Cloud Networking Changes Everything

Cloud Networking Changes Everything

The public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) market is booming and expected to grow by 47 percent, from $6 billion in 2012 to $9 billion in 2013, according to Gartner’s Forecast Overview: Public Cloud Services, Worldwide, 2011-2016, 4Q Update. Additionally, the overall public cloud computing market, including software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), IaaS and other related services, will grow from $110 to $131 billion over the same period with a CAGR of 41.3 percent through 2016. While this projected growth is significant, cloud computing still represents less than three percent of the $3.7 trillion spent on IT per year. This begs the question, If cloud computing is so hot, why is it still just three percent of the overall IT industry?

It might be helpful to look back to when cloud IaaS was introduced to the market more than eight years ago by Amazon.com. The primary goal was to provide computing capacity at a lower cost than actual physical servers. Since then, many other cloud service providers have jumped on the bandwagon to offer low-cost, best-effort cloud services. Yet, while a market for these services clearly exists, most don’t meet the enterprise requirements for a more reliable and secure computing platform. The problem lies in the fundamental challenge that end users have in using a server-centric cloud approach to solve problems better addressed by networks.

Red Flags

Security breaches cost U.S. businesses significant amounts of time and money, and carry legal ramifications for strictly regulated financial and medical institutions. As such, it shouldn’t come as too great a surprise that it is the main concern for 71 percent of corporate technology decision makers when evaluating cloud services for business critical workloads, as reported by a recent Intel survey. The same study found that 28 percent of IT professionals have experienced a public cloud-related security breach – which, according to 65 percent of respondent companies, is a greater percentage than with traditional IT infrastructures.

One reason for the significant level of concern about cloud security might be that most providers seem to share the same server-centric approach to cloud architecture. Organizations utilizing these types of cloud environments are often unknowingly making it easier for criminals to gain access to information. When establishing vast, cloud-based data centers that are business-critical by nature, companies must institute the same level or better of perimeter security controls than what is present in privately hosted clouds.

Evaluating the various concerns around public cloud security, the network tops the list as most cloud platforms are only accessible via the network, and it has been proven to be at the core of many security breaches. However, the network is also the backbone of most organizations today. Without a strong and secure network foundation, many − if not all − will find it challenging to deliver services to the market.

Network Evolution

Looking at all the major changes within the technology landscape in the last five years, patterns have changed substantially, and computing fabrics demand more from the network. Coupled with an increasingly mobile workforce and customer base, the need for reliable and secure services that can be scaled-up/down as needed, and hosted pay-as-you-go models is driving the re-evaluation of today’s cloud service providers.

The collaboration, and in some cases the merger, between traditional computing and static network aspects are guaranteed to impact any IT organization. Network services can no longer be viewed in a silo. Like security, quality of service and intelligent routing network services will become essential to delivering elastic cloud services that deliver the promise of true utility computing. Further, the ability to provision services “on the fly” will be impossible without the ability to connect to these services in a safe and secure manner.

Public cloud platforms are not exempt from this trend as additional perimeter control and logical network separation is necessary in providing secure cloud services that bridge the public and private network spheres. The network-centric cloud architecture is inevitable as it is clear that the current service model will have to evolve to provide the required security guarantees. By adopting a network-centric cloud platform, organizations will reap the on-demand provisioning and elasticity benefits of cloud services with security at the core.

By Phillip Spies,

Senior Services Architect, Cloud Services, Dimension Data

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