May 9, 2013

Dangers of the Cloud

(Sponsor-Contributed Paper)

It seems like cloud computing is everywhere.

There's a lot of good to the cloud, but I want to talk about how cloud can be challenging for businesses.

Often perceived as being straightforward and cost effective, the cloud can become progressively difficult in terms of IT. This frustrates users. It can also be expensive for the company.

One of the main challenges of cloud is the risk of increased and unmanaged traffic levels over corporate networks. Each application running over a network (like Twitter, videos, or Facebook), drains the network's resources a little. If one app is greedily sapping more than its fair share of the bandwidth due to heavy usage, then the other apps suffer from poor performance and users end up frustrated.

Consider business-critical apps such as video conferencing, CRM or ERP, which are increasingly accessed from the cloud. If these are side-lined by recreational activities (such as employees streaming videos), then the company has a cloud-induced problem.

Imagine this by thinking of apps as cars and networks as roads. The cloud is a new exciting destination. Increased traffic flowing to/from this destination could result in traffic jams and road accidents. This has been mentioned before when talking about the Olympics and the Super Bowl.

How can companies using the cloud prevent this? They need, in brief, visibility and control. They need to go beyond what the industry calls WAN Optimisation and focus on guaranteeing application performance dynamically. They need to be able to do this across any type of network complexity (SaaS applications, UCC, hybrid networks, etc).

To go back to the road example, companies need police officers: something that can monitor the traffic as it flows across the network, prioritising certain applications and guaranteeing levels of control.

The cloud can be very dangerous. Companies looking to use it need to start by recognising the risk of cloud computing to the network.


(Previously published at Huff Post Tech.)

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