With all of the enthusiasm for the compute and storage aspects of cloud capabilities, it’s easy to take the networks that bind them together for granted. Networks haven’t been a very visible part of early cloud computing deployments, but they’re critical to effectively leveraging cloud’s advantages and ensuring success in implementations. Networks take on new forms and characteristics in cloudy deployments, too. There’s increased flexibility, but also a dependence on the cloud provider’s network designs. That dependence can make a transition from typical enterprise network architectures a challenge. Understanding the differences can help smooth the way to being able to take advantage of the many benefits of cloudy worlds.
Networks within cloud offerings have the advantage of being automated in the same manner as compute and storage. That comes at a cost of living with the functionality the cloud provider has offered. Some allow tiered network segments and some do not. It may be necessary to utilize virtual routing instances or overlay network tools to regain the functions that were built in to the typical enterprise application.
Hybrid cloud deployments, where some of the application is hosted in a cloud environment and some remains under more direct enterprise control, can be a useful way to start to use cloud capabilities while retaining more direct control over important information assets. A typical example would be using a web application front end that’s hosted in a cloud and can easily scale in the event of increased demand. Databases or information sources that feed the front end can remain in owned or managed locations that suit a company’s risk tolerance. It’s a great idea, but success hinges on the quality of the network path between the two environments. There are a number of options, but they vary considerably between cost, performance, and even availability.
Enterprises have been moving up the curve on understanding virtual networks through increasing adoption of hypervisor platforms, but clouds add the additional need to connect at much greater distances. Linking to data centers for application flow and storage replication puts new burdens on the typical network infrastructure. Services such as Ethernet exchanges offer increased performance, but come with complexity in provisioning. VPN connections are easy to set up, but can they be managed in ways that meet application needs? The answers aren’t simple, but determine the success or failure in cloud roll outs.
The WAN and cloud networking track at Cloud Connect will dive in to various aspects of getting connected both within and between clouds. We’ll establish a firm foundation with a deep dive on the different types of virtual networks and the implications of the decisions made in different implementations. We’ll talk about Software Defined Networks (SDN) and their place in the cloud and how they’ll extend beyond it. The track brings together implementers and industry experts to sort out the options and help you understand the new reality that cloudy networks have become. It’s key knowledge in the area that is the linchpin connecting clouds to the rest of the IT world.
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