May 20, 2011
Jonathan Strickland over at “How Stuff Works” recently reminded me of one of my favorite comedy routines – George Carlin’s “A Place for my Stuff.” In this routine, the late comedian compares his life to a search for somewhere to put “his stuff” – his house is a big place for his stuff, while his suitcase, hotel and overnight bag are sequentially smaller places for his stuff. Strickland then reasons, when it comes to business, the cloud is one more place for a business’ “stuff.”
While that is a greatly oversimplified way of looking at it, Strickland is right, the cloud is, among many other things, a place for the stuff of business. It can serve as a viable option for storing files and every day data for smaller companies who do not have the finances or the space to establish a full-blown server closet, or it can act as an off-site storage location for all the files, applications and data needed to prevent an interruption in business continuity – a disaster recovery plan.
Given its potentially important role in the conduct of business, then, I had momentary pause when I saw Storage Switzerland lead analyst George Crump state in his “Plug into the Cloud” blog hosted on InformationWeek:
Cloud storage continues to get treated as this extra special project that you need to be more careful with than other projects you would undertake in the data center. Our belief is that you need to be no more careful with cloud storage than any other IT project and in some cases you can be a bit more risky.
Really? A company can be “risky” with its cloud projects? It made sense, however, when he explained that a company must first address not only the security needs – an oft-discussed issue of cloud computing – but also the bandwidth requirements necessary to keep information flowing.
Cloud-based storage is particularly bandwidth intensive because it typically involves moving large amounts of data across the WAN. As such, available bandwidth as well as issues of distance and WAN quality limits its success.
Because all cloud services inherently use shared WANs, packet delivery challenges are a constant problem in these environments. More specifically, IP packets are often dropped or delivered out of order during periods of peak network congestion. This results in packet retransmissions, which lowers effective throughput and, in turn, perceived application performance.
The best way to address bandwidth issues around accessing data in the cloud is through WAN optimization.
WAN optimization is critical to cloud computing because it overcomes bandwidth, latency and WAN quality issues. (To measure the effect that bandwidth, latency and packet loss have on effective WAN throughput, check out Silver Peak’s WAN Throughput Calculator). For a WAN optimization solution to be effective, it must address these challenges in real time, with the scalability required to handle large volumes of traffic.
Silver Peak employs real-time network optimization techniques to maximize application performance across the cloud while minimizing IT operational costs. These techniques include:
With these real-time optimization techniques, Silver Peak helps maximize WAN performance and lower WAN costs in support of strategic cloud initiatives. The company’s unique network-centric approach to WAN optimization delivers maximum scalability while providing the flexibility needed to support all current and emerging applications.
As enterprises are forced to deal with the significant WAN challenges imposed by these initiatives, Silver Peak enables them to be both cloud AND bandwidth smart.