Why Your Company Cloud Needs an Enterprise Class Network

Many organizations today are migrating key IT services into the cloud, and for good reason. Due to extensive use of both virtualization and automation, cloud services can deliver services in a scalable, efficient, and extremely agile fashion, while also offloading a large portion of the burden of IT management. Furthermore, cloud costs are typically billed on a utility basis, and hence will only climb in proportion to the real-world use of those services based on customers’ specific needs.

Really achieving the full promise of cloud computing means more than just offloading services to a cloud provider. Equally important is the network used to link primary business sites to that cloud.

Because the cloud is nonlocal to the business, network performance and management capabilities can have a critical effect in just how well cloud services will perform—or underperform. Furthermore, not all cloud hosts are created equal. Some cloud hosting providers have more extensive, sophisticated, and proven networks (and network management options) than others.
And so, as businesses evaluate cloud services, they’ll find that the best results will come from including network connectivity options as a key element of the cloud provider evaluation process.

The goal should be to consider business needs, the available resources, and then select from one or more network options that meet today’s requirements and provide for future growth.
An important note: Most organizations will eventually utilize multiple network access paths to the cloud—road warrior salesmen, for instance, will typically not take the same path as a primary business site. The focus of this white paper is to define the different access paths available for multiple sites with different needs.

Given this information, it then becomes much simpler to choose one or more appropriate network options—and subsequently, a cloud hosting provider that can support whichever options are chosen.
Getting started with network needs assessment as an organization begins to consider cloud deployment, three key network questions will always apply:

Now let’s walk through the answers to these three questions in more detail.

Network connectivity options

  • What network options are available to get access to cloud services?
  • How much uptime is really essential for those different services?

Services that are mission-critical and ongoing will require more availability than services with a lower priority and/or less frequent use.

  • What kinds of usage patterns exist in the way the different service are accessed—and is it possible to create a tailored network solution that fits those patterns?
  • Public Access. Services can certainly be routed over the public Internet, and this is the least expensive method. It is also, however, the hardest to control—meaning that it is more difficult to achieve consistency of the end user experience, make services on this path secure, or ensure that they will stay up and running an acceptable percentage of the time.
  • Semi-Public Access. A variation on the public option involves creating a secure tunnel over the public Internet using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This improves security, but doesn’t directly address consistency of the end user experience, or uptime. In fact, since extensive encryption is used to secure traffic, performance will typically fall compared to the Public Access option.
  • Private Access. The term “private network” is used to describe a network connectivity solution that is implemented by a telecommunications service provider. There are two fundamental choices: dedicated network or a managed network solution.

A dedicated access solution is a solution that provides physical facilities dedicated for the customer. The focus of a dedicated solution is to provide a path to and from the cloud over a single connection with a fixed bandwidth. The carrier’s responsibility ends there; management of different services within the connection is the responsibility of the customer. Examples of these solutions include point-to-point Ethernet and T1-based circuits.

A managed network is an access solution that not only includes the physical access facilities used by the customer, but also the carrier’s management of the data traffic. In essence, the customer can outsource the management and performance of the data flow to the service providers. An example of this type of solution is MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) service.

There are two basic factors that drive the cost for each of these access solutions: the number of customer locations that require access to cloud services and the geographic distance between the users and the cloud infrastructure As the number of locations within your organization that require access to the cloud services increases, there is an increase in complexity and cost associated with a dedicated solution. This increase in complexity is driven by the number of paths (also known as routing tables) that you have to maintain inside of your own IT infrastructure to ensure that the cloud services are accessible to all locations. Since a number of dedicated network paths are exclusively utilized by a single organization, the cost and type of each facility has to be taken into account. The mixing and matching of circuit types (T1, Ethernet, DSL), while seemingly cost effective, also drives up the complexity of the service management.

Service availability options

Moving to a cloud is, by itself, a good way to increase availability. However, there are additional options to consider Single-path access. If a service only has one path between your site and a cloud, anything that affects that path will also affect your service uptime. When you select a public or semi-public network connectivity solution, you are in effect also choosing a single-path access approach.

  • Diverse-path access. Multiple network paths can reduce the risk of a service outage or bottleneck. Diverse-path access is only available to you if you select a private network solution. The cost comparison between dedicated and managed solutions is affected by the fact that you are responsible for network management with a dedicated solution, whereas your service provider is responsible with a managed access solution.
  • Diverse data center infrastructure. Some cloud providers offer multiple data centers and they too can improve uptime. An outage at data center A won’t necessarily bring down your service because that service can fail over to data center B. Diverse data center infrastructure can be supported with a public, semi-public, and private network solution. The trade-offs, primarily with management of user experience, is magnified with multiple data centers as well as the cost trade-offs between a dedicated and managed access solution.

Why Soft Solutions Limited (SSL)?

Soft Solutions Limited (SSL) founded in 1994, has emerged as one of the leading IT solutions and consulting companies in Nigeria.

SSL helps customers address enterprise challenges by providing comprehensive solutions that combines innovative models and technologies with passion to solve business problems.

We deliver technology solutions that are cost effective, easy to use and adaptive to enable next level growth. Our solutions provide the platform for an agile ICT environment that drives an organization towards set objectives. They instantly transform any organization and deliver visible return on Investment.

At SSL, we are pragmatic consultants who bring an implementation perspective to all our work. We realize that elegant solutions are meaningless unless they can be translated into sustainable business value.

For more information on Cloud services or any other IT Solution and service, email info@ss-limited.com or marketing@ss-limited.com

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