The Significance of Network on Next Generation Cloud

In a world of always connected people and devices, access to applications and content is taken for granted. After all, isn’t the Internet the most extensive and resilient network? And aren’t the connections on all our devices becoming faster and faster?

Translate this concept into the corporate world and the reality is somewhat different. Having fully embraced the concept of “Cloud” for the advantages like agility and speed to market it delivers, enterprises are now finding that the network connecting them to key applications in the Cloud is mostly outside of their control.

It is true that by selecting the right Internet Service Providers (ISPs) it is possible to reduce the number of “hops” it takes for traffic to move from the end-user to a Cloud application, however what happens when that connection doesn’t deliver the application performance that is expected (or even required to work properly)?

Can an IT Manager ask their ISP to “fix the Internet” and resolve their performance issues? Isn’t the Internet a “best-efforts” network based fundamentally on “net neutrality” that does not allow different types of traffic to be treated differently?

This is partially true. But even though we use a single term to refer to the globally inter-connected networks that we call “the Internet”, individual provider’s networks are engineered in vastly different ways and inter-connections change on a regular basis.

This can have a disastrous effect on applications hosted in the Cloud.

There are a number of solutions that enterprises can adopt to ensure their investment in Cloud delivers the expected value.

Firstly they can select an ISP that has direct connections to Cloud providers and with a global backbone to carry Cloud traffic to all the markets the enterprise operates in. This solution ensures traffic between end-users and Cloud applications does not leave the ISP backbone, therefore avoiding bottlenecks and inefficient routing which are typical of ever-changing peerings on the Internet traffic. However, connectivity remains “best-efforts” and lacks the performance guarantees to provide peace-of-mind.

Alternatively, enterprises can look at direct private connections to Cloud providers via their corporate network. Extensions such as these from private network to Cloud are backed by SLAs and performance guarantees similar to those associated with connecting into traditional data centers. The advantage of private direct connections is that they can be delivered from within the enterprise network to the immediate benefit of all remote locations connected to the WAN, and opened up as if the Cloud platform was “on-net”. And because the Cloud platform connects on a private basis, it increases the security and minimizes the risk of malicious attacks such as DDoS.

A further consideration when migrating applications to the Cloud is data protection and compliance. A recent ruling of the European Court of Justice declared the data transfer agreement between US and Europe, which is known as “Safe Harbor”, invalid. This ruling is likely to have wide implications on how end-user data is processed and where it is stored within the Cloud. The most likely outcome is that enterprises with European operations will have to ensure critical end-user data remain within Europe.

Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) will have to ensure they are transparent with their processes for storing and handling end-user information and will need to clearly specify and control where the data physically resides. The implication is that, due to the dynamic nature of the Internet, enterprises connecting to the Cloud will be increasingly reliant on private connections to their CSPs to ensure end to end control of personal data.

So no matter how extensive or critical your deployment is, a successful Cloud strategy is not just about choosing the right architecture and Cloud provider.

You need the right connectivity too!