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Are you ready for networking in the cloud?

Jim Metzler | Nov. 1, 2011
The two primary forms of public cloud computing, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), are both growing dramatically in popularity. Over the last few years, the primary focus of the IaaS providers has been on offering the basic compute and storage resources required to run applications.

However, just as important is whether the solution actually provides the benefits that drive IT organizations to use public cloud computing solutions. The primary benefit of using a public cloud computing solution is lower cost.

The cost information provided by the service provider should give the IT organization all the information it needs to determine whether or not the CNS provides a compelling cost advantage.

The second most important benefit is being able to reduce the time it takes to deploy new functionality. One way for an IT organization to evaluate the agility of a cloud service provider is to identify the degree to which the vendor has virtualized their entire data center infrastructure.

For example, have they implemented virtual networking functionality such as that provided by Vyatta? Virtualization is important because a virtual infrastructure is notably easier to initialize, scale and migrate than a physical infrastructure is.

Representative solutions

IT organizations have expressed more interest in VoIP and unified communications (UC) than they have in any other form of CNS, according to our research. For example, Fonality is a company that is focused on small to midsized businesses and has already delivered more than 2 billion phone calls across the cloud.

While having numerous providers can result in benefits to consumers, it also creates some challenges. These challenges include the fact that providers tend to use different names for their services, have notably different business models and offer a very wide range of functionality - everything from basic telephony to call center support to HD voice.

The primary role of a CNS that offers network and application optimization is to provide functionality similar to what is provided by premise based WAN optimization controllers. Virtela is an example of a CNS provider that offers optimization as well as other services, including security and management.

There are three distinct use cases for this class of CNS. As with any CNS, one use case is that the CNS provides all of the promised benefits of public cloud computing. The second use case is that the utilization of this class of CNS enables an IT organization to optimize the performance of applications delivered to mobile users without having to deploy software on each mobile device. The third use case is that this class of CNS enables an IT organization to optimize the performance of other services obtained from a service provider, such as VoIP or desktop virtualization.

IBM's recent X-Force 2010 Trend and Risk Report documents a 27% increase in security vulnerabilities in 2010 vs. 2009 and stated that "Web applications accounted for nearly half of vulnerabilities disclosed in 2010."

 

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