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Avoid moving from a dumb pipe to a dumb cloud

Jim Morin, Product Line Director, Managed Services & Enterprise at Ciena | Sept. 14, 2012
Back in 1998 when Google Search started to replace AltaVista, could you imagine the company would be laying fiber in Kansas City in 2012 to offer a 100 times faster Internet service? Or that the New York Stock Exchange would evolve from a trading floor in its 1903 building on Broad Street, to offering virtual and physical colocated computing infrastructure services in its New Jersey data center?

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

Back in 1998 when Google Search started to replace AltaVista, could you imagine the company would be laying fiber in Kansas City in 2012 to offer a 100 times faster Internet service? Or that the New York Stock Exchange would evolve from a trading floor in its 1903 building on Broad Street, to offering virtual and physical colocated computing infrastructure services in its New Jersey data center?

The explosion of these new cloud services is being delivered through a mix of providers -- let's call them "New Service Providers" -- emerging from the ranks of established telecommunications companies, data center infrastructure providers and unexpected players like Google, Amazon and the NYSE. Business giants HP, Oracle and IBM are also making moves to migrate into cloud services by building on the full suite of technologies they have amassed over the decades.

Each understands how critical the network is for cloud services. Each wants to offer a more intelligent, completely integrated service rather than simple "dumb pipe" bandwidth or "dumb cloud" colocation facilities.

Most telecommunication service providers today are wrestling with ways to break into cloud computing.

They are leveraging their expertise in building and managing complex telecom networks (the dumb pipes) to offer differentiated, value-added cloud services to subscribers. And, to address services gaps, some are forming partnerships with others to pull together the missing components of a cloud infrastructure. These partnerships add the flexibility that is essential to compete in the fast-moving cloud marketplace. Others are becoming bandwidth specialists and providing a differentiated network service that connects users to the cloud with lower latency and better throughput performance.

Just as carriers see the value in offering cloud service, cloud providers understand that the cloud is only as good as the network that supports it. In addition to Google's efforts in Kansas City, Amazon Web Services has developed an on-demand, "Direct Connect" Ethernet network service with an ecosystem of partners.

IT services for computing, storage and some networking are also being offered out of uber-sized data centers owned by emerging cloud providers such as Microsoft, IBM and Apple. Oracle, HP and others leverage their integrated compute/storage/networking platforms inside their cloud data centers. Consumer oriented companies like Facebook and Zynga are building their own uber-sized data centers for their unique cloud-based applications, and rely on faster Internet, mobile and Wi-Fi network access for better performance.

The "New Service Provider"

The definition of what it means to be a service provider will continue to blur. In order to find new ways to compete in the cloud market, the New Service Provider will need to offer a range of smart network-based cloud services that best leverage its asset base, whether that is a rich fiber network, extensive data center footprint, unique network services or vertical industry specialization.

 

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