Networking in the cloud: a look inside and out

1 Summary

At the heart of cloud computing and behind many IT-related gains in efficiency, effectiveness, and elasticity is the network. The distributed and dynamic nature of cloud computing not only dictates the use of best-in-class network technologies and practices but also drives networking advancements focused on improving such key areas as service quality, management automation, resource utilization, access control, and on-demand programmability. Organizations moving to the cloud must understand that the underlying network infrastructure and related network services are prime determinants of success for both themselves and the cloud service provider.

We see this positive network effect in the in-depth interviews conducted for this report. Key capabilities of the network were found to translate directly to a high-quality cloud computing service offering. Some of these key capabilities include:

  • An overabundance of bandwidth supports not only primary workloads of multiple customers but also burst activities and secondary workloads (e.g., mirroring).
  • Simple yet sophisticated controls accommodate a diverse customer base with ever-shifting requirements. In addition, a high degree of automation saves time, speeds actions, and prevents errors.
  • Custom resource configuration and dynamic resource allocation allows the cloud to adjust to the customer, not vice versa.
  • Open systems enable freedom of movement for not only the customer but also the cloud service provider.
  • Pooled independent server and storage resources are able to be assigned on the fly and accessed immediately. Virtual machine mobility further heightens flexible processing capabilities.

One subject interviewed for this report nicely summed up the impact of their move to cloud computing by saying, “I can do things I couldn’t before.” Undoubtedly, without a high-performance, automated, dynamic, open, and virtual network supporting this subject’s cloud computing service, their results — and reaction — would be different indeed.

Next: Introduction