Clouds and the Network

Before we journey into the cloud, there was a report on ISPs throttling P2P connections.  I have been writing about the race to provide all the bandwidth you need via 4G, LTE, FTTx, DOCSIS…it is good to know that this race comes with a governor.  You can have all the bandwidth you want as long as you pay for it.

Network World had an interesting article on the 12 ways the cloud will change the network.  I think there are some interesting thoughts in the article, but if I was asked to frame how large enterprises want to use the web or cloud or whatever term you want to call it, I would start with this December 21, 2006 post from Fred Wilson.

When I to talk to enterprise IT leaders, they are saddled with decades of technology.  It is a long tail that the organization supports because it has to in order to maintain service levels.  Most of this technology found its way into the enterprise via the suppliers.  Technology companies innovate and create products based on interaction with customers and then sell them the solution.  The result is the assemblage of architectures, paradigms, etc.  The article starts out with a reference to the mainframe era and the client/server era, but I would tell you that I fully believe in the mainframe and I am not the only one.

The reason I referenced a Fred Wilson blog post from 2006 is to show how easy it had become in a few short years to start a web services company.  This is NOT new news as you can see from the date of Fred’s blog entry.  When I speak with IT leaders, this is how they want their internal IT service to run.  It should run like a web property.  Work groups or organizations inside the enterprise should be able to request from IT storage, compute, access, apps and it should all be setup through portal in a matter of minutes.  It does not take long (half a day at most) to setup a fully functioning web site with commerce capabilities hooked into a number of social media sites.  That is how internal IT services should work.  Customers (i.e. work groups) should be able to request and turn up corporate IT services quickly (point #4 in the NW article).  Unfortunately, those pesky legacy resources get in the way and most organizations are not about to overbuild a new IT structure (point #5 in the NW article).  For simplicity, I am just going to summarize my thoughts on all twelve points.

#1 Cloud as a Third Platform:  I am not in agreement.  I have written in the past that network designs in my work lifetime (SNA era to today) have ebbed between centralized compute and distributed compute.  When WAN bandwidth was expensive centralized compute worked better.  When LANs proliferated it was easier to put content and compute local to users (gened many a Novell server in my day).  The evolution of the cloud is just a repeat of the past which is an analog between centralized and distributed compute; which I expect it to continue.

#2 Infrastructure Vendors Create 4th Leg: Shared cache concept and I think this is big, but this is the part of the network evolution that I wrote is really two networks: a network for humans and a network for machines to maintain a shared cache.  I believe in point #2, but maybe in a different way.  I really think that more VMs on a blade and I/O virtualization are a big way to achieve statistical gain.  I also think this is going to put pressure on the network element to do something different.  Network vendors that can integrate the network element into the I/O of the compute element are going to be very valuable.  Application delivery controllers (ADCs) become a virtual (i.e. software control) capability that is stretched across the compute/IO/network element.  This will allow it to scale and achieve maximize stat gain.  The networking vendor that figures this out with #6 below = big time winners.

#3 Bring Your License: I think this is big issue for a lot vendors and not just software companies.  The whole SSL/certificates challenge of who has them, who keeps them current, how do devices know who has current certificates, who does not have current certs, is all about state and state change.  I do think the network is positioned to solve this problem and that it integrates in some way into the shared cache from #2 above.

#4 IT Organizations Become Internal App Stores: Agree.

#5 Public Clouds More Important that Private Clouds: Disagree.  I think many corporations will still want to retain data and app control in private data centers for compliance and security reasons.  Value will be created in the transition point between private and public clouds.  If I was launching a startup or working at F5 I would look at this transition point.  I have found in my career that being in the middle of the transition point is a higher value creation point then being in the next generation point.

#6 Clouds Source for Big Data: Agree.  I wrote in my CSCO Part II post that “Back end analytics: Virtualization and content evolution from short form to long form means that data processing will dominate the future. The network has to enable that function. By the way, that function is called compute.  Enable that function to occur and you are a winner.”

#7 IT Organizations as Cloud Brokers: I guess so, but does not seem really significant to me.

#8 Cloud Disrupts IT Work Force: Maybe, but I think these types of prognostications rarely come true. The future is just unevenly divided.

#9 1/3 of Vendors Go Out of Business: Maybe, but then again maybe not.  I think new vendors replace old vendors who cannot adapt R&D to cannibalize their base.  I do not think vendors go out of business because of the cloud.

#10 Vertical Specialization: Agree and that is why I think legacy suppliers get replaced with new suppliers.  Just like the last 50 years.

#11 Personal Cloud: Maybe, maybe not.  The only barrier to me wanting to put all my personal content in the cloud is who has access to it and who owns it?  I think these are unresolved issues and if you look at the Government seizing domain sites, confiscating servers, issuing subpoenas to track your browsing history you may think twice about where and how you store your content.  When I read through the NW article I think it is very plausible that many personal users might have more advanced IT services than their employer if they are using cloud services from AMZN or GOOG.  The question is will they keep them in the cloud in the future?

#12 Cloud Fosters Innovation: Um…yea.


* It is all about the network stupid, because it is all about compute. *

** Comments are always welcome in the comments section or in private.  Just hover over the Gravatar image and click for email. **

3 thoughts on “Clouds and the Network

  1. Pingback: Bandwidth Metering II « SIWDT

  2. Pingback: July 2011 Tech Earnings 1.5: Network Transitions « SIWDT

  3. Pingback: Are Cloud Providers the CLECs of the Twenty-Tens? « SIWDT

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