Cloud Ready

Lionel Reina, VP EEMEA, Orange Business Services, discusses the requirements and challenges posed to corporate networks by cloud computing.

Tags: Cloud computingEthernetOrange Business Services
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Cloud Ready Network automation is needed to create dynamic infrastructure that avoids bottle necks, says Reina. (ITP images)
By  Lionel Reina Published  June 21, 2010 Network Middle East Logo

Lionel Reina, VP EEMEA, Orange Business Services, discusses the requirements and challenges posed to corporate networks by cloud computing.

Cloud computing is currently without doubt one of the hottest topics in IT. For many companies, especially those with highly variable IT needs, flexible, virtualised clouds offer a low-cost alternative to conventional IT resources. The cloud and the way it is accessed can take many different forms: with the public cloud, customers access a cloud provider’s applications on the web; in this case, the resources are shared between the multiple customers of the provider.

Via a ‘shared’ private cloud, a limited number of companies share resources that are held by one company or by a service provider. In private clouds operated by larger companies, the cloud resources are dedicated to one company and stored in the company’s or a service provider’s data centre. The cloud is then accessed via the Internet or preferably a VPN to maximize security and performance.

Many different applications, such as online trading, customer support, data analysis and monitoring, transaction processing and so on, are nowadays handled in clouds. One thing is for sure: without a network, no user can access the cloud. To ensure that cloud computing actually works, the connections to it need to be readily available, easy to manage and be fast, secure and flexible.

Cloud computing is inconceivable without network and service providers that satisfy these prerequisites. Issues such as quality of service with end-to-end service level agreements, 24 x 7 managed service, usage-based billing, end user service management and compliance are therefore key areas of focus for customers.

Service level agreements for cloud computing

Just how cloud computing impacts on networks depends primarily on three key factors: where the source data is kept, how the source data is updated and secured by back-ups, and how geographically distributed are the users who are accessing the cloud and its data.

If the data is stored in the public cloud, customers incur more than just costs. Many companies also have concerns regarding security and data protection. The alternative – namely of keeping data in the company’s own data centre – is however also associated with costs, and they can be more difficult to calculate. No matter where the data is stored, though, short response times, regardless of the volume of data involved, have a crucial role to play. Ultimately, people require a very fast, high-availability network with an excellent quality of service (QoS) and end-to-end service level agreements (SLAs) to link applications and data or to use them on a shared basis. The Internet, however, is not capable of supporting end-to-end SLAs because its availability, response times and speed are extremely variable. If end-to-end SLAs are wanted, a dedicated infrastructure needs to be established via a service provider or a private cloud.

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