Many customers have realised that workloads benefit from running on the most efficient IT infrastructure and platform. Currently, many may be in the process of determining how best to set up cloud and non-cloud networks side by side.
In my view, the best approach really depends on how an organisation chooses to use cloud computing.
For customers running critical e-commerce applications during peak periods, cloudbursting will probably be required. This means their setup must be compatible with existing application architectures, possibly dispersed around the world.
For those deploying massive numbers of systems rapidly, as many government facilities may require, IPv6 will be vital, as will virtual networking when migrating to the cloud.
They also need to look at their VoIP deployment and consider network quality of service, which can ensure critical applications get the proper portion of the network pipe.
The networking layout, however, should always be based on what the applications need. Often there will be an advantage to putting dependent systems on the same virtual network. You may lose a little control and visibility, but there is often a performance increase and simplicity of scale.
In any sizable organisation, rip-and-replace with cloud will not be desirable. Most organisations want to keep some security and control, especially when it comes to networking. Cloud traffic can be routed through their network initially, improving security and audit potential.
We have already seen cloud technologies go down. Tread cautiously and maintain a certain level of control and visibility around key infrastructure services such as networking.
Client devices are not going anywhere; in fact, they are getting more complex, as mobile devices and increased wireless requirements are introduced. There will always be a need for physical hardware as long as there is a user presence at a physical location.
The network manager should be involved in cloud architecture discussions from the start, as this person must provide the right offering to support the business need for cloud, without compromising security or visibility of the communication stack.
It's surprisingly common for the networking group not to be included in the initial cloud architecture discussions.
Another pitfall is misunderstanding the capability and costs around scaling the cloud infrastructure. Cloud hosting vendors often charge per megabyte transferred over their infrastructure, so you need to know your network consumption and have growth projections for the next several years.
This may prove difficult. Capacity is not only a concern for bandwidth, but also IP address management. If massive scale is expected, the customer must have an IPv6 strategy before moving into the cloud.
In my view, connectivity must also be guaranteed through multiple network providers as they can help balance bandwidth and keep rivals in check.
With cloud computing, we are seeing pockets of success with certain application workloads. As more applications move towards cloud, better WAN optimisation may be needed to ease potential bandwidth bottlenecks.
Scott Herold is director of virtualisation strategy and product manager for vFoglight at Quest Software
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