While a shift to the cloud represents many benefits, there are risks that need to be properly understood first. In this article, Knowledge Centre contributor Dave Kofflin outlines five guidelines companies need to understand
Some organisations may view a move towards a cloud computing model as the best way for them to resolve fundamental network problems, by removing the need for their IT personnel to fret over large infrastructure deployments or complex server configurations. However, cloud computing can pose a whole new set of challenges that needs to be properly considered.
Through cloud computing, organisations perform tasks or use applications that harness massive third-party computing and processing power via the Internet cloud. This allows them to quickly scale services and applications to meet changing user demands and avoid purchasing network assets for infrequent, intensive computing tasks.
While providing increased IT flexibility and potentially lowering costs, cloud computing shifts IT management priorities from the network core to the WAN/Internet connection. Cloud computing extends the organisation’s network via the Internet, tying into other networks to access services, applications and data.
Understanding this shift, IT teams must adequately prepare the network and adjust management styles to realise the promise of cloud computing.
Here are five key guidelines organisations should understand when planning, employing and managing cloud computing applications and services:
Guideline No. 1: Conduct pre-deployment and readiness assessments
Determine existing bandwidth demands per user, per department and for the organisation as a whole. With the service provider’s help, calculate the average bandwidth demand per user for each new service you plan to deploy. This allows the IT staff to appropriately scale the Internet connection and prioritise and shape traffic to meet the bandwidth demands of cloud applications.
Guideline No. 2: Shift the network management focus
The advantage of cloud computing lies in the fact that the burden of applications and data storage and processing can be placed on another network. This shifts management priorities from internal data concerns to external ones. Currently, organisations have larger network pipes and infrastructure at the network core where the computer processing power is located.
With cloud computing and software as a service (SAAS) applications, the importance of large bandwidth capacities shift away from the core to the Internet connection. The shift in focus will significantly impact the decisions made, ranging from whether or not an organisation’s monitoring tools adequately track WAN performance to the personnel and resources devoted to managing WAN-related issues.
Guideline No. 3: Determine priorities
With a massive pipeline to the Internet handling online applications and processing, data prioritisation becomes critical. Having an individual IP consuming 30 percent of the organisation’s bandwidth becomes unworkable. Prioritise cloud and SAAS applications, and throttle traffic to make sure bandwidth is appropriately allocated.