Enterprises moving to the cloud are increasingly taking a reasoned approach to implementation. CIOs are recognizing that cloud doesn’t mean the end of the world as we know it, that it doesn’t require wholesale jettisoning of legacy systems, and that cloud applications can in fact be effectively integrated into existing infrastructure. An excellent article recently published in CIO magazine describes the pragmatic step-by-step approaches that many organizations are successfully adopting.
This de-hyping of cloud is certainly a good thing, but the fact remains that cloud is in many respects a different animal, one that requires new approaches and awareness of unexpected issues and complications that can arise. As such, while we see an increasing level of market savviness regarding the practicalities of cloud, we also see cases where clients fail to anticipate potential gotchas before making major investments in cloud-based delivery. This can lead to performance issues after the fact.
Network infrastructure is perhaps the biggest blind spot. Perhaps because it’s not particularly sexy, you just don’t hear a lot about the network in cloud discussions. But if you don’t have the underlying infrastructure in place, no cloud solution will perform well. Hosting, developing or testing any application on the cloud creates compression and congestion points that need to be addressed when implementing a solution.
Cloud-based delivery means many new types of traffic coming through the network, in addition to traditional data, voice and video. This increase in traffic types, volume and to new vendors is a new undertaking for many enterprises, and many lack insight into the unknown risks and potential opportunities. The result can be underperformance or even overpaying for bandwidth.
For example, the capacity requirements of cloud are leading many enterprises to explore capabilities such as bigger Ethernet connections or connecting directly to providers for larger SAAS based deployments such as Microsoft Office365. In doing so, many are neglecting the potential benefits of alternatives such as carrier neutral facilities (carrier hotels), a much lower cost-of-connection option that uses a co-location facility to provide secure, direct access to a wide range of cloud and hosting providers who interconnect through these facilities.
Carrier-neutral facilities are just one example where due diligence prior to implementation of a cloud initiative can yield significant payback.