These days, the cloud is much less of a mystery than it had been in the past few years. Company leaders are no longer mystified by the ability to store and access resources over the Internet. They’re all about cloud performance.
However, as the cloud becomes an increasingly critical resource to businesses everywhere, guaranteeing continuous access to the cloud is paramount to ensuring that platforms and applications work correctly and can be utilized to further the success of the organization.
Still not convinced of the cloud’s power in the corporate world? Take the findings of last year’s Virtustream study into account, which stated that more than half of companies in the U.S use some sort of cloud system. Although statistics have yet to come out in 2014, it is safe to say that the number of businesses that leverage the cloud has increased since the survey. In fact, many firms use several cloud systems these days.
“Enterprise IT organizations – and other organizations with a wide variety of applications – are using multiple types of IaaS clouds at the same time in order to meet their broad needs,” said report author Paul Burns. “Public clouds … simply are not enough to satisfy all the computing needs of enterprise IT organizations.”
Public, Private and Hybrid Clouds
Clouds come in three flavors: public, private and hybrid. According to dummies.com, “A public cloud is one in which the services and infrastructure are provided off-site over the Internet. These clouds offer the greatest level of efficiency in shared resources; however, they are also more vulnerable than private clouds.” Public clouds are used to deliver a range of popular Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. From a security standpoint, however, the public cloud is more vulnerable than private clouds.
In a private cloud, security and control are vastly improved because the services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network. The downside is that the company has to purchase and maintain all the software and infrastructure, which reduces the cost savings benefits everyone seeks from the cloud.
A hybrid cloud, as you may have guessed, includes public and private options from multiple providers, to take advantage of the best each has to offer. Managing a hybrid cloud presents challenges that WAN virtualization is perfectly suited to handle.
How are companies using their clouds?
As groups utilize not one, but a number of cloud environments, it’s worth examining what these resources are being used for in the current corporate landscape.
The Guardian noted that a number of businesses leverage their hybrid cloud arrangements to bolster the abilities of their remote workforce. In this way, employees can access mission-critical documents, applications and databases from anywhere they choose to operate.
Additionally, many groups are calling upon their cloud systems to ensure that resources are in place in the event of a natural disaster or other event that impacts the office’s physical location. Be it a break-in, a bad storm or other occurrence, the organization has all its important data available in the cloud, enabling it to continue operations as usual in the face of any disaster.
“So the cloud gives companies backup of data, fail-over of servers, and the ability to have a secondary center far enough away to allow for regional disaster recovery,” wrote NetworkWorld contributor John Dix.
All of these benefits are, of course, contingent upon being able to reach the cloud and that there is enough bandwidth to run all the desired cloud-hosted applications. Moving applications from internal hosting to the cloud places significant increased resource demands on the organization’s wide area network. Now, instead of accessing CRM, email or other applications over the local area network, everyone in the organization is consuming wide area network bandwidth. And if a WAN connection fails, there goes access to the cloud.
In order to ensure that cloud performance is not hindered by inadequate broadband, business leaders should examine their available network and seriously consider increasing bandwidth to improve cloud services. If daily operations rely on the cloud, then organizations must also ensure continuous access to the cloud installing more than one redundant WAN connection and automatic link failover.
However clouds are utilized, administrators must be sure that these resources work appropriately and will be available when needed. When they are confident of that, then it’s all blue sky.
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