CLOUD – The Changed Face of the Network


By Malcolm Orekoya, Network & Security Specialist, Netutils

Views expressed in this post are original thoughts posted by Malcolm Orekoya, Network & Security Specialist, Netutils. These views are his own

So everyone has been talking cloud this and cloud that for what seems like forever now and you can be forgiven for being completely confused at times as to what exactly cloud computing is and why all the fuss. The definition of “cloud computing” on Wikipedia probably sums it up best; “Cloud computing is the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet)”+.

The reason for all the confusion is that cloud computing nowadays refers to several services such as Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), Platform as a service (PaaS), Software as a service (SaaS), Desktop as a service (DaaS), Storage as a service (STaaS), Security as a service (SECaaS) and many more variables. To make matters even more confusing, once you have got your head around the concept of cloud, you then have to deal with the options of “private cloud”, “public cloud” or “hybrid cloud”. So why are there so many services moving to some form of cloud?

Well, there are several reasons behind the proliferation of cloud services, but amongst them all the following will almost always fall within the top 5:

Security – This is a major issue for all organisations, from small to large and can be a headache for many IT business decision-makers. The amount of data that is being consumed by today’s users, across data centres around the world is outstanding and the requirement to make sure this data is securely accessed and secured from malicious activity is just as great; whether this is for regulatory/compliance requirements or not. Getting the secure infrastructure (hardware, software, data centre etc.) and expertise needed for today’s networks can be prohibitively expensive and time consuming for organisations, therefore offloading this responsibility to cloud providers makes sense. These providers spend their time and money to provide you with the secure and compliant network that you need, without you having to worry about anything other than your internet connections to the cloud.

Access – People want remote access to as much content as they can possibly get their hands on. Whether it is being able to work from home, an internet café or a pub, users expect to be able to access their personal and corporate data via the internet. In conjunction with this, the other big buzz in the industry “BYOD” (bring you own device) and the overabundance of mobile devices that support this trend, makes providing mobile access to your users at the top the agenda for most IT business decision-makers.

A Forrester Research on Mobility, Cloud and Big Data written in October 2012 reports that “In the last 18 months, 47% of businesses have seen increased demand from end users to bring their own devices to work”++. In order to meet these access demands alongside maintaining security, a lot of organisations find it much easier and cost effective to have part of their network accessible in the cloud and relieve them of the hassle of providing and maintaining the necessary platform to feed this ever growing access need.

Costs – Keeping an eye on the IT budget always plays a major part in any organisations decision making process for any project and being able to reduce costs over time is key. The fact is with the two reasons already mentioned above; any organisation that keeps its entire infrastructure hosted internally will continually have to spend on hardware, software, training and staff in order to keep up with the industry. Cloud services have become increasingly more cost effective and in many cases can provide a more efficient Return-on-Investment (ROI) for many services.

So now that we know what all the cloud fuss is about, why should we jump on the band wagon; for all we know this is all a ‘phase’ and things will soon return back to normal (some hope)? Well I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but that is not going to happen, cloud is here to stay for good and is a trend that is not likely to change direction any time soon.

In October 2012 Forrester Research also found that “44% of businesses have seen increased use of cloud services – from software and infrastructure to business processes as-a-service offerings”++ and Cisco’s second annual Global Cloud Index (GCI) has predicted that “within four years, two-thirds of all data centre traffic across the world – as well as workloads – will be cloud based”^.

Whether it’s for personal or business use the cloud has already changed the face of your network, in some cases without users having to do anything; I recently found out that by simply combining the free cloud storage space I get from my Hotmail, Gmail, Amazon, iCloud and Dropbox accounts, I’ve got nearly 30GB of free Storage as a service (STaaS) that I wasn’t even aware of.

The facts are internet bandwidth is cheaper than ever before; home users can now easily boast of 50MB internet connections at home. Internet content and ‘apps’ for work and play are richer and more widely available now than at any other time in history and the means of accessing this rich content via the plethora of fancy mobile devices is so accessible now, even six year olds have smartphones (as I recently found out at a birthday party I attended). The new way of working and playing involves the cloud and there’s no going back now.

Join us on stand 691 at Cloud Expo Europe 29th – 20th January 2013, National Hall Olympia. Find out about Cloudutils* – Cloud Solutions without Compromise. Solutions include Secure RADIUS and Managed Guest Access.

*Cloudutils is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Network (Utilities) Systems Ltd.

+ Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing

++ Source: Forrester Research http://www.juniper.net/us/en/dm/enterprise-data-center/pdf/Building_For_The_Next_Billion_What_The_New_World_Of_Business_Means_For_The_Network_FINAL.pdf

^ Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/joemckendrick/2012/10/28/two-thirds-of-the-worlds-data-centers-going-to-cloud-cisco/

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About netutils

Network Utilities (Systems) Limited - providers of high performance networking, end-to-end security, and IT service management solutions since 1993. We are that 'safe pair of hands' genuinely committed to helping our Enterprise and Service Provider customers benefit from comprehensive solutions and services. This is achieved through a process of listening, defining requirements, reviewing the market, enabling pilot and project delivery, and providing on-going 24/7 support services. Our goal? To provide you with tomorrow's network ... today.

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