If you are looking at a significant use of cloud computing, have you considered what this might mean for your network? Corporate networks are an often overlooked factor when thinking about cloud computing. The problem is that cloud computing increases the criticality of your network, because if your network isn’t available then your cloud services aren’t either.
If we think about typical SaaS applications (the ones that replace some of my traditional desktop applications) the network – in particular internet access – has become critical. With traditional services network availability has less of an effect on service delivery. I can still use Microsoft Office on my PC when my network is down (though I can’t use email). But I can’t use Office 365 or Google Docs if my network is down. Similarly the performance of my network has a pervasive effect on the delivery of these cloud services. If my network is available but poorly performing the users of these cloud services will suffer.
When it comes to your back-office or IT infrastructure cloud services such as Infrastructure as a Service or Platform as a Service, my network was always crucial, but it has become more so. Now, what is different is that it is no longer my internal network – which I have some control over – which impacts performance, but the internet over which I have no control.
In particular the connection between your corporate network and the internet assumes massive significance. In the old days before cloud, if the internet was down all it meant was your employees couldn’t surf the ‘net, and you couldn’t send and receive external emails. For a fully cloud enabled organisation it could mean that you can’t do anything!
So, what lessons should we take from this? What specific aspects of networks should we be thinking about when we start to adopt cloud computing?
Don’t underestimate the importance of your network. Poor user experience due to getting the network wrong can undermine everything you gain from cloud computing. In particular make sure that your internal network is not the slowest link in the chain.
Internet connectivity is key. Consider getting redundant connections to the internet. Make sure you have enough bandwidth for your internet connections, and that they are of a high enough speed.
What is your internal network for anyway? If all of your key services are accessed over the internet, are there parts of your internal network that can de dispensed with.?Consider the replacement of internal networks with internet connections, especially for far-flung branches.