprises require.

What is a Direct Connect? (AKA Native Onramp)

It’s likely that your IT infrastructure encompasses a collection of servers and solutions, including one or more public clouds in which you’re storing data and/or running various workloads. 

CoreSite provides our data center customers with direct connections – called “native onramps” – between their private IT assets and major public cloud providers without the need to go through a third-party intermediary.  

Instead, our distinctive direct connect capability provides CoreSite customers with on-net interconnection to AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud, IBM Cloud or Alibaba Cloud, delivering important benefits to customers including:

  • Imperceptible latency, ensuring superior customer experiences
  • Secure access to cloud services
  • Slashed data egress rates (up to 70% cost savings*)
  • Accelerated time to market for new products and services
  • Easy, rapid management of connectivity within your IT infrastructure

What is Interconnect?

As organizations’ digital ecosystems continue to expand, they need the capability to exchange data between their systems and those of their partners, whose IT infrastructure and applications reside in other public clouds. Specifically, they need the ability to exchange data between partners with whom their customers may also want to do business.

For example, consider the scenario of an airline customer who makes a vacation reservation for a flight from Denver to Orlando. While making that reservation, the airline customer may be asked by the customer service representative or by an online prompt whether he or she would also like to take advantage of the airline’s customer loyalty program to book a hotel room and/or rent a car at preferred rates, available because of the airline’s partnership with a specific hotel chain and car rental agency in the Orlando area. 

Should the customer answer yes to either or both of those questions, the customer’s contact, flight details and payment information can automatically be shared with those trusted partners to lock in the arrangements, providing the airline customer with a one-stop, seamless and easy vacation planning experience.

But what if those various companies’ IT systems reside in different public clouds. How might that affect the ability to execute such a multi-participant transaction?

Thanks to CoreSite’s interconnection platform – the Open Cloud Exchange® (OCX) – the answer is not at all.

The OCX streamlines and orchestrates these multiple digital business transactions and sharing of customer data by providing and managing the one-to-multiple cloud connections over our private, software defined virtual network (SDN). The OCX also enables the high performance, robust security and direct connections to the major public cloud providers. As a result, the end-user and soon-to-be vacationer has the superior experience he or she expects. Additionally, the airline and its partners are able to distinguish their businesses and unique value propositions in real world “moments of truth.”

Want to Learn More About CoreSite Data Center Connectivity Solutions?

Download and share this use case to read about IMC Trading’s experience employing CoreSite’s capabilities to interconnect its entire portfolio of IT environments, promote interoperability and ensure its employees have the resources they need, regardless of where needed IT resources reside.

By virtualizing and automating what would otherwise entail creating a complex, bespoke network or employing a third-party networking provider, the OCX enables organizations to focus resources on core business tasks rather than wrangling with complex data connectivity challenges. 

Learn how IMC leverages direct cloud onramps to place workloads in the most appropriate environment to support security, performance and budgetary demands.
The CoreSite Team
Combining expertise, research and thought leadership to inform and advance hybrid IT.