I was recently chatting with an analyst who brought up the issue of “standards” as they pertain to cloud. He felt that the notion of “cloud” brings flexibility, scale and cost savings to the enterprise, but pitfalls lurk in area of performance and security. He wondered if standards could evolve to help on those fronts, or would such standardization end up holding back cloud as a viable service?
I pointed out that standards already exist for securing data in transit. IPsec, for example, is a well-known method of encrypting traffic over the Internet and it can provide similar benefits in cloud environments. Many devices provide IPsec functionality today, including Silver Peak wide area network (WAN) optimization software, so incorporating encryption into cloud environments is seamless and pretty cost-effective.
Regarding cloud performance, some standards already exist here, too. LZ compression, TCP acceleration, and quality-of-service (QoS) all provide standard ways of optimizing data in transit, even in cloud environments. The biggest performance benefits, however, come from more advanced optimization techniques that deduplicate traffic and correct for packet delivery challenges in the cloud, like dropped and out-of-order packets. Methods for doing this vary widely from vendor to vendor, so it is not possible for cloud providers to enforce standards for this advanced functionality. These methods are often viewed as strategic intellectual property for the different vendors, so I personally don’t see standards evolving anytime soon in these areas.
One thing cloud providers can insist on is the integration of WAN optimization into standard hypervisors, including VMware vSphere, Citrix Xen, KVM, and Microsoft Hyper-V. This ensures optimal cloud performance in any location– from the data center to the customer premise. In addition, they can insist on WAN optimization plug-ins to commonly used virtualization management tools, such as VMware vCenter or Citrix XenCenter. This allows anyone with virtualization experience to quickly and easily deploy and control WAN optimization from common management tools without requiring networking expertise.