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A blog entry from WAN and Cloud Networking Track Chair Eric Hanselman.

When interconnection works well, it’s invisible to the user or the application that’s taking advantage of it. For a long time, we’ve lived in environments where the bulk of the interconnection that we need runs really well. As virtualization and cloud deployments have scaled up, we’ve started to hit the limits of the traditional ways of interconnecting. Those limits are in capacity, but also, increasingly, limits in agility are becoming a greater concern. The big benefits of cloud are hard to achieve, if the networks on which they run can’t keep up. The networking track at Cloud Connect Chicago 2012 will look at these issues and explore how to deal with them and manage needs for sophisticated interconnection.

We start off with a session exploring the nature of cloud networking.  It will be a deep dive into network virtualization, the technology at the core of software defined networking (SDN). Steve Riley of Riverbed Technology will be detailing the high level concepts and the implications of differing implementation strategies.  His background is comprehensive and our past Q&A sessions have been full of pragmatic information based on his extensive experience.  The transition to virtual networking opens new possibilities in the way in which applications work with networks. They need to be well understood to leverage their potential.

If we needed a greater validation of the importance of networking to cloud, we got it in VMware’s acquisition of SDN startup Nicira. SDN’s capability to increase the flexibility of interconnect and deployment of network services is already having an impact for cloud operators and will offer more as offerings become integrated in different platforms.  Nicira counts AT&T, eBay, and NTT as customers.  The network track will have two of the remaining independent SDN companies delivering their perspectives.  Dante Malagrino of Embrane will be talking about how service provider and cloud deployments need to address the challenges of delivering network services. Orchestration is working well to spin up compute and storage, but networking is just starting to be fully integrated. There are a range of services from load balancing and firewalling to VPN termination that have been the province of physical hardware, but are starting to be included in virtualized and cloudy systems.  There are great opportunities for improved management, but also some pitfalls that are best avoided.

Our panel discussion will take on an assessment of the networking requirements for different application architectures.  As organizations utilize more cloud capacity, there are a number of different approaches to manage the flow of data within the datacenter, as well as across whatever distance separates data sources from applications. OpenFlow startup Big Switch, datacenter operator Equinix, and hosting provider Rackspace will discuss strategies and technologies for meeting requirements for capacity and scale in different architectures.

Whether you’re building new applications or grappling with moving existing applications to a cloudy home, network functionality will play a large part in your success.  The networking track will deliver a wealth of information to guide the way in managing deployments and taking on new cloud projects.

See you there!

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