Optimize The Network For A Move To The Cloud

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Nov 3, 2013 (3 years and 9 months ago)

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Optimize The Network
For A Move To The Cloud
Sufficient Bandwidth & Strong Security Are A Must For Successful Migration
The various benefits of moving enter-
prise operations to the cloud are fairly
well known by now. Beyond acquiring
on-demand storage, computing power,
and other resources from a cloud provider,
enterprises stand to save time, energy, and
money in the long term where hardware
and IT resources otherwise required to sup-
port the same functionality in-house are
concerned. For all the benefits of the cloud,
however, many enterprises must address
various network-related issues, including
bandwidth, security, and latency, to ensure
a successful migration. Read on for more
about optimizing a network to meet the
unique challenges of cloud computing.
At The Outset
According to Roopashree Honnachari,
research program manager of business
communication services at Frost & Sul-
livan, cloud computing “is nothing but
remote site IT infrastructure that’s man-
aged by a third-party provider.” The net-
works act as the connection between the
cloud and end users, she says, and “one
becomes meaningless without the other.”
To connect business users to the cloud,
she says, the network “must be big, fast,
and reliable enough to handle multiple
requests.” Optimizing the network is par-
ticularly important when users must access
critical applications hosted in the cloud. If
the enterprise is using a hosted IP telepho-
ny solution, for example, its network must
be optimized to prioritize voice traffic over
non-real-time applications.
Keep An Eye Out
One common area where network
shortcomings show up is lacking enough
bandwidth to support all the applica-
tions the enterprise desires to move to the
cloud, Honnachari says. Another poten-
tial problem is legacy WAN transport
technologies that don’t support
convergence and leave IT man-
aging multiple networks and an
inflexibility of WAN bandwidth
to scale per enterprise needs.
“Network security is also a huge
concern, thus driving demand
for managed security services,”
Honnachari says.
Keith Morris, vice president
of marketing at Talari Networks
(www.talari.com), says the big-
gest impact to the network is the
critical connection to the cloud
provider. “If the wide-area con-
nection between the SME and
the cloud service provider fails
or is experiencing some kind of
performance problem, then the
application being hosted by the
cloud provider may become
frustratingly slow or completely
unusable for some period of time,
which may seriously impact pro-
ductivity,” he says.
Addressing data-related secu-
rity issues is perhaps the big-
gest challenge for IT departments,
says Michelle Warren, president of MW
Research & Consulting. “This underlies
your cloud and network strategy,” she
says; for example, the network may be
secure “but with data half in the cloud
and half in the network, how is it pro-
tected, who can access it, [and] how can
it be removed?” Other considerations,
Warren says, relate to data access and
H OW T O
management. “Your entire organization
doesn’t need to access all of your cloud-
stored information all of the time,” she
says. “Decide who needs what, and grant
access accordingly.”
Private vs. Public
Understanding the differences between
private and public cloud offerings
and the network demands relat-
ed to each is key, Honnachari
says. Although SMEs typically
move to the cloud to achieve cost
savings, even if using a private
cloud architecture, she says,
SMEs “typically want to use a private net-
work because there’s no point in ensuring
the security of all your applications in the
cloud and but then neglecting the network
that actually connects you to the cloud.”
Security is an especially important issue
for SMEs, she says, because they’re more
prone to shift critical applications to the
cloud than larger enterprises.
Whether a private or public
cloud service is more appropri-
ate depends on the SME’s usage
case, Honnachari says, as “there’s
a correlation between what types
of applications they’re putting
in the cloud and the network
they’re using.” For simply host-
ing an HR application users will
use infrequently, for example,
a public service accessed with
Internet link might be fine, she
says; however, for hosting a CRM
application that users will access
daily, SMEs should focus on a
private network. For running mul-
tiple applications in the cloud,
she says, a T1 network connec-
tion isn’t going to cut it. “You’re
going to need more bandwidth,
and bandwidth optimized for dif-
ferent types of traffic.”
Typically, SMEs connect to
cloud providers using the Internet,
“which works pretty well most of
the time,” Talari’s Morris says.
“But at some periods of the day,
it is common to experience large
amounts of packet loss or exces-
sive delay caused by congestion
in parts of the network.” This is
why larger enterprises generally
buy expensive private bandwidth,
such as MPLS, to connect their
remote offices, he says. “The
impact of these network prob-
lems that the SME will see really
depends on the application being
hosted,” Morris says. “For email,
network issues might not even
be noticed, but a hosted applica-
tion that is more interactive may
appear slow or unresponsive, and
the risk of using a real-time appli-
cation such as voice may make it
a non-starter.”
P
Action Plan

Decide exactly what you want to
move to the cloud, the users who
will need access, how secure the
data must be, etc.

Consider consulting with a third
party to form a strategy for mov-
ing to the cloud.

Determine if a private, pub-
lic, or hybrid cloud approach
is most appropriate.

Assess your own service deliv-
ery infrastructure to pinpoint
potential areas where network
optimization might be needed.

Assess potential providers’
infrastructure, security, data
handling, guarantees, etc.

Move a few non-critical appli-
cations to the cloud initially to
spot potential problem spots.

Measure the results and make
adjustments as necessary.
Get Started
A common approach many enter-
prises take when initially moving
to cloud is shifting only a few work
processes at first in order to enable
a comfortable transition and gauge
where bandwidth and latency issues
might affect critical daily operations.
Michelle Warren, president of MW
Research & Consulting, advises
using baby steps when transferring
information initially, opting for activi-
ties that aren’t critically important to
daily operations, such as accounts
payable, payroll, etc.
Top Tips

Diversify. Keith Morris, vice presi-
dent of marketing at Talari Net-
works (www.talari.com), says all
networks experience problems at
some times. “So, the only real way
to provide consistent and reliable
connectivity is to use network diver-
sity,” he says. “This means using
two or more Internet connections
from different providers. The good
news is that if you do this, there are
techniques like WAN virtualization
that allow you to get MPLS-like pre-
dictable performance and quality of
service over the Internet.”

Spend what you must. According to
Roopashree Honnachari, research
program manager of business
communication services at Frost
& Sullivan, when deciding on a
cloud service, SMEs must real-
ize they get what they pay for. A
public cloud service accessed via
public Internet, for example, will
likely have a stronger chance of
the network failing or users unable
to access an application at some
point, she says. Thus, if moving
critical applications to the cloud,
“it’s extremely important for SMEs
to invest in the right type of net-
work to connect to that cloud,” she
says. “There is no point in having a
secure cloud if you can’t access it.”
Key Points
r Optimizing the network for a cloud move
is especially important for SMEs, which
are more likely to move critical applica-
tions to the cloud than large enterprises
r One of the biggest challenges for SMEs
moving operations to the cloud is
addressing potential network security
problem spots.
r Using a private network is suggested
for SMEs that choose a private cloud
service in order to help ensure the
security, reliability, and accessibility of
critical hosted applications.
February 24, 2012 Processor.com Page 37