Cloud Connectivity

Carefully does it

First published: June 2011

By Andrew Buss

KEY POINTS

Connectivity is not widely perceived to be a major barrier to the adoption of Cloud services
There is an optimism surrounding the ability of the existing connectivity infrastructure (internal network and external comms services) to support Cloud computing. However, few have actually adopted Cloud to any significant extent, so the opinion is based more on intuition than experience.

But experience of Cloud highlights that in reality connectivity can be a significant challenge
The broad optimism around the suitability of connectivity to support Cloud adoption is not borne out by those who already make use of this new delivery model. As Cloud services become more central to both IT and the business, the prevailing sentiment emerging is that connectivity becomes more challenging the more extensively Cloud services are worked into the equation.

Supporting remote working is not the same as supporting Cloud
Implementing solutions for remote working, another communication intensive activity, is relatively straightforward, and assuring acceptable overall service performance and availability typically requires little incremental investment. Moving to Cloud, on the other hand, brings new issues to the table and places new demands on the connectivity infrastructure, often requiring higher levels of reliability and support that can only be dealt with through proper planning and investment.

Connectivity has to be as reliable as that for in-house services, not necessarily more so
Failures in internal IT systems still happen on a regular basis. When moving applications to the Cloud, there is sometimes a tendency to assume that these applications then need to be more reliable. Not all apps need five 9s availability, and reliability comes at a cost. Understanding the nature of the apps and the impact of failures can help in choosing the appropriate service levels and costs for the comms infrastructure.

As applications migrate externally, comms provider selection needs particular due diligence
As applications increasingly migrate to the Cloud, and many of the interactions that previously happened over the LAN become reliant on the external WAN infrastructure, the due diligence conducted on comms service providers becomes critical. With Cloud, any issues with connectivity have the potential for widespread and noticeable disruption to business operation and/or user productivity. This is not just about users being able to access a SaaS application, for example, but also ensuring that critical points of integration between in-house and hosted apps function reliably. The net is that the Quality of Service offered by comms services providers must be regarded as business critical in a Cloud environment.


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