While the business case for cloud-hosted IT infrastructure and applications is quite clear and evidence shows many companies have started the journey towards deploying IT infrastructure and applications, the importance of the network in the cloud computing scenario has not been as clearly articulated.
Crucially: without a network, there is no cloud service.
The importance of the network is starting to come under increased scrutiny as more organisations access their IT needs through the cloud and the number of devices and their related applications needs to grow. Global IP traffic is set to quadruple between 2009 to 2014 overall, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34 percent. As early as 2015, over 800 million terabytes of mobile data traffic will be offloaded to the fixed network by means of dual-mode devices and femtocells whilst Business IP traffic is growing at a CAGR of 21 percent (source: Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology). These new requirements placed on enterprise networks will force IT organisations to increase capital investment and resources to support highly available network performance. These changes are also requiring CIOs and IT managers to revaluate what they are comfortable to outsource.
The cloud computing model places increasing pressure on the enterprise network and can pose issues to the IT leader such as increasing network loads, increasing end-user expectations, increasing costs. It will, therefore, be crucial for CIO's and IT managers to ensure the robustness and future-proofing of their network infrastructures in order to guarantee availability and performance.
Cloud’s remote access nature means that most businesses will need to spend more on bandwidth and quality of service (QoS) - although this increased expenditure is usually more than offset by resulting cost savings from the revamped IT infrastructure. Placing data in a public cloud can also mean that businesses may not be able to vouch for its location, which has security and compliance ramifications.
If the network isn’t optimised for cloud services, then application performance will be marred and in some cases organisations may have to contend with disruptive downtime. If things go wrong, finding the root cause can be a complicated task, illustrating the importance of a qualified cloud provider with experience of both hosting and networking.